Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Backyard Cottages

Seattle, like most urban cities, is struggling to increase its residential density without destroying its single-family neighborhoods. As a real estate agent specializing in our distinctive in-city neighborhoods, I am carefully aware of our need to create affordable and sustainable housing while maintaining our unique neighborhoods. For me this means the return of the backyard cottage.

I recently listed a sweet home in the Renton Highlands. Hip clients Dirck and Diana are savvy homeowners pursuing creative endeavors. Combining talents they found innovative ways to eek out more livable space in their modest sized ranch. With plenty of off street parking, they first tackled their garage and created a shop for Diana, converting 240 unused square feet into a highly functioning work horse. 

Complete with heat, ambient and task lighting, new flooring, windows and French door, running water and wrap around porch, this once unused tool shed has become a fabulous backyard cottage.
Hankering for an artist studio for Dirck they turned their attention to the solid, but basic backyard tool shed. Rolling up their sleeves they transformed ho hum in to the perfect blend of function and form.

Just last month Seattle City Council's committee on the Built Environment reviewed a report on backyard cottage development in Seattle over the past 18 months. Their findings conclude that backyard cottages create affordable housing options and help increase land use density in the city. 

A great article in GOVERNING talks in-depth about the current buzz in urban zoning and what it means, both pros and cons, to Seattle and other urban areas around the nation.

There are many issues to think about when discussing zoning changes. Street parking immediately comes to mind. But having an open dialogue about the subject, chatting about what we can do as an individual and as a city is critical as we look forward.

For fun, check out these inspiring backyard cottages. Whether converted from old rickety sheds or newly constructed using pre-fab materials, I must say, they are charming.

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

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