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Backyard Cottage Expands a Virginia Family’s Living Space

Photos by Kaan Ozturk

ADU at a Glance
Who lives here: A blended family of six
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Size: 513 square feet (48 square meters); 27 by 19 feet
Designers: Harrison Design (architecture) and Erica Peale Design (interior design)
Contractor: Dasha Cunningham of FineCraft Contractors

The homeowners, with their newly blended family, were looking for a way to add extra space to their home. After they decided refinishing the attic presented too many engineering challenges, they were inspired by some neighbors who recently had added an ADU to their backyard. The neighbors referred their architect, Mark Hughes, to them and Hughes recommended FineCraft Contractors to build it.

Interior designer Erica Peale was already helping the couple blend their styles inside the main house, so the scope of her work expanded to the ADU, where she helped them choose finishes, lighting and furniture. “We have small lots here in Arlington, but the trees around this spot make the ADU feel like a sanctuary in the garden,” Peale says.

While the main house is transitional in style, the couple wanted to do something different in the ADU. “They love Colorado and the Rocky Mountains and wanted mountain modern style out here,” Peale says. “I wanted to do that in a way that would not look out of place here in Virginia.” She and her clients used Houzz ideabooks to share ideas. Then the designer focused on elements such as rustic wood, leather upholstery, contemporary light fixtures and cowhide to achieve the look. Another element that brings in a more rugged feel and a range of colors is the slate floor, which continues from a small patio outside through the interior.

Originally the homeowners wanted the ADU to serve many purposes — entertainment space, guest house, kids’ hangout space and a little home-away-from-home. The bar makes a great serving spot during backyard gatherings, and there’s a TV mounted on the wall behind it. During construction, the couple decided they wanted to add a loft space, and after the pandemic hit, they realized a workspace would also be a great addition out here.

Wall paint: November Rain, Benjamin Moore

Peale found a sofa that pulls out into a king-size bed, which transforms the ADU into a guest house. She knew the walnut side tables and glass lamps from the couple’s existing belongings would work well with the mountain modern scheme. She chose a modern coffee table with a walnut base that matches the side tables.

Peale realized they’d need a hardworking rug in the high-traffic area. “I chose polyester because people will be moving from indoors to out a lot and because kids tend to have muddy feet sometimes,” she says. “Polyester is really durable and relatively inexpensive. I could not believe how luxe it looked, and it pulled all the colors out here together.”

The license plate artwork was the husband’s, and his wife was not at all excited about hanging it in the main house. “The style of this building was more his vision, so I had it framed and hung it out here,” Peale says. She also added a cowhide to the wall to reference Colorado’s ranches.

FineCraft Contractors installed a mini-split system for cooling and heating. The unit is located above the license plate artwork.

The bar includes a small sink and a beverage fridge. The countertop is Charcoal Soapstone quartz by Silestone.

Large sliding doors and a transom overhead compose a wall of glass that lets in the light. It also provides lovely garden views and a visual connection to a round patio with a fire pit. The siting of the ADU creates an easy flow back and forth from the bar area to the patio.
The mix of textures on the ceiling adds interest. V-groove paneling and cedar faux beams add to the rugged mountain modern look.

Ceiling paint: Iron Mountain, Benjamin Moore

During construction the pandemic hit, and the homeowners realized they needed as much work-from-home and homework space as possible. “They originally planned to have a chair and a floor lamp here so they could use it as a little reading area,” Peale says. With the leafy views outside the window and the cozy alcove feeling provided by the loft, Peale knew it was the perfect spot for a workspace.

She found a wooden desk and leather desk chair that worked well with the design scheme. She also selected a pendant light that adds a contemporary touch. The clean look of the desk is versatile. “I chose a console-style desk so that when they have people over they can move the desk chair and use it to serve food,” Peale says.

“The loft was something the couple came up with about halfway through the project,” project coordinator Dasha Cunningham says. A steel ladder offers access. It has flat rungs and comes out at an angle to make it easier to climb. The contemporary railing matches the ladder’s metal and has steel cable wires. And the cedar matches the wood of the ceiling beams.

The loft has a cozy treehouse feel that makes it a great reading spot and a fun fort for the kids. It also serves as extra sleeping space. A nook for books includes an outlet for charging devices.

The ADU has a full bathroom that’s a mix of rugged and elegant. It measures 5 feet, 6 inches by 9 feet, 2 inches.

A clear glass shower enclosure makes the compact bathroom feel more spacious. It also opens up the view of the pretty veining on the shower tiles.

Timing was everything for this newly blended family of six. FineCraft Contractors completed construction on an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, in its Arlington, Virginia, backyard just as the pandemic hit. With four children in the household, some extra getaway space improved life as the family members adjusted to working and schooling from home. The new building they call their casita includes a bar and entertainment lounge, a full bathroom, office space and a loft. The sofa in the lounge converts into a king-size bed, allowing the casita to serve as a guest house as well.

This content was originally published here.

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