Friends and Family Will Beg to Stay in These Stylish In-Law Units

The mother-in-law apartment was once a humble space, quietly stacked above the garage. But as the Silver Tsunami gets closer to shore -- 72 million Americans will be over 65 by 2030 -- and the race for space heats up ( Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco all have plans to add thousands of housing units in the next decade), we're rethinking the old in-law pad, and the notion of multigenerational housing in general.

These days we call these additional buildings ADUs, or accessory dwelling units. They can be carved out of extra space in the house, added to the backyard, or built into new housing stock. And where once municipalities often discouraged them, fearing an influx of undesirable residents, laws are being amended to encourage them (check the for info on your local codes). They're so popular that Portland, OR, urban planning envy of the country, holds an annual ADU Tour.

ADUs can be eye candy, as you'll see below:

Wine Lovers' ADU

Portland-based architects Hammer & Hand have crafted a number of ADUs, both freestanding and attached to existing homes. Their Super Efficient model is made to be affordable and sustainable, and uses passive building principles (requiring almost no utility bills). The Wine Lovers' ADU is an eco-friendly addition with a sleeping loft crafted of wine barrel staves.

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Garden Pavilion

Gary Shoemaker Architects, based in New York, meshed two 50-by-55-foot parcels of land in the Seattle suburbs. The Garden Pavilion, as they call it, is a "simple copper-clad structure positioned on a 3-foot high fieldstone base."

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The zenbox ADU

A multidisciplinary design firm in Portland, zenbox design transformed a two-car garage into this 480-square-foot ADU in Portland. The intent was "to eliminate the barrier between inside and outside and to make the most usable space out of a small footprint," according to the company's website. It has an open plan, a loft bed, a kitchen island/bar that swings out to become a table for six, and accordion doors.

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Bearden Residence

Rush Dixon Architects, based in Mount Pleasant, SC, constructed the Bearden Residence with multigenerational living in mind. "Welcoming" was the look they were going for, and the ADU, hovering over the garage and matching the Craftsman-inspired style of the main home, achieves it.

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Accessory Unit

Based in Atascadero, CA, gfh Architecture calls this simply the Accessory Unit. It measures 1 story and 1,000 square feet, but it has a two-car garage, a loft, a kitchen, and "plenty of room for storing paddle boards, surf boards and bicycles to service the client's active lifestyle." The style is modern, the lighting is eco-friendly, and the orientation encourages maximum sunlight.

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Next Gen

Lennar homebuilders now offer Next Gen structures: a "home within a home," or "2 homes for 1 payment." The traditional-looking homes at first appear to be single-family, but there are self-contained units within them. The main houses tend to run in the 2,500-square-foot range, while the ADUs range from 463 to 563 square feet.

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Marie Colvin

Four Lights Tiny House Co.'s creations are all small, but the Marie Colvin offers a little more space: a whopping 288 square feet. It has a "bump-out dining nook, a downstairs bedroom, two large lofts, a kitchen with ample storage, a large washroom, and a great room with an open cathedral ceiling." It also has an additional 70 square feet of storage, and there's an attached shed. That's right, this is not the shed.

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Balance S-M-L

Seattle's Method Homes' goal was to create a modestly sized prefab home -- smartly designed, as they say -- that make it "quick and affordable to create a personal retreat without sacrificing style." The series is called Balance S-M-L and arrives 95% complete to your site, within three months of purchasing. Prices start at $95,000 for a 565-square-foot studio.