The dilemma of “too much stuff, not enough space to put it” is one we can all relate to. While we’ve tried to calm the chaos with solutions like room dividers, pegboards, and hacked IKEA cabinets, it turns out this whole time we’ve been looking in when we should have been turning to the outdoors. According to a survey by HomeAdvisor, nearly 80 percent of people are willing to opt for an additional ADU (accessory dwelling unit) to help them make the most of their properties. And Google searches back it up: Inquiries into tiny homes surged at a 680 percent increase over the past 10 years. 

Unlike a typical pool or guesthouse, an ADU is a stand-alone structure that features a kitchen and bathroom, making it a lot more livable than a converted shed or renovated garage. If you’re skeptical about HOA approval or cul-de-sac gossip, HomeAdvisor data shows that 85 percent of people would actually allow them in their neighborhoods. The most popular reason for building one is to provide a separate space for adult children or senior family members, but you could simply use it as a dedicated homework-slash-play area for little ones or a totally private home office. Ahead are four ideas for how to ensure yours won’t disrupt your yard’s aesthetics (or your neighbors).

Set Office Hours

When Salad for President’s Julia Sherman needed a new office space after turning the previous one in her house into a nursery, she opted for an A-frame building kit. Now she has a dedicated workspace just steps away from her home. 

Rent It Out

Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, architecture firm T+E+A+M started building single bedroom units on the land surrounding its home projects so that the new owners could rent them out for extra income. 

Give a Five-Star Stay

Offer guests more than your pull-out couch. Spatial Homes, an ADU company based in San Francisco, specializes in minimalist-looking structures (think: clean lines, cathedral ceilings, and large sliding glass doors). Upgrade your property’s bedroom count by going for its 500-square-foot option

Go Big—And Go Home

Instead of building any ordinary rectangular structure, Berlin-based architecture firm Atelier Vens Vanbelle chose to construct a rounded, tamboured ADU that mirrors the backyard’s equally curvy borders. 

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