A 237-Square-Foot Guesthouse With the “World’s Smallest Sink” But All Kinds of Calm
Behind fluted cabinets, the homeowner fit in even more function.
Published Sep 8, 2022 1:15 AM
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Jenna Choate is the proud owner of what just might be the “world’s smallest sink.” As the U.K.-based designer and cofounder of the firm Interior Fox attempts to describe over Zoom how one would use the teeny-tiny vessel, which is located in the kitchen of her guesthouse, she contorts her body and hands sideways—that’s the only way you’d be successful at washing anything. Choate had no choice but to buy an XXS sink: The entire guest quarters is only 237 square feet, with the kitchen spanning 4-or-so feet wide. Still, somehow, she was able to squeeze in a dishwasher underneath the countertop. “It was probably overkill, because you can maybe fit four dishes in there, but we thought: Oh, surely our guests can’t wash them by hand,” she says with a laugh.
However, the ADU isn’t just for family and friends. When Choate and her husband set out to build the structure in their North London backyard in January 2021, their intent was for it to be a multifunctional space: a place to work, to dine, to sleep, and to exercise. It’s no surprise then that it took 10 months to complete the whole thing—Choate had to literally fit in function wherever she could.
Go With the Single-Story Flow
As with any new construction in a big city, there were plenty of restrictions. In her original plans, Choate designed a structure that featured a mezzanine level. “I think some of the neighbors thought it would be too high and we could look into their windows,” she notes. “So we had to go back to the drawing board.” She redesigned, reduced the size, and created a new layout reminiscent of an open-plan studio.
Hide High-Low Moments With Paint
Choate’s friends like to tease that her guesthouse looks like something straight out of California. “I’m so drawn to the max of doing modern and clean in gloomy, gray London,” says the designer. She was feeling inspired by her recent kitchen renovation in the main house, which mixes black accents and wood, so she clad the ADU’s facade in a mix of splurge-worthy western cedar slats and simple larch planks that are typically relegated to fencing and gazebos. She painted those boards black for a sleeker look.
She was also careful about balancing out her budget when it came to picking out cabinetry. The cupboards in the kitchen and living room are all painted MDF, which her carpenter customized for the setting given it’s so tiny. (The two large cupboards near the round dining table–slash–desk disguise the plumbing and electrical parts, as well as hold extra towels and cleaning supplies.) The unpainted wood cabinets on either side of the guest bed—it’s really just two mattresses, one on top of the other—are oak veneer. “It’s beautiful stuff,” she says.
Live Life on the Ledge
What do you do when your bathroom boasts very little space for built-in storage? You build a bump-out that hides the sink’s plumbing and leaves you with a ledge to prop a toothbrush and skin care. Choate clad the projection in rows of vertical rectangular tiles that look a whole lot like the fluted cabinetry. Fear not for guests’ privacy: The designer has recently added a glass door under the arch to create a little more sense of separation.
Bring on the Welcome Wagon
Many of the final details were added with guests in mind. Not only are there USB charging ports on either side of the bed, there are light switches so that they can either dim or turn off the overhead fixture without having to get up and walk across the room. Choate also opted for thick curtains to block out the morning sun, an upholstered stool that can double as bonus dining seating, and an Amazon Alexa speaker so they can feel truly at home with their own tunes.