Micro Cottages

Thinking Big By Starting Small

I met up with a developer friend at the Urban Land Institute’s Fall Meeting and Expo in San Francisco this week (more about this event in a later post), and he said he was looking for what he called “Micro Cottages.” It made me think about plans that might start small and grow over time when circumstances and budgets allow — which seems a practical approach to home building in the current economy. So of course I looked through our inventory and created a collection of plans that are 1,000 square feet and under. For example, Plan 466-1


shown here, is 400 square feet


and is basically just one and a half rooms: a studio with a kitchen alcove and an enclosed bathroom. The front covered patio is an outdoor room for use in good weather. I can see adding onto this plan in various ways, such as turning the patio into an entry hall with added bedrooms and bathrooms opening off it.

Or take one of Bill Turnbull’s Sea Ranch Cottages (mentioned in an earlier posting), like Plan 447-1,

447-1e-650 cottage photo

somewhat grander at 650 square feet. Again, the porch is an important expander in good weather. (Photo by Morley Baer, copyright The Morley Baer Photography Trust, Santa Fe; all reproduction rights reserved.)

447-1mf-650second image

A simple way to enlarge this plan would be to add more bedrooms and bathrooms off the living room and turn part of the front porch into a glazed hallway leading to them. Then the main living space could take over the original sleeping area.

Plan 471-1, below, is a 500 square-foot  module.


Designers Sarah Ascolese and Misty Weaver designed it to be a kind of multiplier.


Add up (literally!) — to 1,000 square feet — and you have two stacked modules, like Plan 471-3:


with sleeping area now on the second floor. Or expand to the side as in Plan 471-2


and you have 1,000 square feet in a horizontal configuration. The space between could be glazed to become an entrance hall. For more “Start Small” home ideas see our Micro Cottage Collection. Each could grow up to be a larger home someday.

4 responses to “Micro Cottages

  1. I like the idea of a house growing with the family. Designing with the idea of adding space makes sense for a home anyway. Of your plans, I like the modular concept of the last plan. The layout with the porch in the middle reminds me of a dogtrot, which can be faced into the prevailing wind pattern to create a wonderful summer space.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I’m also a fan of dogtrots — an iconic American plan type. I’d like to add dogtrot plans to our inventory. Stay tuned!


      Dan Gregory

  2. Good morning everybody!

    Coming from South Africa I am not very clear on the exact terminology used, and the word “dogtrot” is quite and alien one to me.

    I like the idea of an enclosed veranda / porch but have never heard of it being called a dogtrot before. The regional evolution of language used to describe concepts that are unique to a certain part of the world holds great interest to me.

    The english spoken in Australia is definitely not the same as spoken in the USA, that much is apparent!

    Thank you for an awesome blog, I’ve found some really great inspiration here.



  3. Observed your web blog via msn the other day and absolutely think its great. Continue the fantastic work.

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