Before & After

How to build a small villa for your garden renovation

March 4, 2016
little house

The norm for a garden renovation is to plant colorful blend of plant in beds. Perhaps throw in some water features and a porch and you have an amazing retreat in your backyard. How about a small villa?

That’s what Andy wanted. So, he put the foot on the throttle and decided make a garden renovation and build a small house. The reason? To rent it out for extra cash flow. He set a competition in CoContest then to find the best project that met his needs. The proposals and eventually the projects that would win the garden renovation contest encapsulated his requirements exceptionally well.

The available terrain

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The available landscape for the soon to be garden home is on a slope

Since the house was to be build for a garden renovation, it immediately acquired a small body. Oakland’s regulations dictate that such homes cannot exceed 500 square feet. So, the contestants were to design a little house with that limit in mind. That shouldn’t hinder them though to create a clean design that appeared on sight to be larger its actual size. Another difficulty of the project was the slope of the garden that was heading straight to a ravine.

The rooms and style

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How the client envisioned the modernity that should be widespread in the living room

The client envisioned the small villa to have a living room, dining area, kitchen and bathroom on the ground floor. However, he requested the bathroom to include a shower rather than a bathtub. In addition, a loft should be attached on the ground level for the bedroom, closet and storage areas. As for an office nook, that could go anywhere. The interior decor style which Andy envisioned leaned towards the modern.

Building materials and facade


garden renovation

A wooden contour that embraced windows

One of the prerequisites for the little house was energy efficiency and low cost. Hence, Andy requested from the contestants to include wood as a primary building material and put lots and lots of windows in the design. The wood preference came out of his experience with the material, as he would endeavor in building most of the house. As a final preference, Andy instructed to include a greenhouse in the design. The garden renovation was thus set into motion. Let’s see the three projects that won the competition.

Garden renovation winner: Exterior proposal

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The roof slopes towards the house while wood becomes primary to its construction

The project that won Andy’s heart for his garden renovation had taken into account his wood preference and dressed the house with the natural material. Large windows were framed on the ground level and loft, while a small outdoors living room was included for idle afternoon hours. The little house was elevated on a cement foundation to overcome the slippery slope.

Garden renovation winner: Cozy interior

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A cozy living room with some exquisite features

The modernity of the living room was encouraged by an amazing chalkboard wall. Perfect for drawing little notes and unleashing creativity in a unique way. The wall was also functioning as a division between the kitchen and living room.

White became the prevalent color on furniture and curtains in an attempt to accentuate the space. For lighting, LED spotlights were fixed upon the ceiling. The motto of the proposal was comfort and coziness to match the wooden and small nature of the house.

Runner up: Rigid facade

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Large windows that run from floor level to loft and a little greenhouse attached

The runner up of the garden renovation competition had also used wood as the main building material. However, there were some slight differences from the winning project. The little house acquired rigid lines that denoted a contemporary appeal.

The floor-to-ceiling windows gave more freedom to the small space, allowing natural light to pour in unobstructed.While the panoramic view of the large windows was restricted to the backyard, it didn’t negate the fact they were a fantastic addition for the little house. Or at least, they would have been given the project received a silver metal.

Runner up: The kitchen and loft

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Scandinavian style interior that embraces minimal elements and wood

When it came to the interior, the runner up project embraced functionality and practicality. The decorative style hinged on Scandinavian principles, with wood and simplicity being widespread throughout the house. To utilize the small space, the kitchen took up a corner extending to a breakfast bar. The lights were swiftly hidden behind the cabinets, while a window allowed natural light to enlarge the perception of the limited square feet.

As for the loft of the little house, a king size bed was set next to the office nook. The magnificence of the floor-to-ceiling windows were exemplified through the interior as they added as touch of opulence and they kind of make you forget the mere 500 square feet.

Bronze metal: Less windows more wood

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Impressive greenhouse and CLT panels are an energy efficiency haven for the little house

The bronze metal of Andy’s garden renovation took a different approach towards the contour. Of course the prerequisite of wood was lavishly included in the design. However, the windows didn’t take the protagonist role, rather they were inserted as a beautiful background with horizontal and vertical lines.

The most impressive aspect of the facade though was the fully glassed greenhouse that would become a recharging spot when the sun shined the most.  The energy efficiency concerns of Andy were also answered by using CLT panels that had a large capacity and excellent insulation. They were also quite easy to install for the benefit of the client.

Bronze metal: Smart interior

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The interior embraces an open plan design, with a stair leading to a hatch connecting the two levels

When it came to the interior, the contestant counteracted the small space with an open-plan ground floor. With no divisions between living room and kitchen, light could travel unhindered enlarging the small spaces. In fact an open plan design is, perhaps, the best gift an interior designer can give to a small house.

The decorative style adopted a cozy persona with warm color schemes and light wood shades on the backdrop of a white wall. The walls were also coated with a 10 cm thermal insulation, so that heat transfer was reduced. The most spectacular feature of the proposal though had to be the open hatch that communicates the ground floor with the loft. It added a unique element and acted as a reminiscence of childhood glories.

There you go. What this garden renovation shows is that however difficult a project might seem, such as building a house in your backyard that is sliding towards a ravine, the word impossible is nowhere to be found. So, how are you going to renovate your garden?

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