Granny Flats: From the Traditional to the Aspirational

What’s better than a spare bedroom? A separate, tiny house for grandma in the backyard. Those who have space on their property can maximise the square footage to create independent living quarters not just for the elders, but also visiting relatives, grown-up kids, and house guests. It could also be a great investment for people who want to have passive income through rental payments.

These so-called granny flats are simple yet self-contained accommodations. They have everything a person would need, not just to survive, but to live comfortably. The usual setup is a one-storey build with an open plan to maximise accessibility and natural light. The exterior should ideally match that of the main house for continuity. The interiors can be as basic or as opulent as desired.



Detached homes are more attractive to tenants than room extensions. It promotes greater independence and privacy. You can still make it feel like it belongs on the property by using similar styles for the exterior walls. For instance, bricks can be used for the fa├žade if the main house has this signature style.

Residential structures around Australia use weatherboard cladding as a practical solution for the exteriors. This can be found in both contemporary and traditional houses. Weatherboard can also be used for the granny flat.

Even greater autonomy can be given to the tenants by placing an access point for them at the back of the property. If the gate is wide enough, then this could serve as an entry for cars as well. The lawn between the two structures may also be used for family activities like games and parties.

Some structures are originally built for different purposes but can be converted into a granny flat if desired. For example, a music lover may have his own music studio that is separate from the main house to help him focus. This could serve as a guest bedroom in a pinch. Just give it homely interiors for a cozy vibe. There might even have a connecting bridge between the two for ease of access.

While it can be fun to design a granny flat from the ground up, the process can take a lot of time and effort. Not everyone has these in abundance. Using a prefabricated option is a viable solution in this case. Modular units can be assembled pretty quickly with elements being added or subtracted depending on buyer preferences. Advanced features like double glazing windows and solar panels are available.

If money is no object, then a flat can be made as stylish as possible with rich architectural details. There are plenty of inspirations for contemporary design. Some concepts used in single-level homes can be adopted to create a masterpiece.


Granny flats had a reputation of being dark and dreary in the past. That is not true anymore. They have better designs that give them a modern look and a fresh feel. Individuals of any age will love to stay in one of them for an indefinite period. They are very practical and easy to maintain. The open planning optimises the space and makes it more sociable. Only a few pieces of furniture are necessary. It encourages simple living.

People who are thinking of building their own granny flat have lots of examples that they can use for inspiration. Other forms of small dwellings can provide novel ideas as well. It is usually best to keep things minimal while adding a few decorative touches, elevating the overall design.

Visual interest can come in different ways. For example, exposed wood beams give a feeling of warmth and coziness. If you are not used to open plan living due to the lack of privacy, then consider placing moveable dividers at strategic points rather than putting up permanent walls. These are cheaper and more versatile solutions. Some designs from regular homes may be resized to make them viable for use in granny flats. Decorative elements can be borrowed such as window walls and peaked roofs.

An open area doesn’t mean a jumbled mess. There could be clear sections as suggested by furniture placement, colour combinations, and smart styling. Study various examples and combine the features that work well together.

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