10 Gorgeous ‘Granny Pods’ To Keep Aging Family Members Close

With an aging baby boomer generation and their kids contemplating alternatives to retirement homes, a new option is popping up—in people’s backyards. “Granny pods,” also known as granny flats, mother-in-law cottages and auxiliary dwelling units (ADU), are small, standalone dwellings built close to a main house.

These tiny homes allow aging parents to stay close to their children and grandchildren for care and companionship. But they also maintain privacy and independence for all family members.

Some granny pods are outfitted specifically for accessibility, making them a great alternative to nursing homes. However, don’t think that means you need to sacrifice on style. The gorgeous designs of these 10 backyard homes are definitely wow-worthy!

1. Portland Mother-In-Law Cottage

An architect designed this rustic tiny home for his mother-in-law in the family’s backyard. The 200-square-foot space was made mostly with reclaimed building materials. While it has a kitchenette and bathroom, mom is still just steps from the main house.

Mother In Law Cottage
Polyphon Architecture and Design

2. Modern Pod

A sleek pod-style building would add a modern touch to a backyard. These glorified garden shed granny pods are also energy-efficient.

Glide Pod

3. Berkeley Backyard Cottage

This family’s guest cottage doubles as a work space.

garden cottage
Photo: Koch Architects

The white wood interior is cozy and classic.

Spruce Street Cottage
Koch Architects, Inc.

4. Historically Inspired Cottage

A small outbuilding complements the large Palo Alto Dutch Colonial Revival style home it sits behind.

Dutch Colonial Cottage
Scavullo Design

5. Portland Treehouse

This ADU near Portland stretches out over a wooded hillside area.

Treehouse ADU
Propel Studio

6. Camano Island Cottage

This beachfront Washington state cottage isn’t a true mother-law unit. But its perfect size, one-level living and waterfront location make it a dream spot for a retiree.

Camano Island cottage

Originally built in the 1940s, this cute cottage underwent an extensive renovation.

Camano Island cottage

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We love the French doors that open directly onto the large deck.


7. Carriage House

The charm is in the details of this ADU over a garage.

Low country carriage house
Rush Dixon Architects

8. Breezeway Connector

Pondering a dual-dwelling situation? You can test it out with a stay at The Projector House on Lake Champlain in Vermont. A second-story breezeway connects the unique home with a smaller unit.

Projector House
Cultivation Design

9. Writer’s Residence

Charm oozes from every inch of this writer’s cottage. The original owner was the author of “Sophie’s Choice.”

writer's cottage
Crisp Architects

10. Charming Cottage

With its covered porch and intimate interior, the Edgemoor Cottage design seems perfect for active grandparents.