Small Space Ideas from a Modular Guest House

Small Space Ideas from a Modular Guest House

Adrienne Breaux
Aug 4, 2010

Not everyone has the space or resources to build a guest house in their backyard (or even a backyard to build it in), but we were delighted when we saw all the small space ideas in this fabulous backyard shipping container guest house in San Antonio, Texas. We felt they had some ideas that anyone could incorporate into a small space.

Stacey Hill, a resident of San Antonio, Texas, needed outdoor storage and additional living space, so architect Jim Poteet took the first twelve feet of a shipping container and turned it into an un-airconditioned shed (it has the big locking container doors on the end). That left them with 8' x 28', or as Jim describes it, "roughly the proportion a good-sized sailboat." Four feet was used to create a tiny bathroom and shower, and what was left was a gorgeous 8' x 24' space. Jim credits proportion as a big reason why the space doesn't feel too narrow, but we spotted a number of ways in which they maximized the space of this neat backyard structure.

1) Floor to ceiling glass windows Sure, not every one has the power to make entire walls of their home into windows, but this is such a great example of how tons of natural light helps expand a space. Are you using your windows to their maximum potential?
2) Monochrome materials The use of bamboo plywood on both the floors and the walls really helps unify the entire space; the eye doesn't jump around. The bathroom also features a totally red color palette, which definitely helps expand the tiny room.
3) A simple furniture arrangement They kept the furniture to one wall and kept furniture pieces simple to help keep the floor plan feeling airy.
4) Furniture that works for the space They didn't just choose furniture that looked great in this modern space, they chose pieces like the black Jacobsen chair that swivels and is functional in a tight space, allowing for guest seating while entertaining, or a fun place to read a book when alone.

In the words of Jim Poteet: "I think the use of the bamboo plywood on the walls and floor unifies the space and makes it feel larger. Keeping the furniture small, multifunctional and comfortable helps, too. This minimalist approach works well for a multifunctional space—guest house, kids art project room, gallery space and outdoor entertaining space."

We love it! We are obviously having a huge crush on modular housing this week (see our post from earlier in the week) but we're not the only ones! This great guest house was also recently posted on

(Photos: Used with permission by the fabulous photographer Chris Cooper)

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