Accessory Dwellings

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zenbox design ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out ADU Designer Profile: Zenbox Design

ADU #1 – House Divided ADU

  • Square Footage: 240
  • Year Built: 2015
  • Architect/Designer: zenbox design
  • Builder: zenbox design
  • Type of ADU: carve out
  • Current Use: short-term rental
  • Ballpark Cost: $40,000

The Project: The project was a complete remodel of the entire home, which included extensive demo and wall removal. The existing floor plan was awkward and had much unused space and we worked to create a floor plan that provided ample living space in the house while carving out a small studio unit that could be used as a rental to help offset the costs of the remodel. The result is a sleek, modern yet warm studio that feels huge for its size.

The Challenges: The big challenge was in the design: rearranging the floor plan of the main house while creating a highly functional floor plan for the studio. Because the space already existed and contractors were already on site the ADU construction was fairly simple and very affordable.

The Solutions:

  • The studio feels large for such a tiny space.
  • We used blown-in closed cell insulation to achieve high R-values to ensure high ceilings.
  • The Scandinavian inspired custom cabinetry is functional and also crafts the space itself by being warm and inviting.
  • The custom alternating tread stair is a centerpiece for the space.


ADU #2 – Eco ADU

  • Square Footage: 480
  • Year Built: 2015
  • Architect/Designer: zenbox design
  • Builder: Living Space Construction
  • Type of ADU: Detached new construction
  • Current Use: Guest house/Short-term rental
  • Ballpark Cost: $130,000

The Project: The project was an ADU that could allow a space for family and friends to stay while in town but could also be used for side income. Somewhere in the design process the clients started to reconsider and may well move into their ADU and rent out the house. The primary residence is a small home.

The Challenges: The clients frequently use their back yard, so we worked to create a comfortable space that would take up as little of their beloved back yard as possible. Getting permits from the city proved difficult because the ADU does not match exactly the house out front, we used as many eco friendly building techniques as the client’s budget would allow, and we used nontraditional building techniques in order to fit into the small site.

The Solutions: An eco/living roof, custom stairway and desk combo, efficient building systems, a truly comfortable, beautiful space in a very small footprint.

ADU #3 – Zen Loft ADU (For a more in-depth look at this project, please read Garage Sweet Home.) Images by Shauna Intelisano.

  • Square Footage: 460


  • Year Built: 2013
  • Architect/Designer: zenbox design
  • Builder: zenbox design
  • Type of ADU: Attached Garage Conversion
  • Current Use: Homeowner Residence
  • Ballpark Cost: 75k (+extensive sweat equity)

    The Project: This project was our first ADU and had a very tight budget.  The house had an existing 480 sq ft garage that was, like most in Portland, damp, dark and with a rickety old wooden garage door that barely worked. Our goal was to design and build a custom one-of-a-kind ADU that would welcome us home for decades to come.

    The Challenges: Along with the tight budget, our primary challenge was to transform the garage into a bright and warm space that was inviting and could be used to host social gatherings from intimate dinner parties to large wine tasting events. Luckily, both the foundation and existing structure met residential standards, so we could focus all financial efforts into the renovation and finishes.  The other challenge was to maintain the open feel of the space but have all the functions of a “normal” home.

    The Solutions: Our solution was to keep as much of the existing garage as open space as possible. We built walls around the bathroom for privacy, but literally everything else becomes a shared space, where all activities happen in a single, flexible space. A very large kitchen and entertaining space is the primary focus of the project. The kitchen cabinets are all custom made of steel and reclaimed wood and the concrete countertops poured in place.  A rolling island/bar spins out to seat 6 for dinner and create additional seating as needed.  “Luxury items” in the build include a 16ft accordion door (that literally removes any separation between indoor and outdoor spaces) and a large “wetroom” bathroom with concrete walls/floor/ceiling, dual rainfall shower heads and a large skylight that floods the space with natural light. 

    Jen and Bryan Scott of Zen Box Design are now the proud designers and owners of 460 square feet with a Nanawall folding glass wall, DIY rolling doors, a wood counter that rolls out into a table, concrete counter tops, a four burner gas stove, a two pot dish washer, various reclaimed wood (mostly Fir) cabinets, oriented strand board floors, a gas fireplace and a spacious concrete bathroom with a sky light. Their dog Karma enjoys the outdoor space.

About linamenard

Hi. My name is Lina Menard and I'm a small house dweller, designer, blogger, and builder. I'm currently collecting ADU Case Studies for Through my company Niche Consulting LLC, I help people design and build the home (and life) of their dreams! I also tell my stories about simple living in small spaces - like a travel trailer, a yurt, a backyard cottage, and tiny houses on wheels - at Niche News.


This entry was posted on February 5, 2016 by in ADU Designer, ADU Professional Profiles, ADU Profiles and tagged , , , .
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