Studio ADU for Airbnb – Making a small space feel BIG

Disclaimer: This project was a garage conversion. SQFT Studios specializes in new construction of ADUs, Guest Suites, and Home Studios. The reason we took on this garage conversion was that it was built in 2006 and already had permitted habitable space on the 2nd floor. SQFT Studios does not intend to do further garage conversions. In this post, we are showing off our design and build work which translate to all of our projects.

We were approached to help build out an ADU in the hot Hawthorne neighborhood with the express intention of posting this unit on Airbnb. Within this space, the owners wanted to be able to host up to 4 people, provide a full kitchen, as well as a full bath with a bathtub and tiled surround. With such a small space to work in (384sqft), we knew we were the perfect firm to help maximize space, provide luxury, and create a space that hundreds of guests will enjoy.


The initial space was small, dark, and cramped. The first step we took was to add a large dormer in front while simultaneously vaulting the ceiling in the middle of the space. Not only would this let a lot more natural light in, but it would give much needed headroom which makes a small space much more comfortable. This included cutting out an entire swath of roof, reinforcing the flooring, and framing up the dormer and vaulted ceiling with large beams.

A full kitchen was included to ensure future flexibility of the space. It has absolutely everything you would need including a microwave/hood vent, full size fridge, full size range, hot water tap, and even a dishwasher in the island. The island also doubles as a sitting/eating area with the countertop overhang one one side.

For sleeping accommodations, the sleeping area was designed to accommodate a queen sized bed and armoires on each side. A custom headboard with integrated outlets allows for alarm clocks and cell phone charging. The bed also features storage underneath by hinging upwards on spring hinges. Finally, the couch is a convertible couch, allowing up to 4 people to stay in this wonderful ADU.

Finally, the bathroom is roomy enough and has all the functionality needed, including a full-size bathtub. All details were considered. One detail we included was to use a humidistat to control the bath fan. This switch not only allows you to turn on and off the bath fan manually, but will also turn the fan on and off based on the humidity in the bathroom, ensuring that the bathroom will dry from shower steam even with forgetful guests!

As of 3/1/22, this conversion currently has a perfect rating of forty-six 5 star reviews from guests on AirBNB. Guests have praised the availability of a full kitchen, high quality fixtures, accessibility, stylish design, and privacy of the rental compared to staying in a hotel. We are thrilled to have contributed our skills to our client’s project; creating a valuable asset for the owner and a wonderful experience for the guests.