A Sleek ADU in Sonoma Fulfills Multigenerational Living Dream

A sleek, cedar-clad accessory dwelling unit becomes a part-time home for a grandfather and brings three generations together.

Landscape designer Danielle Dávila recently added a new cedar-clad accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, to the Sonoma home she shares with her husband Salvador Dávila and their two young daughters. The ADU is notable for its beauty and functionality. But to Dávilla, it offers more than just a stylish compact living space. It has allowed her Michigan-based father to move in with the family three to four months out of the year to “winter” in Sonoma. 

Dávila says the multigenerational setup has been healing because she didn’t grow up with her father. Her children love the arrangement, too. Her six-year-old “gets up at 6:30 to go wake grandpa up,” she says.  

The Dávilas’ home sits on a 6000-square-foot lot in a neighborhood just a mile from the Sonoma Plaza. The family now comes together for dinners on the patio between the ADU and the main house. 

The ADU, a partially prefabricated structure, was made by Colorado-based tiny home purveyor Studio Shed. It was flat-shipped in a kit, placed on a prebuilt foundation, and finished on the inside by local carpenters — the Dávilas hired Sonoma-based contractor Carlos Castros. (Studio Shed also offers a DIY option.)

From “conception through construction,” the addition of the ADU took roughly seven months, says Davila. Studio Shed provided assistance throughout the process, from securing the permits to finding contractors to do the finishing work.

Now, Dávila’s father is “living very well in 252 square feet of space,” she says, and adds that it’s surprising how spacious the ADU is. Before her father came to visit, the Davilas hosted a sleepover with four children. With a full bed and a five-foot-long couch, there was plenty of room.  

The ADU’s cedar siding was an important design feature to Dávila and her husband, who also is a landscape architect. They loved its natural color, which inspired more landscaping to integrate the two homes. The Davilas added large concrete “steppers,” with planting in between, and a fountain. They capped off the outdoor dining area with a simple string of lights above. Dávila says the new additions have made them spend more time in their backyard, which she describes as a “jewelry box landscape.”

The ADU’s kitchen is a favorite spot for Davila’s father, who loves the cook. It is outfitted with a dishwasher, an in-mount sink and a compact range and the couple recently installed a backsplash to match the quartz countertops.

Click through the above gallery for a look inside the ADU.