Turning An Old Backyard Garage Into A Guest Cottage

Are you thinking about converting you’re your backyard garage into a comfortable guest cottage? If so, you have come to the right spot. You know that having guests at home is a reason to celebrate. However, as days and years go by, you might wish for a little more personal space to enjoy life to the fullest with your near and dear ones.

Many people have the desire but they don’t know what to do. As it turns out that the solution to this problem might just be in your backyard. Or, you may have an old garage or shed in your backyard that’s been of no use for a prolonged time.

An extra space situated in your property and separated from your living space can create a special area you can keep to yourself or a warm welcome to anybody passing through. If you ever thought that you can’t afford to have your personalized guest cottage, you need to rethink.

In this guide, you get an insight into the possibilities of making your own private space right in your backyard. Apart from that, you would learn about how to make the space adorable from both inside and outside. Check out how!

Make the perfect guest house for your friends in the backyard

If you are having an abandoned space in your backyard, most likely a shed, you can use the structure to turn it into a cozy guest cottage. Sounds interesting, isn’t it? Now, you can imagine your backyard space becoming something that you have never imagined before.

You can turn the space into a covered outdoor space for your guests, or a studio apartment. Moreover, you can add a couple of small rooms to that space. That way, your visitors would be provided with a convenient and private place to dwell in. However, a project of this magnitude requires careful planning and implementation of the same.

What is the best way to renovate the garage?

The best way to renovate your garage involves a few important steps. If taken care of these things, you can have a good-looking space in the backyard. Here are the steps discussed in brief.

  • Perform a clean-out – Start with the process of a complete clean-out, which can cost almost nothing. It’s time that you throw away broken items, old toys, expired or unnecessary household chemicals, and other things that haven’t been in use for many years. If there are certain items you don’t want to dispose of, keep them in a separate place.

These items include gardening tools, sports equipment, or other important tools. Next, put them into plastic storage containers or cardboard boxes and label them. Also, you can donate some of them as a charity, or sell online.

  • Make a good floor plan – A floor plan for your shed or garage is crucial. For this, you can take help from an online floor planner, or someone from the local. Make a note of the area dimensions, the location and size of windows, doors, and electrical sockets.

Also, the amount of space needed by the car if you want to include that in your newly formed space. Then you have to decide whether you want certain items in your backyard such as a lawnmower, or some other bulky equipment.

  • Make good use of the overhead space – Also, you need to consider the overhead storage and keep certain items that won’t be used every day. This may include seasonal items such as Christmas decorations, or bikes. You can install an inexpensive pulley system on the ceiling of the shed and hand those things.

When you are using plastic boxes for storing seasonal items, screw wooden planks to the ceiling and make use of plywood flanges to hold the plastic boxes in their place. Keep in your mind that overhead storage doesn’t interfere with the door.

  • Apply epoxy coating – This kind of coating saves your floor from unnecessary oil spills and other heavy strains. A floor coated with epoxy can be easily wiped and it can disguise imperfections. The epoxy coating takes around 5 days to complete. So, consider buying the kit from your local retail store and have the job done by yourself.
  • Choose a design that suits your taste – This is the final step of renovating your garage. There are tons of fabulous ideas about how you can turn your old backyard into an amazing abode for your guests. Make a selection depending on the design and styling you need. Next, implement those ideas and make something different for your guests.

From what size is the conversion worthwhile?

Building a guest cottage from an old garage is the most personalized option you can get. However, it can be time-consuming and a bit expensive. If you are having a backyard with a space of about 300 square feet, a single room of 150 square feet can be built.

And, it would have a single room. However, if you are building a guest cottage given the investment purpose, a small space can’t give you returns. In that case, you need to build a 500 square feet cottage to get the most out of your investment. So, a considerable backyard size of about 600 square feet is suitable for your project.

What should you pay particular attention to?

Here are some things you need to pay close attention to when you are building a guest cottage in your backyard.

  • Municipal laws and regulations – Be careful when you are planning to turn an old backyard garage into a guest cottage. That’s because many towns and cities have strict regulations when it comes to building structures. The zoning laws are to be kept into considerations when you are placing something, how big it can be, and so on.

Therefore, it is wise to visit the official website of your locality and check out the different municipal laws to find out the details of your construction. There are some areas where you aren’t allowed to dwell on a separate unit other than your home. In that case, you won’t be able to convert your garage into a cottage.

Also, you can’t install a toilet in it. So, after you are accustomed to the local laws and regulations, you can decide the features to include on not. moreover, if you are adding electricity or plumbing to the cottage, you may have to apply for certain permits from the concerned authority.

  • Interior designing – There is no question that a guest cottage renovated from an old garage in the backyard would likely have very limited space. Therefore, you need to make the best out of whatever space has to offer. And, it can be done by purchasing items that can be used in many ways.

For example, a futon. Also, you need to have adequate storage space. One great option for this type of construction is shelves. That’s because shelves don’t take up much space and you can store many items on them. You may keep the cottage private by installing window screens. That way, your guests can open the windows and get a natural ventilation.

  • Ask for some help – Converting an old garage into a guest cottage involves lots of complicated work. So, it is necessary to hire help. The architect draws the building plans and gives them to the contractor. And, you need to get the building permits before the work begins. It is better to hire someone who has expertise in plumbing and electrical if you want to include those features in your cottage.
  • Features you can include – After you are well aware of what you can do with the guest cottage and what you cannot, it’s time for you to plan for the features you would like to have. The existing laws in your area and the amount of available space helps you decide what to include in your cottage.

Calculate the square feet you have and start planning. You may need to include lighting in your newly constructed cottage in the backyard. While you may have an option for a single bulb for illumination, you would need some more so that guests can see well. Also, include outlets in your electrical system.

That way, your guests can charge their laptops or phones while visiting your house. If your old garage is big enough to hold a kitchen or a bathroom, you may want to consider a plumbing system. Hire a specialized designer to craft the plumbing system effectively.

You can get creative about how your guests can get the natural light. Remember that the cottage won’t feel comfortable and look good until you add up some windows. For example, you can make large openings and use retractable screens and folding glass doors.


What about the electricity and water connection?

It is recommended to check with your local building department before you move on with the conversion. Depending on the specific work you are planning for, there are several permits. And if you are going to install electricity and water connection, you need to have electrical and plumbing permits.

In some rare cases, you can’t install toilet facilities in the newly constructed cottage. That’s because the building would be treated as a detached living unit. And, many areas don’t permit two living units on the same property. It is wise to check with the local housing department about any kind of restrictions.

While many garages contain wiring for a couple of lights, a guest house may need a few electrical outlets. If the garage doesn’t have any windows, try to install one or two. When two windows are placed in the opposite direction, it provides free movement of air and extra light.

Run any kind of plumbing pipes before starting the insulation. Garages with an open framing make the job much easier. After the plumbing, electrical, and insulation are in place, close up the ceilings and walls with drywall.

Which modern devices do you have to install?

Now that you have to build your dream guest cottage in the backyard, you would like to fill it up with some essential things. That way, the guests would feel comfortable. To begin with, a comfortable couch is a must. After all, you need a cozy place to spend quality time with your near and dear ones.

Also, a small coffee table adds vigor to space. Next, you need beds and one of the best ways to double the fun is by installing twin beds. Not many people like to get out of bed and turn off the lights before sleeping. A bedside lamp is a good solution where your guests can remain cozy in bed.

Then, it’s time to bring in a TV. Keep in your mind that a TV would be appreciated when your guests are alone, or if they are finding it hard to fall fast asleep. If you want more spice in your guest cottage, adding a mini bar could be a great idea.

Last but not the least, don’t forget to install a mirror. A full-length mirror allows your guests to have something to evaluate their outfits. Houseguests would appreciate the ease of access to a great mirror. This kind of mirror makes a small guest cottage feel larger. So, make sure to install one.

Modern devices that make your guests right at home:

One of the great advantages of having modern devices is their ability to feel you right at home even if you are away from home. And, the same thing goes for your guests. With the advent of the latest technologies, it is necessary to install a few of them in your backyard guest cottage. Here are some of them for your consideration.

1. Smart speakers Amazon Echo Studio

Smart speakers are a great way of entertaining your guests. With Amazon’s Echo Studio, they can ask Alexa for nearby coffee shops or restaurants, the weather, and other things like they are at home. The build-in 5 speakers set produce crisp highs, dynamic mid-range, and strong bass.

Your guests can listen to millions of songs in the best quality audio formats. Echo Studio is the only device in the lineup that plays music in Ultra HD and 3D. Each device analyses the room automatically and plays music for optimal sound.

Also, it makes life easier for your guests and they feel at home. they can use their voice to add items to the playlist, create calendar reminders, and set timers. They can even check the traffic, movie showtimes, sports scores, news, and other information.

2. Smart light bulbs by NiteBird

The perks of having a smart light bulb installed on your guest cottage are many. These specialized bulbs automatically switch on or off through smartphones. That way, guests can free their brains whenever they leave the place in haste or fall fast asleep without turning them off manually.

The color temperature of these light bulbs is about 2700K with a dimming capacity between 1% and 100%. With these features, it is possible to create a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere for the room by setting the right brightness.

For your guests, the smart lights tend to work like normal lights. To gain full access and control of the smart lights, guests need to use a dedicated controller or Amazon Echo Studio. There is no question that smart lights make life easier than traditional light bulbs.

3. Media Streamer Roku Premiere

Apart from providing amazing picture quality at a mind-blowing price tag, Roku Premiere is the best way to start streaming in HDR, 4K, and HD video formats. Because setup is easy and fast, you don’t have to encounter issues while streaming.

Now you can provide your guests with something to do after you have spent quality time with them, or they came home after a tiring tour. There are tons of streaming options available but with Roku Premiere, any kind of streaming services won’t go missing.

Enjoy great picture quality along with vivid color and sharp resolution with this amazing streaming device. All you need to do is plug the device into the TV with the HDMI cable included in the box and set the internet. Experience great streaming within minutes.

4. Outdoor security camera Google Nest Cam

While you don’t want to make things uneasy for your guests, but most of them would understand the importance of installing your backyard with an outdoor security camera. Or, at least install cameras facing outdoors.

Security footage plays a vital role in theft or another kind of threat from intruders in your backyard. Investing in a good quality outdoor security camera like Google Nest Cam is worth it if you want the stay to go right as planned for your guests.

Google Nest Cam is an outdoor Wi-Fi device intended for home security that provides you with live video 24/7. Other important features include a wide-angle view of 130 degrees, night vision, 8x zoom, and HD quality display. What’s more, it even works with Alexa.

5. USB Charger RAVPower

There is nothing more appealing in making your guests feel like home is by providing a universal charger by the couch or bed. A USB charger with many ports can charge all USB devices your guests might bring along with them.

The RAVPower USB charger can transform a single outlet into a charging station that can charge up to six devices and save valuable space. This high-quality charging device performs with great convenience and keeps everything charged while your guests are at the cottage.

The compact size of the device makes it easy for you to store in a suitcase or box when there is no need for it, especially when your guests have returned to their home. The extra-long charging cable can reach further distance. And, the LED indicator shows you when the charger is connected to the main power supply.

6. Smart locks August Wi-Fi

With physical keys, there are some risks that you can avoid altogether by using smart locks. As you know, physical keys can be copied at a hardware store with convenience, and it can get lost easily. If you are having a big guest house and renting it out to Airbnb services, smart locks are a must have.

Sometimes it may get worse to get back the physical keys from the guest and enforce checkout times if your Airbnb house is far away, or if you are out of town. But with a smart lock around, you can provide your guests with an access code that starts when they check-in and expires right at the check-out time and date.

Also, you can assign different codes to your guests and other persons like cleaners, and watch for yourself who is leaving or entering your property. August smart Wi-Fi lock allows you to remote access without the fuss. You can even pair the August smart Wi-Fi lock with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, and Google Assistant.

Would you like to heat with electricity or would you prefer a wood stove?

Installing heating devices in your backyard guest cottage might sound appealing if you are living in an area where the temperature is quite down. Now, if you are thinking about saving money while it is cold outside, you might wonder whether to install a wood stove or an electrical heating system.

The decision to choose between the two options depends on the space of your cottage. If there is enough space, it’s time to choose between the two. While an electric heating system may cost you recurring electric bills, but it becomes a necessary option if you are residing in an area with a limited supply of wood.

Therefore, in terms of the poor supply of wood an electric heating system is the only choice you need to take. A wood stove, on the other hand, might be a cheaper solution compared to the heating one if you are living in a place where burning logs are found in abundance.

However, if you are installing a wood stove, you have to consider the upfront costs. Sometimes these costs are a bit higher. Also, you need to consider the cost of wood and how frequently you need to use them. All these factors need to be evaluated before choosing the final one. And, both of them are capable of heating your space effectively.

How many people can stay in the old barn/garage?

Well, the exact number of people that can stay in the old garage depends on one main factor, which is the total surface area. And, most importantly the condition of the old garage plays a big role in determining how many people can stay there. So, it can be two to three persons on average or no one at all.

The old garage has all sorts of hard stains gathered on the floor because of the oil spills for a prolonged time. The stains are even deeper if the dirt and spills aren’t removed from time to time. Hence, if someone has to stay in an old garage or a barn, the place should be cleaned first.

How do you make the old barn/garage really beautiful from the outside?

Here are some ways of making your old garage beautiful from the outside.

  • Replace floors – When you update your old garage’s old dirty floor, it makes the place beautiful from the outside. There are different options available for you to choose from, and it depends on your budget. Painting is a great option to hide oil stains and grease. Also, you can use vinyl tiles to personalize the styling of the floors.
  • Finish walls – Because the garage is an old one, the walls must have lost their color and textures. So, you need to make them appear new by finishing the walls with warm, bright paint. If you find DIY projects comfortable, painting the walls of your old barn or garage won’t be difficult.
  • Replace doors – While conventional garage doors serve a particular purpose, they lack aesthetics charm. When you plan to make the old garage look amazing, you need to replace the doors with a decorative option. Again, there are lots of options available, and it depends on your preference.
  • Make the surrounding areas beautiful – With an old barn or garage, chances of grown bushes all along its structure is pretty common. To make the surroundings better and look appealing, you have to get rid of all the grass and bushes that have accumulated over years. If possible, arrange some greenery over these areas to get a feeling of freshness.

How do you make the old barn / garage really beautiful from the inside?

Now that you have learned how to keep the old garage beautiful from the outside, let’s discuss how to make it beautiful from the inside as well.

  • Get organized – In general, an old barn or garage stores everything, from snow blowers to strollers to paint cans and so on. If you are planning to use your garage for something good, cleaning up space is the first thing to get started with. Therefore, organize the area and remove the clutter.
  • Add a source of heat – On chilly nights, getting an ample amount of heat is the key. The best way to add heat to the garage is by insulting the space. Also, you may install overhead garage heaters. These are portable heaters and sometimes they are specifically made for garages. Always choose the best one to avoid fire hazards.
  • Make use of shelves – Shelves are a cheap solution in comparison to closed cabinets. They are easier to access and allow you to see the items stored on them. You can either install floating shelves or freestanding shelf units. Use closed cabinets for storing paint products, chemicals, and other items that need to be protected from dirt and dust.

Rent and earn money with Airbnb:

As you know, Airbnb is an online marketplace where you as an owner can rent out space to those people who are looking for accommodations. A lot of work might have to be done to manage this kind of operation. But the truth is you don’t even need previous experience to get started.

The process is quite simple. Individuals like you who are having extra space in their property and want to utilize it to subsidize the cost of ownership can make use of Airbnb. Frequent travelers need an affordable place where they can take quick rest and attend to engagement with ease.

The first thing to do is to list your space on Airbnb. You can advertise your space to plenty of people without the need to sign-up. If somehow travelers are interested in your space, you can receive bookings. Airbnb charges every guest way ahead of arrival so that you are being paid when you host.

You don’t even have to handle the money directly. The Company generally releases money within 24 hours after the guests are scheduled to arrive. That way, the Company makes sure the check-in goes smoothly. You can earn money for extra services.

Whatever amount you charge for the rent depends entirely on you. If you need any kind of support, the Company has specialized tools to match your demand and ensure great pricing for your cottage.

Can a backyard guest cottage compare to tiny houses?

Guest cottage in the backyard can’t be compared to tiny houses always. That’s because cottages build in backyards can be of various sizes depending on the available space. Tiny houses are built with the intention to live. And, most of the tiny houses are built on wheels. So, a small cottage renovated from an old garage and a tiny house have certain things in common. Both of them are affordable and build with quality.

Download our large library of tiny house plans! Build your own tiny house with the help of plans made by experts! (Click on the image)


Guest cottages can increase the value of your property when you construct it professionally. And, some homeowners are even renting out their cottages as vacation rental homes. That way, homeowners are provided with a quick turnaround on their investment.

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