IT’S OK TO CALL Irene Paskovskis “Granny.” Her three children do. Her brand-new grandbaby almost certainly will. Even nonrelative Ian Butcher does.
He’s the architect behind her fabulous new home: “Granny Pad.”
Granny Pad is an airy, open, awesome 571-square-foot detached accessory dwelling unit (DADU) behind the Maple Leaf home Irene’s daughter Ilga Parmentier shares with her husband, Kyle Parmentier; their baby, Kaija; and Mila the dog.
This peaceable backyard space originally was occupied by a typical, rickety, 1920s-era single-car garage.
Granny Pad is nothing like that. At all. It is creatively modern. It is beautifully safe. It is strikingly cool. And it is a brilliant solution for a multigenerational family navigating a pricey housing market, the logistics of child care and eldercare, and the perpetual teeter-totter balance of privacy and kindred togetherness.
“In my family, with my sister and brother, we always tried to figure out a way to keep Granny close to us,” says Ilga. “Since my dad passed, we’ve been juggling her around and trading spaces. When I got married five years ago, I saw an opportunity to have her as close to us as possible. Our free-standing garage was used as storage. I was thinking to myself to convert it to some little unit and get her with us in a real way. Our house is not oriented comfortably for individual separate spaces. It’d be really nice to have a separate space so she could be as involved as she wanted, having her participate on a daily basis. The garage seemed ideal.”
So ideal, in fact, that once its creaky door disappeared, that rickety old garage smartly morphed into Granny Pad’s wide-open entry, kitchen and sitting room. (About that entry: The front door is painted the happiest pink ever — Benjamin Moore’s Flamingo’s Dream — against black prestained cedar siding. It is dare-you-not-to-smile delightful.) Beyond the sitting area, a new volume built into the backyard’s existing hill soars 17 feet high, with a popped-out bedroom; a closet/laundry area; a shiny, spacious bathroom; and highly flexible lofted storage space, accessible by the DADU’s only interior stairs.
“To accommodate the decreased mobility associated with aging, the living area needed to be one level,” says Butcher, of Best Practice Architecture, which won AIA Seattle’s Young Voices Honor Award for Granny Pad. “Rather than make several small rooms, [we] opted to create open, central spaces that can be easily adapted to changing mobility issues.”
Even better, it’s a space that adapts to its resident.
In the kitchen, Butcher says, “We used a black paneling piece to create a wall to capture the refrigerator, and a shelf for whatever Granny would like.”
In her very own Granny Pad — designed just for her but also for everyone who loves her — Irene Paskovskis enjoys a rich life of activity, independence and safety among her most meaningful mementos, and people.
“This arrangement, with the floors and everything all on one level, it’s very comfortable, and I’m OK with walking,” she says. “Now that I’m using a wheelchair or a walker, it gives me the feeling of [being] very well. … I really couldn’t imagine this little garage could become such a beautiful space to live. I couldn’t believe it. I have everything handy — my kitchen, and my family.”