Jenna Choate is the proud owner of what might just be “the world’s smallest sink”. As the UK-based designer and co-founder of Interior Fox tries to describe on Zoom how the tiny container, which sits in the kitchen of her guesthouse, would be used, she twists her body and hands on the side – it’s the only way you would manage to wash anything. Choate had no choice but to purchase an XXS sink: the entire guest quarters are just 237 square feet, with the kitchen spanning about 4 feet wide. Yet somehow she managed to slip a dishwasher under the counter. “That was probably overkill, because maybe you can fit four dishes in there, but we thought, Oh, surely our guests can’t wash them by hand,” she laughs.
However, the ADU is not just for family and friends. When Choate and her husband set out to build the structure in their north London backyard in January 2021, their intention was to make it a multifunctional space: a place to work, dine, sleep and exercise. So it’s no surprise that it took 10 months to complete the whole thing – Choate literally had to adapt working wherever she could.
Go with the single-stage flow
As with any new construction in a big city, there were a lot of restrictions. In his original plans, Choate designed a structure that featured a mezzanine. “I think some neighbors thought it would be too high and we could look out their windows,” she notes. “So we had to go back to the drawing board.” She redesigned, downsized and created a new layout reminiscent of an open-plan studio.
Hide highs and lows with paint
Choate’s friends like to tease that his guesthouse looks like something straight out of California. “I’m so drawn to maximum modernity and cleanliness in dark, gray London,” says the designer. She felt inspired by her recent kitchen renovation in the main house, which mixes black accents and wood, so she clad the ADU’s facade in a mix of splurge-worthy western cedar slats and simple larch planks that are usually relegated to fences and gazebos. She painted these boards black for a sleeker look.
She also made sure to balance her budget when it came to choosing cabinets. The kitchen and living room cupboards are all painted MDF, which his carpenter customized for the frame given it’s so small. (The two large closets near the round dining table – slash – desk conceal plumbing and electrical parts, plus extra towels and cleaning supplies.) The unpainted wooden cabinets on either side of the guest bed – it’s really just two mattresses, one on top of the other – is made of oak veneer. “It’s beautiful,” she said.
Live life on the edge
What do you do when your bathroom has very little space for built-in storage? You build a hump that hides the sink plumbing and gives you a ledge to support a toothbrush and some skin care. Choate lined the projection with rows of vertical rectangular tiles that closely resemble fluted cabinetry. Don’t fear for guest privacy: the designer recently added a glass door under the archway to create a bit more separation.
Bring the welcome wagon
Many final details were added with the guests in mind. Not only are there USB charging ports on either side of the bed, but there are also light switches so they can dim or turn off the pendant light without having to get up and walk across the room. Choate also opted for thick curtains to block out the morning sun, an upholstered stool that can be used as extra seating for the dining room, and an Amazon Alexa speaker so they can really feel at home with their own tunes. played in the background.