Maximize Small Space in Palo Alto's Secondary 'Granny' Units with Custom Storage


If you want to live in Silicon Valley, it’s hard to find a better spot than Palo Alto. If you can find a spot, that is. I’ve seen first-hand the demand for housing in the South Bay Area, and the area’s astronomical real estate prices leave a lot of folks short on options.

The Palo Alto Mayor’s office and City Council have wrestled with the issue for years, and since 2015 one part of their proposed solution has been to encourage more “secondary” housing units—lovingly referred to as “granny” units by some Palo Alto residents. Loosening the restrictions on these structures hasn’t been without its complications, but there is certainly more incentive now to add onto your home and either rent out the extra space or move a relative in.

Once you get the go-ahead to build, the real challenge is creating a livable home in such a small space (local ordinance currently caps a granny unit at 450 square feet). This requires a little creativity in terms of layout and furniture options, but there are plenty of space-saving amenities you can use to create a comfortable, functional granny unit.

Install a Murphy Bed for Space-Saving Comfort

When the bed is put away, you wouldn’t even know it was there.
Image from Valet Custom Cabinets & Closets.

Having a comfortable place to sleep is essential—but even a no-frills double bed and night stand can eat up a good chunk of square footage. Get around this problem by installing a Murphy Bed.

I really can’t recommend these highly enough. We can create both horizontal and vertical tilt-out units that are easy to raise and lower and use full-size, comfortable mattresses. And we can add all kinds of neat custom features, whether a slide-out nightstand for your alarm clock, custom cabinets for pillows and extra bedding, or adjustable shelving to hold books and knickknacks. Some folks even opt for designs that include a fold-down table or desk. The best part is that when these features are tucked away, all you see is the beautiful woodgrain finish of an attractive cabinet.

A wall bed unit with added cabinets lets you store pillows out of the way during the day.
Image from Valet Custom Cabinets & Closets.

Custom Storage Is More Efficient

When it comes to clothing, whether you opt for a closet or an external wardrobe, you have a number of additional space-saving storage options. To maximize your hanging area, we can install a pull-down wardrobe lift, allowing you to utilize high wall space that would otherwise go to waste. We can also add slide-out racks for belts, ties, and scarves to keep accessories organized and out of the way.

A wardrobe lift is a great way to save closet space.
Image from Valet Custom Cabinets & Closets.

Since you’re unlikely to have the space for a dedicated laundry room, we can even add a slide-out or tilt-out hamper and a fold-out ironing board to your closet. Since these are hidden away when not in use, you get all their functionality without losing any living space.

Slide-out hampers make for a hassle-free laundry day.
Image from Valet Custom Cabinets & Closets.

A Smartly Designed Media Cabinet is a Huge Space-Saver

Add a media center that holds everything media (and non-media) related.
Image from Valet Custom Cabinets & Closets.

Need to save space in your main living area? We can create an alcove or niche media cabinet that fits into a small area while still giving you room for a flat screen TV (plus storage for your receiver, speakers, and other media). If you occasionally work from home, we can also add custom cabinetry to hold your CPU, allowing you to use your TV as a large computer monitor.

To add a decorative element to your custom entertainment center, consider including open shelving for photos or artwork. Recessed accent lighting will keep these items elegantly displayed without the need for side tables and lamps.

Kitchenettes Don’t Have to Lack Function or Storage

Granny units are often built with a kitchenette. “Kitchenette” tends to elicit images of tiny, cramped cooking areas, but with the right design they can be fully functional and quite comfortable.

First, I’d suggest a design that allows one of your counters to do double-duty as an eating area, complete with bar stools, so that you can forgo a kitchen table. You’ll also want to keep you floor space as open as possible, which we can help with by installing slide-out bins for garbage, food waste, and recyclables.

A well-designed kitchen doesn’t have to be big to be functional.
Image from Valet Custom Cabinets & Closets.

We can also design pull-out shelves, racks and lazy susans for your kitchen cabinetry, allowing you to store everything from baking pans and dinner napkins to spices and canned goods. Proper storage frees up your counter space for cooking and eating, and having custom, dedicated spots for everything ensures that you never have to root around in dark corners as you search for missing pots and pans.

Slide-out lazy susans are a versatile storage option.
Image from Valet Custom Cabinets & Closets.

Living Can be Large Even in Small Spaces

Smart, space-saving design allows you to fit much more than you thought into one room (hint: there’s a bed in this picture).
Image from Valet Custom Cabinets & Closets.

Many people assume storage space, comfort, and functionality have to be sacrificed in the face of limited square footage, but with a talented design team, a small living area can offer the same conveniences as a home twice its size.

If you’re thinking of adding a secondary living unit to your Palo Alto home (or just maximizing storage in your “normal-sized” house), get in touch with us to set up a free consultation. Our expert designers know how to get the most out of any space.

Valet Custom Cabinets & Closets designs, manufactures and installs custom organizational solutions that enhance the functionality of your living space while complementing the décor of your home.

Our talented design team creates unique solutions tailored to your specific needs, style, and budget. We are independently owned and a direct manufacturer.

Our areas of specialty include Home Offices, Wall Beds, Media Centers, Closets, Pantries, Garage Cabinetry, and much more.

Exceptionally Designed & Styled * Expertly Crafted with 5-Star Execution



About Larry Fox, President

Larry is a graduate of the University of Southern California School Of Business. After receiving his degree he returned to the Bay Area and spent 18 years working in his family’s 100+ year old metals recycling business. Upon the sale of that business in 2000, Larry and his wife Audrey purchased Valet. Larry has become a leader in the industry and is a past president of the National Closet Group. Larry loves turning people’s dreams into reality, and remains as enthusiastic about the business today as he was when he first acquired it. View Larry's Houzz Page.

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