Portland ADU Tour – Part 1

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that RF and I were planning to head down to Accessory Dwelling’s 2015 ADU Tour in Portland.  We couldn’t make a whole weekend of it, but we did manage to drive down on Friday afternoon so that we could make the most of the tour day while also hitting up a couple of Portland’s great restaurants.

The weather was on our side but, sadly, there were several accidents along the route.  Almost as soon as we would clear one backup, we’d hit another.  So, four and a half hours later, we pulled into the Jupiter Hotel.

I considered booking an ADU on AirBnB to match the theme of the weekend, but after our weekend at the cabin, we were ready for a little hotel R&R.  Ha.  We quickly learned that, if you’re looking for rest, you shouldn’t pick the Jupiter.  It’s a funky, reno’ed Hipster HoJo on Burnside with slick style…and paper thin walls.  Our room was right across from the Doug Fir Lounge, where live music thumped until 2 am.  Cool place, but not at all what I was looking for after a long drive.  But…they did get a few bonus points for offering great magazines with à propos headlines in the room:

The Jupiter

The neighborhood is also a good place to land.  We walked over to The Farm Cafe for a late-night happy hour in their romantic little back room bar, complete with a couple of much-needed bourbon and grenadines.

The Farm Cafe

The next morning, we dragged ourselves over to Tula to fuel up with strong coffee and stock up on gluten-free cheddar scones, lava rolls, and chocolate chip cookies for the day’s ride.  From there, we headed straight to the ADU Tour check in at Caravan, the Tiny House Hotel.


So cute, and such a great way to give tiny house living a try before jumping in.  Of course, if tiny houses are just too spacious for you, no worries – you can rent Rosie, the teardrop trailer…


Accessory Dwellings did a fantastic job organizing the tour.  I received access to their online summary of all of the ADUs a few days prior, then we were given a tour map with brief summaries of each property when we picked up our wristbands. With a strong mix of ADU styles to choose from, we started by picking properties that seemed to best match what we would like to build.

Our 2-car garage is approximately 20 x 20 with lofted ceilings, so we’ve been considering something in the 400-600 square foot range, depending on how we build up into the loft.  There were several ADUs on the tour in the 500-600 sq ft range, including the nearby Killingsworth ADU, which we chose as our starting point.

Miller ADU

The Killingsworth ADU was designed by Sean Barnett at Polymath Studio and Design Build Portland served as General Contractor.  Both have awesome websites for researching ADU designs.  It’s clear that the ADU movement has taken off much more in Portland than in Seattle.  There were eleven ADUs on the tour and very little, if any, crossover in who managed design and construction.

We were warned that the homes would be busy and that we might have to wait to enter.  We lucked out here.  We walked right in and were instantly smitten.  Design wise, this ADU represents pretty much everything we’ve imagined for our own.  Open design overlooking the garden, vaulted ceilings with lots of light flowing in through skylights, lofted bedroom overlooking the main living area, reclaimed materials throughout.

Miller ADU 2

I’m including a combo of designer photos and my cell phone pics, so that you can perhaps get a sense of true scale…one of the main reasons I was excited to go on this tour.  There are a lot of great ADU design pictures out there, but it’s hard to know how the size actually feels until you try it on.

Miller ADU 7

I loved the kitchen, which has room for a gas stove and full-size fridge.  The amazing flat file cabinet offers loads of storage and makes a wonderful island – it will be outfitted with a bar top for additional eating/entertaining space.  The wood on the walls was taken from an old garage that was demolished to make room for this project, and the wood on the stairs was, according to the owner, purchased from a “wood guy” who salvages all kinds of wood from various demolitions.

Miller ADU 5

Better view of the cabinet, as well as the view out into the garden, here:

Miller ADU 3

Because of the open plan, the upstairs felt quite roomy.  I was still getting used to taking pictures of stranger’s homes, especially with so many other tourers in the way, so I didn’t get a good photo of the bedroom space.  There was basically room for a queen bed, side tables, and small dresser, with a full height closet in the bump out to one side.  The bump out also allowed head room for the stairwell, a feature that I realized was more important to me than I knew before the tour – ladders just aren’t my thing.

Miller ADU 4

Behind the kitchen, by the entryway, was a luxurious bath.  Sorry for the blurry picture – I was trying to snap one in between the people going in and out.  The owner mentioned that one of her regrets was taking so much space for the bathroom, but I don’t think the other spaces suffer much for it.  Of course, I guess it just depends on your lifestyle.  The fact that I like to take long showers more than I like to cook certainly affects my preference for this choice…but I can see where someone else might enjoy having more room in the kitchen.

Miller ADU 8

When we left this ADU, we were afraid that we had gone to the very best one first and that it would all be downhill from there.  As it turned out, each one had very different features, including many we didn’t realize that we would like.  I will share more with you in the coming weeks, but for now, this is my pro/con summary of the Killingsworth ADU:

Pros: open floorplan, spacious feel, skylights – light & bright, good amount of living room space, stairs to second level, functional kitchen, luxurious bath, sense of privacy from main house

Cons: lack of privacy in bedroom, lack of general storage space, difficult to access utilities (hot water heater, panel), price (at $300/sq ft, this was the most expensive)

Catch up on all Portland ADU Tour posts:

Portland ADU Tour 2015
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Lessons Learned

Portland ADU Tour 2016
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


10 thoughts on “Portland ADU Tour – Part 1

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