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Creating space: evolution of the granny flat

Granny flat renovation

My Life

Creating space: evolution of the granny flat

Go back in time 10 or 20 years and the traditional Australian granny flat was designed and constructed exactly for that – to house an elderly family member.

Today however, dual-living appeals to a variety of people with different situations. Granny flats, or external rooms, are used as outdoor offices, as living quarters for teenagers, and are even being rented out to university students to bring in additional income.

Design elements
The term ‘granny flat’ may conjure up thoughts of basic design and styling. However, this does not have to be the case. Allow your creativity to shine through. This ultra-modern and sleek space is perfect for a young adult.

Working with space
You don’t need to spend a fortune constructing a second residence. As this small space illustrates, a granny flat doesn’t need to be over-the-top. This understated design works well. There are also smart design tools you can incorporate to create a sense of space. Let light in with lots of windows and use large mirrors to open up a room.

The basics Creating the perfect granny flat
Chances are a granny flat will have many uses over the duration of its life, housing different guests and having different purposes. To save on money down the track, design the space so that it can be adapted to individual styles and tastes. Keep the colour scheme neutral. You can add pops of colour with furnishings and décor accents.


Rules and regulations
Like with any substantial extension to the home, constructing a granny flat on your premises will need to meet certain criteria and undergo relevant building inspections. According to the Sunshine Coast Council, a secondary dwelling is defined as: “a dwelling used in conjunction with, and subordinate to, a dwelling house on the same lot. A secondary dwelling may be constructed under a dwelling house, be attached to a dwelling house or be freestanding.” A secondary dwelling such as a granny flat or annexed unit is intended to be small in scale and ancillary to the main residence. The Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014 contains assessment criteria for secondary dwellings. Visit


Candice's passion for journalism led her to the Sunshine Coast 12 years ago where she has worked across multiple media and communication platforms. An avid traveller (she lists Paris, Venice and Vietnam as her faves), this mum of one loves meeting with people from all walks of life and finds inspiration within their stories. Candice joined the team in 2014 and is MWP's editor.

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