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In-Law Suites: Finding Space and Income in Your House

Photo: Muffey Kibbey | "In-Laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats " published by The Taunton Press in 2011

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Murphy Ranch

Type: Bump-out addition
Footprint: 800 square feet (2 floors)
Location: Inverness, California
Created: 1857

This is a vintage example of an in-law, originally built as a bunkhouse for favored ranch hands, which was divided into numerous mini-bedrooms. The dairy farm became a beef farm, requiring less workers, and the arrival of the automobile eliminated the need to live on the ranch, so in the years following WWII the door between the bunk house and the main house was sealed and a kitchen was added to the space, while some of the partitions were removed. It was for years the home of an elderly worker, his wife, and 30 dogs. After the passing of the last occupants, the space now serves as an in-law apartment and it's rented to visitors interested in the working ranch or the parklands.

Bump-out additions save by sharing walls with the existing house, and are a good way to add space without creating an entire new structure, but they aren't the most private of in-law types. Because of this, they're also less desirable as rental units. This one also counts in its favor an east-facing morning porch, majestic landscape, and exposed redwood beams.

Photo: Muffey Kibbey | "In-Laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats " published by The Taunton Press in 2011