No matter what you call them- backyard cottages, granny flats, or inspired in-laws, we love them!  The state of California has officially named these structures Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs. We believe adding an ADU to your backyard can help families move towards financial and physical independence. Whether for an adult child returning home, an aging parent or as rental income, ADUs are a way to allow your housing to grow with your family’s needs.  

Inspired Independence is the ADU subsidiary of Larson Shores Architecture and Interiors. Through Inspired Independence, we provide economically thoughtful in-law "cottage" designs for clients that fit their unique lifestyle and personal needs. While we are a full-design firm, we also offer pre-designed plans for purchase and permitting services.

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Larson Shores Architecture and Interiors has made a commitment to improving people’s lives through design.

As LEED Accredited Professionals and Certified Age-In-Place Specialists, we strive to create a barrier-free environment to enable our clients––with or without disability––to live as independently and effortlessly as possible with increased accessibility and sustainability.

Who We Are

Larson Shores Architecture and Interiors is a San Francisco Bay Area firm that has been practicing for over 20 years. Principals Joshua Larson and Carrie Shores each have a unique perspective on why designing for independence is of critical importance.

  • Joshua Larson grew up with a mother who was a social worker specializing in gerontology. She made it a priority to understand and respect the process of aging. The concepts of empathy and aging are part of his outlook on life and remain a vital part of his professional values.

  • Carrie Shores was challenged by a serious spinal problem. While her issue was temporary, she was confronted constantly by tasks in her home that she couldn’t do alone. These challenges reminded her of her daily battle so she focused her energies on that, rather than healing.

Having worked with families for almost a decade as architects, we want our creative, inspired solutions to meet or exceed our clients’ aspirations. We have seen how families are changing. Although some of these changes are caused by challenging economic times, our creative solutions resulting from these challenges are very positive and inspired.

We believe that everyone should have access to great design, and that access should not be limited by physical or economic barriers. This conviction has led us to develop the Inspired Independence line. By offering architecture plans already designed, affordable, and instantly available; families don't have to worry about the design process and can simplify the decisions that need to be made.

Why We Care

As architects living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we began to ask ourselves how we would be able to live here, have children and still take care of our parents who live far away. With the high cost of living, we realized that we would need our parent’s assistance if we each wanted to have children. This led us to consider models for multi-generational living. We did not find any solutions that would work for our families, so we decided to create our own. To design for each generation, we had to spend time learning how our bodies change as we age. As we explored the available design solutions for disabilities, we began to understand why no one wanted to face preparing for aging.

We have always believed that design should be accessible to all. It may not seem glamorous to some to solve how someone gets off the toilet or walks out of the shower, but it is imperative. We are putting our energy into design-inspired environments that are accessible, affordable, sustainable and beautiful. We believe that if people can see the beauty of these spaces, they will be proactive and take control of their future.

Today, designing for accessibility is often seen as accommodating the exception. But we believe that a successful design is one that encompasses the challenges of accessibility and uses them as a driver to create a space that is about inclusion. That is the true power of inspired design.

Why It's Important   

Multi-generational living is a solution that allows families to pool their resources, support one another in care giving and enjoy time together. That’s why we repeatedly ask ourselves this question: can we as architects provide a model for multi-generational living that enables families to make choices in advance, to preserve their independence, to protect their resources and to foster the sense of control over their future living arrangements? For the aging parent or family member with a disability, we are creating inspired spaces that make the daily reminders of the aging process less apparent in our physical environment.

Here are more reasons that support the importance of Inspired Independence living designs:

  • There are 78 million Baby Boomers entering retirement – but far too few housing units or nursing homes available. Beyond the numbers, the Baby Boomers don’t want to end up in a nursing home and age the same way their parents did.

  • At the city level, the concept of backyard units being built in established neighborhoods is a model for smart growth! Backyard units don't require additional roads, fire departments, sewer systems, and ease the burden on our cities. They also keep residents connected to existing services, public transportation and shopping districts.

  • For families, the value of having a parent living right in the backyard or under the same roof is almost immeasurable. The number of adult children and spouses who become unplanned caregivers for their aging parents is rising dramatically, whether you’re driving across town or flying across the country.

  • A study by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition found that 41% of San Franciscans spend 30-50% of their income on housing, and 20% spend more than 50%.

    • How will your kids afford to come back to the Bay Area?

  • Our Inspired Independence Homes and Cottages encompass the principles of passive design to provide natural day-lighting and ventilation. The units have thoughtful floor plans to allow you to live big in a small space and minimize the amount of resources needed to build them. The building materials maximize energy efficiency and recycled content, minimize maintenance, and create healthy interior environments for the owner. The pre-designed plans even allow you to find a local builder to construct your cottage, and then source your materials and labor from your community.