The Backyard Guest House That Can Assembled in 4 Hours

·3-min read
Photo credit: Commune Design
Photo credit: Commune Design

That old joke rings true: Houseguests are like fish; they should be tossed out after three days when they start to stink. That is, unless, you have the right setup for them. And we're not talking about your average guest-room situation. We're talking backyard yurts. Since everyone involved would be better off with a little more privacy, and prefab guest houses can be costly and time-consuming to install, there's a simple solution—opt for a yurt instead. Plus, it's a much better use of outdoor space than an empty field or dilapidated shed.

We spoke with Maxwell Ryan, founder of Apartment Therapy, about all the benefits of having a backyard yurt, and why he decided to set one up at his Hamptons escape. Read on to learn how to set it up and then how to style it, so you can say "the more than merrier" and really mean it when friends and family invite themselves over.

Photo credit: Bjorn Wallander
Photo credit: Bjorn Wallander

If You're on the Fence, Know This:

There are so many reasons to install a yurt over a prefab house or converting a little shed. For starters, it's easier. As Ryan assures us, they can be assembled in a day (roughly in four hours, if you know what you're doing!); they're light and airy; they can be taken down and then moved elsewhere when needed; and, best of all, there are way fewer legal zoning hoops to jump through, since they're temporary structures.

But keep in mind that you're technically supposed to take them down in the winter, depending on where you live. Speaking of winter, yurts are also weatherproof. "They can also be insulated and hold heat nicely or insulated and stay cool in summer," Ryan tells us.

Photo credit: Bjorn Wallander
Photo credit: Bjorn Wallander

It's Just a Click Away.

You can order a yurt kit online (there are tons of sizing options to choose from) and then recruit a plus-one to help you put it together. If you go with a higher-end company, like Pacific Yurts, pricing starts at around $5,000. You can also opt for one from Amazon if you're looking for a budget-friendlier price point.

You May Want to Call in a Pro to Help.

Photo credit: Lisa Romerein
Photo credit: Lisa Romerein

You don't technically have to get them professionally installed, but it's much easier if you get a carpenter to help you with the base, especially if you're working with a round yurt, Ryan tells us. This is because they require a ton of plywood and, to state the obvious, skill. The platform provides the foundation for the structure and it's usually where electrical wiring is installed. If you think you can handle it, check out Pacific Yurts's guide to building a platform.

And to get the most out of your yurt, Ryan advises paying extra attention to placement. Get them well positioned on a nice platform with a nice view, give them a porch or generous front steps, and make sure they have some shade so they don’t get too hot and a breeze if possible," he suggests.

Don't Forget to Trick It Out.

Pretty much any design scheme can look stylish in a yurt, but they're particularly well-suited for more pared-down, rustic, and bohemian pieces with a more polished twist. For inspiration, check out some of the coolest glamping sites, like Autocamp, Ventana Big Sur, Under Canvas, Mendocino Grove, and El Cosmico. And to make it extra comfortable for guests, add everything you'd typically find in a dreamy guest room, including bedside tables, good lighting, a sitting area—and maybe even a mini-fridge, if you're feeling generous.

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