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How this SLO couple created the ‘illusion of space’ in a 336-square-foot luxury suite |

How this SLO couple created the ‘illusion of space’ in a 336-square-foot luxury suite

Everything about the Abdul Cader family’s San Luis Obispo home seems expansive: the 4,000-square-foot Tuscan-style house, the three-acre property, the 66-foot lap pool.

Everything, that is, except for the 336-square-foot guest suite tucked above their garage. Local physicians Rushdi and Nisha Abdul Cader created this “luxury micro-space” with the help of architect Eric Zobel and builders Brian and Chenda Lor Rolph. Within its modest footprint is a sleeping area, sitting area, kitchen, bathroom, dining area and laundry.

The space already had features that made it feel larger than its actual size — such as glass French doors, numerous tall windows and approximately nine-foot-high ceilings. The design team chose reflective materials to further enhance the feeling of volume including glass tile, stainless steel appliances and copper-like tiles on the kitchen ceiling.

It may seem counterintuitive to go bold with color and pattern in a small space, but this couple thinks otherwise.

“The home design world has become increasingly preoccupied with grey and monotone color palettes,” Rushdi Abdul Cader said. In the interest of bucking this trend, they selectively added accents in peacock blue — the inspiration behind their name for the space, The Peacock’s Nest.

SECONDARY 1 Abdul Cader home kitchen

Shades of the turquoise hue mingle with earth tones in diamond-set glass tile on the kitchen backsplash. Glass grout amps up the sparkle of the tile. The color repeats on accent pillows and on a bedroom cabinet.

A light blue-green on the walls, a shade called “brook green” by Home Depot, adds spa-like tranquility to the space.

In the bathroom, a Moorish theme reflects the couple’s cultural heritage and creates “the illusion of space and luxury,” Abdul Cader said.

Here, star and cross aqua-colored tiles set above a travertine wainscot create a “floor-to-ceiling work of art reminiscent of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain,” he explained. The tile was painstakingly set by local artisan Aaron Newman to ensure perfectly even spacing.

To stay within budget, the Abdul Caders used high-end materials sparingly, which is easier to do in a small space. They filled in with wallet-friendly finds whenever possible.

JUMP 2 Abdul Cader home peacock sofa

High-impact copper-like ceiling tiles in the kitchen were sourced from Home Depot. Accent furniture and pillows came from Pier One. And, after taking a pass on handmade Turkish cabinet pulls that sold for $150 each, the Abdul Caders found a satisfactory substitute for $5 a piece at Lowe’s.

Every inch matters in a small home, so the couple was careful to maximize space whenever possible.

The couple wanted a four-poster bed, which has “a certain romance,” Rushdi Abdul Cader said. So they found one at Room Board with posts that angle slightly inward to offer more shoulder space when walking past.

For dining, they use a console table with bar stools that takes up only a small slice of kitchen space.

To fit a laundry area in a hall closet, the Abdul Caders purchased a special dryer that has no vent, but rather condenses the air drawn from wet clothes and ejects it through a one-inch drain. The two inches of space saved by that feature allowed for a more comfortably proportioned hallway.

JUMP 3 Abdul Cader home sitting area

Heating the small suite was a challenge, and the solution by Cambria Plumbing was innovative.

An instant water heater not only provides hot water efficiently, but is also tied to a network of underfloor tubing that heats the entire space from the ground up. Combined with Brazilian koa flooring, the floor becomes of a source of both visual and actual warmth.

Living space continues out onto a patio that has a teak bar table and an outdoor cooking area with an infrared grill.

The Peacock’s Nest was completed this spring and the couple and their three children have hosted numerous guests there since.

While some tiny homes are mobile and carted to exotic locations, Abdul Cader noted that this one is stationary, with stunning mountain views, privacy, and “all the conveniences of home.”

JUMP 1 Abdul Cader home Rushdi


Small splurges: High-end materials go much further in a small space, allowing you to splurge on designer looks. Shop for remnants on items such as tile or countertops.

Shine on: Clear and reflective materials make a space feel larger. Glass, metal and mirrors give the illusion of more volume.

Double up: Go for pieces that do double-duty in a small space. For instance, the kitchen sink of the Abdul Cader guest suite has an integrated chopping board with a built-in strainer for added prep space.

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