Why Home Design Magazine ‘Dwell’ Got into Making Houses

Linda D. Garrow

Would you buy a house from a magazine publisher? How about if that magazine were Dwell, a publication that’s been an arbiter of good design and living well since it debuted at the start of the millennium? If your answer is “yes,” then today is your lucky day, as Dwell is now officially in the home-building business.

On September 20, Dwell unveiled the Dwell House, a prefab ADU (accessory dwelling unit, better known as an in-law suite) that’s meant to live in the backyard of an existing home. The 540-square-foot, one-bedroom home is fully constructed off-site by Dwell’s partner on the project, west coast ADU specialist Abodu, and then delivered and installed in your backyard after Abodu pulls all necessary permits for you.

dwell house


While Abodu already offers a number of similar prefab ADUs, including a one-bedroom option, the Dwell House stands apart thanks to its refinement (the home itself was designed by Danish studio Norm Architects). Naturally, the publisher worked with brands it loves to outfit the home with designer fixtures and custom touches, like a curbless shower with wraparound tile in the bathroom, concealed appliances for the full kitchen and a 12-foot folding glass wall from NanaWall.

If you’re looking for a traditional in-law suite, a guest house or even a standalone home office, then the appeal of the Dwell House is clear. But the question remains: Why is a publisher like Dwell even getting into building homes in the first place? According to the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief William Hanley, it all has to do with the media company putting its money where its mouth is, so to speak. “We introduced the Dwell House because we not only want to cover design that responds to contemporary life — we want to make it a reality out there in the world,” Hanley said in a statement.

dwell house


“We want people to be able to add more well-designed space to their homes in the easiest possible way,” Hanley tells Gear Patrol of Dwell’s ultimate goal of producing the Dwell House. “The design part is key, and it’s where Dwell‘s expertise comes in. We’ve seen hundreds of ADU plans over the years, and we know what works and what doesn’t. And with Norm Architects we’ve had a great partner in turning that expertise into a home that’s thought through down to every detail — and it also looks great in any backyard.”

Dwell had previously flirted with the idea of producing homes back in 2004 when it produced the one-off winner of the Dwell Home Design Invitational, which chose the best prefab home design that could be made for $200,000, but this marks the first time the publisher has offered up homes for sale that the public can purchase (if you’ve got $389,000 that is, as that’s the starting price of the Dwell House). And while Hanley tells us that no future models are currently planned as follow-ups to the Dwell House, he hasn’t ruled out Dwell becoming more involved in producing other home and design items, like its 2016 furniture collaboration with Target.

dwell house


“Making good design available to as many people as possible is central to our mission,” Hanley tells Gear Patrol. “In our editorial coverage, we highlight great ideas that meet present needs and anticipate the future of where and how we live. It’s critical that we not only cover that but that we also make it a reality.”

It certainly sounds like Dwell has some lofty goals in mind in terms of becoming sort of a one-stop-shop for all things home- and design-related. And while it seems like they started with the biggest possible project and are working backward from there, the thought of what they come up with next remains tantalizing. For now, if you’re interested in obtaining a Dwell House of your own, you can check Dwell’s website to see if your backyard can accommodate one of the luxe ADUs.



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