A Room of One’s Own

Do you keep a car in your garage? Me neither. In fact, this, my fourth house, is the only one to even have such an outbuilding, long ago turned into a woodworking shop by a previous owner. About 1/3 of the back yard was covered in asphalt leading up to it. Not a thing of beauty.

I am very lucky in my work to explore many different ways of using space, for many different reasons. In the last few years I have renovated 3 garages into a party room, a teenager hangout space, and an artist’s studio. And in two of these we replaced the garage doors with insulated overhead doors, and used a polished concrete floor— in case anyone should ever put aside the pool table and want to pull a car in, they can. To the street view, they look quite the same as they did before. A row of glass doors on the back or side wall (business on the front, party…) leads out to a terrace, allowing the whole structure to be opened up for large gatherings.

So many of us work at home, even part time these days. After years of doing so, I was well aware of the benefits- and many distractions—of having my office and my home be one and the same. No commute, but no real weekends either. So when I saw the former garage at this house I knew exactly what to do. Taking inspiration from Caroline Zoob’s wonderful book “Virginia Woolf’s Garden” I decided to take the previous renovation a bit further, and have a writing room/library. A gas fireplace and walls of bookshelves, a daybed for spreading out design  books, and a large library table; the perfect retreat. The driveway now stops where the cars do, and the backyard is a full garden. The renovation cost about a third of what a 400 sq.ft. addition to the house would have, but the benefits of separation from the house are the real treat. And the garden tools? (of which I have many) In a tool shed on the back of the building, designed specifically for garden tools.


What space does your house lack? Private office? Playroom? Quilting studio? Yoga, meditation space. Maybe what fills the garage now doesn’t really need a whole building of it’s own… Maybe that space could be put to a more creative use, and alleviate some of the multi purposing in the house.  An idea to consider in the dark days of winter!

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