A Vancouver Garage Turns Into a Dreamy Eclectic Studio

Aug 11, 2017

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4 minute read

By Becky Harris, Houzz

It’s hard to believe that not long ago only the spiders used this detached one-car garage in Vancouver. Even though it was unfinished and full of cobwebs, the homeowner and her interior designer, Andrea McLean, saw the potential it had as a studio space. It was located just across the garden from the house, and they knew it would be free from household distractions when the owner wanted some quiet writing time. Having a good sense of her client’s tastes and knowing her Arts and Crafts house well, McLean created a fresh, functional space, complete with big garden views.

Photos by Luis Valdizon

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Room at a Glance
What happens here: 
Lots of writing, reading and some lesson planning by a teacher of young children
Location: Vancouver
Size: 100 square feet (9 square meters)
Designer: Andrea McLean of Andrea McLean Design Office

The garage was about the same age as the Arts and Crafts house and had similar characteristics. The contractor gave the garage a big upgrade, replacing rotten and water-damaged framing, adding insulation, creating the proper exterior with vapor barriers and installing drywall. The new tile floors have a radiant-heat system.

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“Her home’s architecture is traditional, but she likes an eclectic mix,” McLean says. “We wanted to embrace old details but also make it fresh.” The most traditional details in the studio are the mullions on the windows. Back when her writer’s studio was just a dream, the homeowner had collected some key pieces that wound up making it very special.

“Originally she wanted accordion doors that would open completely to the garden, but it just wasn’t in the budget,” McLean says. However, her client had something even better stashed away — back when the neighbors across the street had replaced all of their windows, she had salvaged their old windows from the Dumpster and saved them. The contractor was able to configure the new door and those old windows into a glass wall that offers great views of the garden. All the white in the studio provides a backdrop that makes the garden seem even more vivid.

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While the exterior architecture and windows brought the traditional, the white keeps things light, bright and contemporary. The Eames chairs add some midcentury modern style, and the floor is a geometric stunner that is both on trend and timeless.

McLean had always admired the beautiful patterned encaustic tile floors she’d seen in old buildings in Spain and Cuba. Having worked with her client for a few years on her home, she knew her style well, knew that she was a fan of Picasso and Gaudí, and knew that she loved to travel. This gave her the idea to present the design inspiration as a little writer’s studio in Barcelona. Just as she expected, her client loved it.

Tiles: Frame collection, Refin

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While the floors were a splurge, McLean saved by finding the sawhorse desk and the shelves and cabinets at Ikea. The way the shelves line up against the wall as one big unit gives them a custom built-in look.

The homeowner has loads of literature and psychology books out here — which, McLean assures, usually have their spines proudly displayed. They were turned around by the photo stylist to put the focus on the room’s design instead of the titles.

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A vintage steamer trunk the homeowner already owned holds costumes and toys for the children she teaches.

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A classic Eames chair is a comfortable spot for reading. It also adds to the feeling that the little studio evolved over time, as if another writer might have used it in the 1950s.

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While the homeowner has always enjoyed her garden, she had never made much of this space just off the new studio. Inspired by the studio renovation, she found some recycled bricks on Craigslist and mixed them in with concrete pavers to create an eclectic patio. The lounge chairs are another great spot for reading, having a snack and enjoying the view. She hung some more of her salvaged windows around the garden, further tying her little writer’s studio to the rest of the property.

Chairs: West Elm

Related Links:
Browse More Converted Home Office Projects
The Basics of Midcentury Modern Style
Outdoor Lounge Chairs for Reading and Relaxing

How would you make over your garage? Let us know in the comments below!