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With Some Elbow Grease, Garages Become Stylish Small Spaces

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Photo: Dwell

For some time, people have been trying to eek some rent out of an apartment over the garage, but those spaces were rarely fit for glossy shelter-mag stardom. In the past few years, with small-space living hip again thanks to dedicated sites like Apartment Therapy's Re-Nest, design-minded folks with some extra space have produced some stunning renovations of otherwise forgotten structures. Take this 1908 carriage house/pigeon coop in Oakland, Calif. It must have taken some serious vision to get past the putrid yellow color, unhinged door, and chicken wire window, but architect Christi Azevedo enlisted a friend—and future renter—to convert the former bird's nest in the attic into a stylish single's 360-square-foot crash pad. They did such a snazzy job with the place that San Francisco-based arbiter of taste Dwell stopped by to check out the final product.

? Even more petite than the Oakland overhaul is this 250-square-foot Seattle garage conversion. Using finds from local salvage yards—including a metal ship's ladder and tall silver lockers that used to belong in a United Airlines maintenance building—homeowner Michelle de la Vega outfitted the tiny structure as her own private sanctuary for just $32K, thanks in part to some help from a contractor who's now her husband.

? Seattle is apparently a hot spot for garage renos, as this conversion by the architecture firm Shed can attest. The before-and-after photos reveal one sleek transformation, from a rustic garden shed into a stark space. The large wooden doors now let light in rather than cars, and a modern gray-and-white color scheme blends with classic beadboard on the ceiling and refinished flooring so as not to stray too far from the turn-of-the-century roots.

? Not all such conversions are modestly-sized—or priced. 11 Leroy Street, a turn-of-the-century carriage house in the NYC neighborhood of Greenwich Village, was recently listed at almost $10M and measures some 4,800 square feet. Renovated in the 90s by former PanAm Airlines CEO Peter McHugh and his wife Louise McNamee, the retired head of ad agency Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer, what the home lacks in quaint charm it certainly makes up for with practicality: this former garage still has space for two cars.

? The theme of adaptive reuse doesn't seem to have made it to larger parking structures. In 2006, NYC's Tunnel Garage—which had been serving as a home for cars since 1922—was demolished to make way for a new residential building known as 55 Thompson. To add insult to preservationist injury, the terra cotta Model T imagery that once graced the garage facade is now featured as an ornament on the new building's roof, as our colleagues at Curbed NY described it, "like a stuffed moose head in a hunter's cabin." Still, hard to argue with the new glassy environs.
· Re-Nest [official site]
· Living in a Mini-House [Dwell]
· Converting a Garage Outside Seattle Into a Tiny Home [NYT]
· Projects - Garage Conversion [Shed Architects]
· The West Village Carriage House Turned PanAm Exec's Hangar [NYO]
· Taking Soho's Newest Luxury Rentals Out for a Test Drive [Curbed NY]
· All Tunnel Garage coverage [Curbed NY]