Garage Unit
Austin, Texas
Owner: Private Residence
Size: 320 sq. ft.

Designed for a single Mom with two boys in college, this adaptive reuse project turned an existing garage into an income generating rental apartment.

The existing garage was nestled into the edge of a hillside underneath a mid-century house in central Austin, Texas. The owner’s goal in building the apartment was to create a rental unit that could supplement her income in this tough economy. Although only 320 SF, the apartment is full of surprising features making it make it feel much more spacious.

Translucent wall panels on the north and east sides bring an even and diffuse light to the interior. Large windows, along the north side, extend the space of the interior out onto a new 5-foot wide terrace. The new terrace, previously a neglected side yard, acts as a private outdoor space for the apartment resident. This outdoor space is buffered by an interactive cedar and steel mesh screen wall. The screen wall louvers, made from cedar fence scraps, can be turned individually to make infinitely varying patterns. Windows are strategically positioned to control views to the neighboring green belt and away from the driveway.

Inside the unit, an alternating tread stair cabinet leads to the 1/2 bedroom loft, which is hung from the floor above. A relic of the old garage, a poured-in-place concrete wall, was preserved in the bathroom. In an effort to keep costs down, the owner and the architect shopped at Home Depot for utility light fixtures, which were repurposed in innovative ways.

The owner also acted as a general contractor, which helped keep the project affordable. As a result, the design attracted attention from prospective renters before it was finished and allowed the owner to rent the apartment for much more than she had originally planned.
This project won an AIA Austin Design Award.Click here to watch video.