Do you remember the Garage Apartment? The garage to the house I grew up in was converted into an apartment before I was born and during my childhood became one of my favorite places in the whole entire world. It’s where my oldest sister lived while she was in college. Let’s call her Dr. M, because she really should’ve been a Veterinarian. Anyway, it was different from the house with its miniature stove, refrigerator and sink. It felt different, more modern and sleek and smelling of fresh paint (Ooh! I do love the smell of fresh paint!). And it was decorated with contemporary white leather furniture, way cool! Of course, it was also the place for Dr. M’s rescued animals. I remember them like it was yesterday…..the family of newborn opossums whose mother got ran over by a car, the Pomeranian puppy, Strut, who was the one Dr. M kept and loved, and…..well, you get the idea.
Adding on to a garage or converting it to a livable space was apparently the thing to do in older urban housing developments. It not only expanded the living area of a property, but became potential income for the owners as well. The living area, typically 400-500 sf, was perfect for college students who gravitated toward them, or at least they did when I was in college. I wonder, do they still do that?
I rather like the idea of that small living quarter, myself. I often imagine my own garage space transformed into an overlooking-the-river-getaway space with tall windows and a deck reaching toward the water’s edge giving me the feeling of being one with the river. Ahh. Lovely. (Ooh! And I could see the cows through the windows, too!) Funny thing is, I imagine it having an industrial contemporary feel to the interior with a metal staircase, stainless miniature appliances and a murphy bed, quite contrary to the cottage style of the rest of the property. Influences of my childhood where old meets new, I guess.
Looking online at garage apartments, I came across a list of other names they go by internationally. Some sound formal while others are just fun. Take a look. You’ve got the …Grannyhouse, Mother-in-law Suite, Carriage House, English Basement, Auxiliary Unit, Guest House, Carriage House, Coachhouse, Studio Flat, Bedsit (what a funny little word!), L-Shaped, Alcove, Studio Apartment, One Room Mansion, Studio Room, Officette, One Room, and the Garsoniera (try saying it out loud...it's a luxurious word!).
I have to ask, can a mansion really fit into one room? I’m sure it can! But I think my favorite is the Grannyhouse, which is what my childhood home’s garage apartment originated as….a little house for my Grannie. So what’s your favorite name, thoughts or memories of the once popular urban makeover?