The latest (and hopefully last!) home project taken on at our real home was a doozy. The dilapidated “garage” (i.e., shed) on our property was torn down, and we had a new backyard studio, or “casita”, built. I feel so grateful that we were able to expand our living space in this way! The construction went on for, oh, what felt like an eternity, but the work is finally done, and the space fully decorated … just in time for the summer season! (Check out this article for views of the interior!)
Studio Floor Plan
I realize the floor plan looks pretty simple, but trust me, designing it was not. We were working within a very constricted space on our narrow, tree-filled lot. So, of course, there are city easements to consider and trees to protect. I was also obsessive about maximizing exterior views from within, conserving energy through careful window placement, and meticulously planning flexible furniture arrangements for this multipurpose space. I realize someone else may look at the plan and say, “Why didn’t you . . .?” Well, believe me, there’s a reason! It just may not be obvious from looking at this plan in isolation.
Adding a Multipurpose Space
What motivated us to take on this build? Our real home is what I’d describe as a “smallish” urban bungalow. (As in, it’s on the small side by many American–and certainly Texan!–standards for a family of four.) You must remember, here in Central Texas, basements are virtually unheard of, and many homes are also without a proper/functional attic. (Ours is about 5 feet tall at it’s peak and about 1000 degrees in the summer!) So when I say space in a home like this is at a premium, I mean it! Thus, we decided to add more living space with the addition of an “accessory dwelling unit”.
The exterior studio that we’ve added certainly has its work cut out. For us, the space will multi-function as a guest room and an office and a man cave and a storage space (none of which we currently have). And–the job for which I’m most excited–it will be a rec space for the kids!
Space for the Kids
Yes folks, that is the truth behind the build. I wanted to be able to shoo my kids outside until mealtime, just like our mothers did to us, even (especially) in the heat of a Texas summer when it’s 100+ degrees out for a week at a go and summer “vacation” is driving everyone mad! I wanted a place for my ever-growing, loud, rambunctious children to hang out with their friends without destroying the house, our relationship, or my sanity.
So the dream of the studio was conjured and now realized. I hope it will earn it’s keep!
What’s Missing? No Garage
Initially, we had visions of this build doubling as a single-car garage. Although the one we tore down was essentially unusable, at least on paper (i.e, in a real estate listing), we had one. But as with all home projects on real budgets, eventually something had to give. It was not an easy choice. In fact, it took my husband and me nearly five years to come to terms with the fact that, due to the constraints of our urban lot, having a functional garage meant giving up a lot of other great things (like shade trees, which trump garages here in Austin!) Given our central neighborhood and warm climate, the lack of a garage is not that unusual, so the elimination of this feature is not as extreme as it may sound. Still, it was tough, especially for my husband, to give up that vision. However, once we scratched that possibility off the list, this multi-tasking space made a lot more sense, and we were able to move forward with our design plans. We did add the cute little garden shed in the back corner, to house things like bikes and the lawnmower. So far, the compromise seems well worth it!
When One Door Closes . . . Add a Pool?
That’s right. Giving up the desire for this space to be able to at least potentially function as a garage meant we could really make it what we wanted in terms of a living space. And as we watched the studio take shape, the addition of a backyard pool seemed the natural compliment to this emerging outdoor space. Adding a swimming pool was an idea we had also tinkered with for a long time, but it just hadn’t seemed quite right . . . until it did! Of course, the kids are beyond wild with excitement.
And yes, I realize my dream of shooing them outside for the day to get peace is now busted, as the pool addition requires some serious supervision, but I’m alright with that! Sometimes the dream shifts and changes as you go along.
Have You Added Living Space to Your Home?
Have you ever expanded or remodeled your real home to gain extra living space? What purpose(s) did the space serve? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.