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Design Studio:
325-C Arlington Avenue

Charlotte, NC 28203
*By Appointment Only

Billing & Deliveries:
3421-M St. Vardell Lane
Charlotte, NC 28217

(704) 759-3920


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Detached Garage Apartment

Detached Garage Apartment

One of the most adventurous aspects of designing a home (or in this case a garage apartment) can be working within defined parameters. Somehow, creativity is activated by limitations. This family came to us with the framed shell of an ADU over their detached garage and asked us to complete the build-out, with pre-determined plumbing roughs and windows in place, as well as a set budget.

Existing rough-in locations for the various mechanical systems made it tricky to design a fully operable kitchen, especially given the low, pitched ceiling, but keeping the appliances simple and minimalist helped. To create additional storage space our design team proposed extending a small wall off the kitchenette toward the living space. This created a recess for a small pantry cabinet and gave them more counter space on the left side of the range. 

While it currently serves as a quiet home office space for writing, they ultimately wanted the additional space to serve as a fully functioning apartment for in-laws if needed. It may even become the cool hangout spot once the kids are teenagers–the flexibility of the space increases the functionality for their future needs.

Spaces Included:

Additions & Exteriors, Bathrooms, Kitchens, Other Spaces


Myers Park, Charlotte

Project Scope:

Custom Redesign


One of the favorite features we added was a small reading nook off the upstairs landing and coat closet. The short window was great for additional light but felt awkward being so close to the floor. Adding a built-in bench (with drawers for storage) and low wall sconces made it feel like a cozy kid-sized playhouse. Meanwhile, a proper coat closet opposite the bench keeps the space functional for adults, too.  

When it came to designing the bathroom and laundry room, the location of the toilet rough right in the middle of the room limited the layout options. Ultimately, our clients settled on a design that allowed for a large shower, and a closet with a full-sized stackable washer and dryer. We chose an offset vanity with drawers on the left side to maximize both storage and counter space for guests.

A unifying color palette of black and white with light wood tones and forest green accents helped to unify every room of this garage apartment. By repeating the same colors, patterns and textures, the design flows from room to room in an intentional way, enhancing the feeling of spaciousness. The light colors and angled ceilings reflect natural light in every direction, while the steady presence of black anchors each space. Wide-plank, light pre-finished oak flooring throughout creates consistency and adds warmth to the space. Throughout the apartment, practical, heavy-duty materials at a reasonable price point kept us within our clients’ budget and will ensure this space looks just as good as new for years to come.

Finishing the second story of a detached garage into an apartment (or ADU) is a great way to increase the functionality and value of your home.
Plenty of landing space at the top of the stairs makes it easier to maneuver when coming in with luggage or groceries.
Black and white wallpaper enhances the living space by filling one of the largest walls in the space with texture and compliments the other Scandinavian inspired material selections.
Light oak flooring and warm hickory base cabinets bring warmth to the black and white color palette throughout. Low, clipped ceilings made kitchen storage a challenge, but a simple floating shelf is a practical solution and maintains the minimalist aesthetic.
An offset sink provides practical drawer storage and counter space. For balance, the mirror and wall sconce were centered on the vanity instead of the sink. Repeating the black, white, and forest green color scheme creates a cohesive aesthetic.
Durable porcelain tile in a fun pattern welcomes guests while providing and easy to maintain surface coming in from outdoors.
A small area off the upstairs entry with low, clipped ceilings became the perfect spot for a reading nook complete with a bench seat, wall sconces, and a full-sized coat closet directly opposite. The dark, flat, forest green paint color emphasizes the coziness factor while allowing views out of the small window to pop against the contrast.

Extending the sink wall into the living room created space for a hidden pantry cabinet and a place for the range and hood to tuck in below the dropped ceiling. The kitchen floorplan provides enough clearance for a future full-sized dining table and chairs.

The bathroom floor tile extends up the back wall of the shower to add interest to the space. Quartz countertops and matte black finishes can withstand heavy use, ensuring this bathroom will look new for ages.

Before & After 

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