This 500-Square-Foot Detached Garage Became a Dreamy Guest Loft

Tucked above this Houston garage is a cozy guest loft, where visitors have everything they need in one petite space.

Most people would assume a 500-square-foot attic space above a detached garage is destined to become a hoarding zone for rusty bikes and deflated soccer balls. But interior designer Marie Flanigan saw that little area—and its soothing natural light, secluded spot down her driveway, and perch among the trees—as brimming with potential for a guest suite.

unfinished area above garage before shot

Her first step was to take down all the nonstructural beams in the 8-foot ceiling and vault it to the roofline, expanding the space to 13 feet at its peak and exposing hidden upper windows to make the room feel twice as big. A low-framed ceiling cut off transom windows.

bright living space guest house above garage
Julie Soefer

Marie turned a low structural beam into a decorative asset. She clad it with bleached white oak planks and added beams branching off either end to make it look like an intentional part of the design. Pale hues and bleached wood keep the backdrop quiet, and a fully outfitted kitchen and hidden washer and dryer help secure five-star reviews from guests.

Apart from a walled-in bathroom at the back corner, the loft has an open floor plan that connects all zones. Built-ins and color define each area. A breakfast banquette anchors the dining spot, and blue cabinets mark the kitchen. A wall of white built-ins in the bedroom contrasts the kitchen cabinets and delineates the two spaces.

An antiqued mirror set into the focal point range hood "adds a little sparkle and a sense of age that contrasts the contemporary cement backsplash," Marie says. Drywall covered with a coat of plaster kept the cost of the impressive architectural element low. Weathered-wood open shelves break up the white walls and give the kitchen a lived-in feel.

Powder blue lower cabinets define the L-shape kitchen and camouflage the dishwasher and an undercounter refrigerator. The microwave sits behind a cabinet door on the range wall.

well-lit dining nook with built-in bench seating

Marie opted for a casual eating spot, mixing traditional dining chairs with an armchair to help the space feel like a living area. Deep drawers in the banquette bench hold linens, paper towels, and other utility items.

Marie Flanigan

Everything was about maximizing function and adding architectural detailing to help create zones.

— Marie Flanigan

"I wanted the bedroom to be this cozy, tucked-away, soft space," Marie says. A textural rug stretches almost wall to wall to set off the zone. Linen drapes provide privacy at night but let in all the natural morning light.

A small chest of drawers provides guests bedside table space and clothing storage. The narrow bedside table allows nearby cabinet doors to swing all the way open.

Marie Flanigan

To me, a room is only as good as its natural light. I wanted this space to be filled with it.

— Marie Flanigan
guest house laundry linen and pantry storage
Julie Soefer

A set of three deep built-in storage units lines one wall of the bedroom alcove. One is outfitted as a closet to hang clothes and store suitcases. The middle unit houses a stacked washer and dryer and an ironing board. Pantry storage and a coffee bar are hidden behind the doors closest to the kitchen.

traditional bathroom vanity with neutral tones

Sometimes it can be better to go bigger in a little room. To maximize counter space in the bathroom, Marie chose the largest vanity that would fit. Wide drawers hold towels and extra toiletries right where they're needed.

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