Apartment Living in the Country

February 26, 2015

Garage Apartment by Of Houses and Trees | A garage apartment, aka carriage house, can be used as a primary residence, guest suite or rental property. Versatile! Which is why we're building one.
(Image Credit: All images found via Pinterest.)

I realized I haven’t posted an update on one of the main focuses of this blog, which is my own adventures in designing a brand new home, in a very long time… I actually don’t think I’ve ever posted an update on the subject, if I’m being honest. And, if you know me, you know I’m always honest. So update on!

When it comes to the type of house we’d like to build on what we’ve affectionately dubbed “The Land” (40 acres of rolling hills and trees just north of Stony Plain, Alberta), my husband and I have gone back and forth, up and down and in all other possible directions.

What started out as a Victorian-inspired, turreted two-storey morphed into a one-and-a-half storey cape cod/craftsman complete with matching garage apartment. Somewhere in between we talked of living in an RV parked on the land (I’m all for living small, but there’s a difference between a beautifully designed tiny home and year-round camping). Or doing the whole modular home thing (which comes with it’s own set of difficulties). We even went and looked at a log cabin that needed to be moved off an industrial piece of land with thoughts of renovating the crap out of the decrepit old thing. But yeah… umm… no…

A Victorian-style home that inspired my house design plans before I switched gears to a garage apartment.
House design inspiration the first… (Funny story about this image – I got it off Google Street View after seeing it on an episode of Supernatural.)

And all the while one possibility came up again, and again, and again. What if we just built a garage apartment to start? (Also sometimes called a carriage or coach house.) Not having a garage on our property isn’t really an option when there inevitably will be skid steers and graders and hoes to store and maintain. You accept this fact when you’re married to a heavy-equipment operator. Just like you accept when you’re married to a writer there will be books. Lots and lots of books. Oh, and also no money.

So, unless we want to throw down some bedrolls amidst the oil stains, we’ll also need somewhere to lay our weary heads. As I already briefly mentioned, we’ve always said we’d like to have an apartment above the garage anyway for either a rental suite our a guest/grandparent suite. So, why not do a two birds, one stone type thing?

A Craftsman-style home that inspired my house design plans before I switched gears to a garage apartment.
House design inspiration the second… (Image Credit: Architectural Designs)

Now, the plan was to build the garage apartment first. Then live in it for awhile. Then build our real-life home. (The term I use instead of dream home. Because you might as well add “Barbie” to the start of that phrase.) But being the fiscally responsible people we are, we knew it likely was a one or the other type thing. Build the house – no garage apartment. Build the garage apartment – no house.

And so it went on like this… for a long time. Until we made the decision that if we ever want to live on the land we’d better you-know-what or get off the you-know-what. And thus we went with the [hopefully] less expensive option of the two, which is why I’m about to wrap up this blog post, fire up AutoCAD and put the finishing touches on the design I’ve been feverishly working on for the last few months.

The land where we're planning on building a garage apartment.
We may not live there yet, but “The Land” still feels like home.

Part workshop, part living quarters, part logical, part lovely, part garage, part apartment – all home.

How do you feel about a garage apartment? Would you ever live in one? What does your real-life home look like? (Not the one you already live in, but the one you envision at night to lull yourself to sleep. Or am I the only one who does that…?) Don’t forget to subscribe to read more about architecture as well as interior design, DIY projects, sustainability, home decor, crafts, gardening and healthy eating.

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Garage Apartment | A garage apartment, aka carriage house, can be used as a primary residence, guest suite or rental property. Versatile! Which is why we're building one.
(Image Credit: All images found via Pinterest.)

10 thoughts on “Apartment Living in the Country

  • February 26, 2015 at 4:27 pm
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    That is a wonderful idea!! Seems so simple but in a great way. Always finding what suits you and your family is the most important. Friends of mine build houses and they are some of the most beautiful I have seen and would love to live in. Good luck in time to come with your new adventure.

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    • February 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm
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      Do your friends the house builders have a website? I’d love to check out their work. Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  • February 27, 2015 at 10:24 am
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    Love the idea of multi-functional houses, i guess that is the trend now that many people combine their living and working activities in the same space. I always thought that a big piece of land would make for a wonderful living space regardless of the size of the house, actually the smaller the house the better (less work). I believe a huge chunk of the fun of going through the process of getting your own space the way you want it, is the dreaming and planning that precedes the final product. Enjoy the ride!

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    • February 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm
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      “Multi-functional houses,” what a great term! Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  • February 27, 2015 at 10:29 am
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    It’s a hard decision to make. But what it comes down to is if you have to choose between dream home without the property or the property with a comfortable beautiful home. I for one don’t think you can replace the natural beauty of a property and I think it’s an exciting adventure in life to give it a try.

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    • February 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm
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      You can’t replace the natural beauty of… your face!

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  • February 28, 2015 at 12:53 pm
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    I posted a beautifully written comment to this blog and #%*^#google wiped it out! Damn you Google! Anyways… The gist was that yes I would live in a garage/apartment in a heartbeat just to live on my land. And truth be told I will most likely be doing just that come summer when the farm gets sold. Well either a garage/apartment or just a garage. Or an RV. But first we need land….. I’m stopping now. Auntie c.

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    • February 28, 2015 at 3:17 pm
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      Yeah… Google… enough said. Thanks for the comment “Auntie C” (so cryptic!). How about living in an RV parked inside of a garage? We’ve talked about that too…

      Reply
  • May 15, 2017 at 9:54 am
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    I used to think I would dream of living in a generous sized home on a generous sized portion of land, but as I got older (and tired of cleaning larger spaces) and realized that more room means more stuff that I rarely ever look at (let alone use), my desires changed. Now when I think about my “real life” home, I see not the home but the outdoor space I will enjoy with it. I plan to be a drifter and live in a RV, personally love the idea of all year round camping and ability to change scenery daily. Of course I know this comes with its own set of complications to work through but its the way I see my life. (Once the kids are old enough of course, until then, home is where there is room for us all. lol)

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    • May 19, 2017 at 9:30 am
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      I can totally see the RV drifter life working for you. Think how freeing it would be to have almost no possessions and no mortgage or rent payments! Me, I like my homes to be stationary, but you never now what the future holds…

      Reply

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