A Couple’s Garage Becomes Their Chic New Home

(upbeat guitar music) – If you asked me if I
thought that we would end up in a tiny home or in a small space, I’d say probably not. – When we first intended
to move into a garage we thought our neighbors
would think we were crazy. But, instead, people love it. If anything, people
seem to mistake our home for a bar or restaurant. And so at night, when we’re hanging out with friends drinking a glass of wine, there’s a little confusion
as people walk by and see this well-lit
space with people drinking. You know, they walk up and go like, what are you serving? – When we first had this idea to turn the garage into our home, we decided that we wanted everything to be tucked away in a space so that when you walk in it’s very clean, it’s very sleek, it’s very minimalist. – The overall look and feel, or aesthetic, of our place has somehow
become very industrial. It wasn’t part of the intent, but we built everything by hand because it fit what we had available and it fit our budget at the time. We found a community wood shop to go work at and I taught myself to weld. Started creating some
small pieces of furniture and bar stools, chairs, end tables, and that aesthetic of the steel and reclaimed wood kinda spilled over into the cabinetry and the
rest of our space as well. Our concrete countertops are
a perfect example of that. The most difficult conversation when it comes to small
space living is storage. What am I going to do with my stuff? Where am I going to put everything? Luckily, for us that was a bit of an easier conversation
because we had already purged most of our belongings. – The process of downsizing was over the course of many years. At first, it was just
putting stuff in bins and tucking them away and
if we didn’t open them for a few months, then we
would just go and donate them. From there we sold even
more and gave away even more because we were gonna road trip and our road trip was open ended, we didn’t know what we were
going to do afterwards. So to store stuff just didn’t feel right. When you downsize and you get rid of a lot of stuff, there’s
a real freedom there. A real simplification. (laughs) – Jen and I left our nine to five jobs to go travel and explore
and take deep breaths. We moved into our 1967
old split-window bus, very romantic idea, but
only about 47 square feet as we calculated it. So that was our smallest living situation. After a year and a half on the road, we came back to Portland to say hi to friends and family
because we missed them and realized that we
actually love Portland and we love our home here. We still had a three bedroom house that was sitting here being
rented to another family. It was time for that lease to expire and we asked them to leave,
they begged us to stay, and we realized that
we don’t have the stuff to fill a three bedroom
house anymore anyway. And so it finally hit us that there’s this garage that’s going unused. That we weren’t using,
the tenants weren’t using, and we could just convert
the garage and live in it. – Because Brian and I live in the garage, we are able to rent out the main house. It’s a three bedroom, two bath. They pay, essentially, the mortgage and so Brian and I live in our garage rent free, mortgage free. – We both had jobs that probably should have been perfect jobs, you know? They paid well, but we just
never quite felt right. 70 hours a week, it just
didn’t seem a good fit to us and Jen is kind of a hippy at heart and was always kind of saying
we should just run away, we should run away and I don’t know. I come from an upbringing
and society tells us that’s not okay. And so I was like, that’s not okay. What about our 401k? What about our savings and our retirement and the plan? We kind of compromised
and set a plan in place. For me it wasn’t just run away, it was have a buffer in our finances so when we came back we didn’t
have to go beg for jobs. We could actually try to do
something that we wanted. – Freedom is really our mantra right now. Freedom in our schedules, freedom to make choices
that make us happy. As we’re talking about the designs and what the space should be, we talked a lot about our lifestyle and what we wanted to do in this space. So we love to drink wine, we love to have people over. Brian fabricated a wine rack for us so that it’s not just
functional for holding wine, but it’s also a beautiful piece. The house numbers are made out of screws. We had a whole bunch of screws
left over from a project. – We wanted everything
to have more than one use and so the bar on our island, for example, is an island bar and
great place for sitting, but then can spin out
so that we can actually sit six people for dinner when our friends and family come over. That type of transitional space, or flexible furniture and uses, just allows our place to live much larger than it actually is. The stairs that allow
us to get up to our loft is actually a set of cabinetry as well and so they actually push into our closet or our cabinets and then pull back out for us to climb up to the loft. – They were designed
primarily with our dog in mind so that she
could climb up and down. But one of my favorite places
in the house is the shower. It’s feels like you’re outdoors, which I love, and there
are two shower heads. So (laughs) it’s a bit romantic. – Basically our living space is intended to just spill out to outside. And so our largest luxury item in creating this space was this very large accordion door system that folds open to kind of remove the wall between inside and outside. Most of our living space becomes kind of our front yard as we open the doors and kind of hang out
inside as well as outside, talking to neighbors and people that are biking and walking by. We met people who said, hey
can you help me do that? We want to live in a similar space or we want to remodel our home or our garage to do the same thing. And so we eventually
started helping them do so. Zenbox Design was born. Which is basically a small
side business we have of helping people design tiny spaces. – You can do anything
you want in this life. Just go after it,
Whatever makes you happy. Don’t settle. It’s this beautiful
little like zen sanctuary and it’s cheap livin’ too. (laughs) (mellow bluegrass music)

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