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As your family grows, your space has to grow with it, but when you can’t yet afford a gut renovation or full-on move, you have to get creative. For these homeowners living in Sarasota, Florida, that meant utilizing the detached garage. “This wasn’t your typical garage conversion,” designer Rushika Gill of Hólos Design notes. “The budget simply did not allow for any structural reconfiguration, so we had to work with the existing shell.”

The garage, before.
The garage, before.

Gill managed to nestle a moody restaurant-like kitchen (“I’ve always wanted to do one,” she notes), living room, bathroom, and even a washing machine into the space once dedicated to storing a car—and she did it all for $14,000, too. The caveat? The family still needed room to park their car. Gill installed clever storage solutions and modular furniture to make it work, but that doesn’t mean it lacked personality. “I wanted to create something that felt fresh, minimal, yet fun,” Gill says. Playful tiling, vintage cabinetry, and pebblelike counters create the illusion that you’re still inside the house. Here, Gill shares how she turned the clunky garage into a do-it-all dwelling, even when they were in a pinch for money and space.

Use Your Peripheral Vision

Gill’s clients were adamant about having the ability to park one car if needed. So she situated all the built-in elements—like the kitchenette, vanity sink, and storage—along the periphery. Meanwhile, she made all the pieces in the center mobile, opting for lightweight furniture and an island on casters. 

The result is almost like a life-size dollhouse, where the family can move (or roll) around the furniture at a whim for any activity—whether they’re hosting overnight guests, entertaining, or working out. In other words? It’s a “true flex space that can be morphed with their changing needs,” Gill explains.

Optimize Your Island

Gill wanted a beautiful island that could add storage and double as a dining or work surface. Constructing one from scratch was the best way to tick all the boxes. The bottom half is outfitted in wire shelves made from old storage racks that had previously gone unused in the garage. The shelves sit atop recycled wood beams that sandwich the stainless steel legs with bolts on each end, allowing them to be adjusted for when they need to place bulky baskets and pots underneath the countertop.

The old but sturdy stainless steel legs were capped with casters for extra height and mobility. Plus a vast acacia butcher block, a durable material that can handle all the meals, laptops, and chopping that comes its way, sits pretty on top.

Reuse and Recycle

Reusing materials was a must to keep within the tight budget parameters. “I was very conscious of reducing waste directed to the landfill,” Gill explains. For instance, she sourced an L-shaped granite countertop from Facebook Marketplace that she eventually sliced open, joining the two pieces in a straight line to accommodate the existing sink opening.

Gill also repurposed a vintage Crane utility sink to act as the new bathroom vanity. “All it needed was some paint and a little creativity!” Gill says. A similar treatment was applied to the existing garage door, doused in a fresh coat of paint and an abstract mural, transforming it from eyesore to art piece.

Dig Through the Archives (Er, Attic)

Gill stumbled across a box of leftover tile in the family’s attic as she began renovating. It was filled with beautiful cream and sage squares that were in great condition, but there were only enough to cover 15 square feet. That didn’t stop Gill, though. “I took what came my way for this project,” she emphasizes. 

She designed a vanity wall, styling the tiles in a slim checkerboard pattern to create a wainscot-inspired look. The vanity was completed with a large custom mirror, off-center wall sconces, IKEA table, and the Crane sink. The result? An elegant vignette you would never know cost next to nothing.