The Covid-19 pandemic has turned office-based work culture on its head. Between government mandated shutdowns and reduced ability to travel, companies have had to adapt to employees working from home. But the transition has often been far from smooth, with space requirements being a key correlate of productivity. With spouses, home schooling, and often cramped living quarters, a growing trend has emerged in converting garages into home offices.
DC-based architecture firm Ballard+Mensua specialize in interior design and construction management and recently completed two such conversions for local homeowners. Garden designer Kathryn Everett hired Ballard+Mensua to convert her detached garage into a combination home office and guest suite. Principal Seth Ballard replaced the garage doors with carriage house style French doors, allowing abundant natural light, and replaced the roof with Spanish tile. Plumbing and a new bathroom were added along with custom built-ins to create a dynamic and functional workspace. Spanish tile decorative accents were included to reflect the original architecture of the main house. Distressed porcelain tile was added to the floors and reclaimed beams were added to the ceiling to create a rustic feel. Everett, with her strong design background chose the décor herself and Lighting specialists Urban Electric were contracted to ensure lighting needs were appropriate to an office style space.
In another project, Artist Sharapat Saresenova and her husband Eric Kessler hired Ballard+Mensua to convert their unused garage into an artist studio. Ballard repurposed original ceiling boards to build a custom deck and back wall. New windows and a patio door were added and the original ceiling was stained. Shelving was installed, supported by pipe fittings which gave an industrial gallery feel to the space. Track lighting was added to brighten the interior.
Another DC-based firm Teass Warren Architects took a different approach in creating an accessory structure in the form of a retreat and sanctuary space. Christopher Dorval, owner of a high-powered PR firm Dorval Strategies wanted to create a Zen like environment separate from the main family home. Teass Warren partnered with a landscape architects Moody Graham and structural engineers to anchor the studio within both a functional but also ecologically informed and visually pleasing aesthetic. The structure is sited in the back garden of a large wooded lot and serves as a focal point for outdoor activities and family gatherings, as well as doubling as a painting studio, yoga room and space for quiet contemplation.
Air conditioning allows year-round use and the structure could easily be converted into an accessory dwelling unit if future need arose. The material palate of the main house is echoed in window style, brick, slate, and copper accents. Exposed Douglas Fir beams line the ceiling and create warmth. Landscape outdoors is framed through careful composition of sightlines and large viewing windows, and the structure itself serves almost as a lantern - drawing visitors through lush gardenscapes and harnessing the restorative energy of Mother nature.