Design snapshot: Mini-me garage

As this garage with second-floor living space was being built, I expected to dislike it. Why, I wondered, would they put a garage directly in front of the house, effectively hiding the main attraction? I had been a big fan of the house and had even extolled the virtue of its original dormers in a JLC column about dormer design. When the garage went up, the dormers on the house were regrettably reconfigured. (You can see a sketch of the earlier dormer design towards the bottom of the second page of the JLC column.)

Yet now, years later, the completed garage, planted a few feet in front of the house, strikes me as a pretty appealing mini-me.

Though view from the front of the house is blocked, the small distance between the two buildings allows for at least indirect daylight to enter there. It’s better than if the two buildings had been attached. My bad; they are discreetly attached, off-camera. Making the mini-me seemingly independent helps to keep the house from appearing overly long and monotonous. It differentiates the subordinate use of the garage from the main residence. Matching, or nearly matching, the primary roof slope and details from the house, while scaling them down on the garage, makes for a successful pairing, like big bear and little bear. The shed dormer which extends from the upper slope of the gambrel roof on the garage is different from the long, linear dormer on the house, but related.  Repeating the same window type from the house in the garage helps to further tie the two together.

The second floor shutters on both the house and garage, however, should really go, unless they’re sized appropriately. Turns out they are sized correctly to fully cover the windows they serve; they're bifold shutters. Pet peeves aside, I’ve warmed to this mini-me garage.

Read more about shed dormers in a design column I wrote and illustrated for Fine Homebuilding.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast