Battered by time and weather, this detached garage's fate was ticking down to a forlorn end.
Change a Garage Into a Mini Cottage for Guests
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

Battered by time and weather, this detached garage's fate was ticking down to a forlorn end. Homeowners George and Marguerita Riggall had just about given up on it. Because renovations to the main house had already been planned, the garage's shabby shape was even more apparent.

Something's Gotta Give
Even with the beautiful improvements made to their home, the Riggalls still needed more room for company and a new shelter for their cars. The old garage was beyond saving, so they tore it down and started from scratch. The plan was to build one structure containing a side-by-side garage and guest house. "We often have our four children, their families, and friends come visit us," Marguerita explains. "To accommodate everyone comfortably, a guest house was very much in order."

As with any building project, this endeavor came with some constraints. "We quickly discovered that local codes in Nashville required us to keep the new structure within the original foundation line of the former one," says George. To help them accomplish their goals, the couple called upon the same architect, Nancy Hayden, and the same builder, Jim Lowe, who had transformed the main house.

Built With Guests in Mind
Today, a picturesque mini cottage sits just steps from the Riggalls' back door. Because the primary residence displays Gothic arches and other eclectic elements, Nancy mirrored those details in the new building's design. In particular, the guest house's French doors and entryway set the stage for a relaxing stay. A copper cupola topped with a weathervane perches at the ridge of the garage's roof for extra appeal.

Inside the cottage, all the comforts of home await. Crowned with a vaulted, beaded-board ceiling, the space is neatly configured witha bed, sitting/dining nook, kitchenette, and separate bath. A side bay window allows in sunlight.

Attractive and Efficient
Tranquil and inviting, the guest house benefits from a well-planned design. "For instance, Marguerita and I didn't want HVAC ductwork intruding on the lofty ceiling, so we installed a heating-and-air-conditioning unit just above the upper cabinets of the kitchenette," George explains. This particular model requires only a 10- x 20-inch opening, and it operates by remote control.

The space is also equipped with an on-demand gas hot water heater. Roughly the size of a phone book, on-demand units use energy only when the hot water faucet is turned on.

Comforts such as ample hot water aren't just coveted by guests. "Here's our secret," confides Marguerita: "We occasionally use the cottage ourselves. It's like being on a trip without leaving home!"

Architecture by Nancy Hayden Architect, Nashville, Tennessee, (615) 353-9952; builder was Jim Lowe, CMS Services, Culleoka, Tennessee; wall heating and air-conditioning unit by Sanyo; tankless water heater by Bosch AquaStar.

This article is from the June 2005 issue of Southern Living.