Thursday, February 26, 2015

Apartment Living… In the Country

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I realized I haven't posted an update on one of the main focuses of this blog, which is my own adventures in designing a brand new home, in a very long time… I actually don't think I've ever posted an update on the subject, if I'm being honest. And, if you know me, you know I'm always honest. So update on!

We may not live there yet, but "The Land"
still feels like home.
When it comes to the type of house we'd like to build on what we've affectionately dubbed "The Land" (40 acres of rolling hills and trees just north of Stony Plain, Alberta), my husband and I have gone back and forth, up and down and in all other possible directions.

What started out as a Victorian-inspired, turreted two-storey morphed into a one-and-a-half storey cape cod/craftsman complete with matching carriage house. Somewhere in between there were talks of living in an RV parked on the land (I'm all for living small, but there's a difference between a beautifully designed tiny home and year-round camping), or doing the whole modular home thing (which comes with it's own set of difficulties). We even went and looked at a log cabin that needed to be moved off an industrial piece of land with thoughts of renovating the crap out of the decrepit old thing. But yeah… umm… no…

Inspiration the first… (Funny story
about this image – I got it off
Google Maps after seeing it on
an episode of "Supernatural.")
And all the while one possibility came up again, and again, and again. What if we built a garage that was also an apartment? (Also sometimes called a coach house or the aforementioned carriage house.) Not having a garage on our property isn't really an option when there inevitably will be skid steers and graders and hoes to store and maintain. This fact is something you accept when you're married to a heavy-equipment operator. Just like you accept that when you're married to a writer there will be books. Lots and lots of books. Oh, and also no money.

So, unless we want to throw down some bedrolls amidst the oil stains, we'll also need somewhere to lay our weary heads. As I already briefly mentioned, we've always said we'd like to have an apartment above the garage anyway for either a rental suite our a guest/grandparent suite. So, why not do a two birds, one stone type thing?

Inspiration the second...
Now, the plan was to build the garage apartment first, live in it for awhile, then build our "real-life home" (the term I use instead of "dream home," because you might as well add "Barbie" to the start of the latter phrase), but being the fiscally responsible people we are, Devin and I knew there was a possibility it was a one or the other type thing. Build the house  no garage apartment. Build the garage apartment  no house.

Picture something like this, but with
less landscaping and more... land.
And so it went on like this… for a long time. Until the decision was made that if we ever want to live on "The Land" we'd better you-know-what or get off the you-know-what. And thus we went with the [hopefully] less expensive option of the two, which is why I'm about to wrap up this blog post, fire up AutoCAD and put the finishing touches on the design I've been feverishly working on for the last few months.

Part workshop, part living quarters. Part logical, part lovely. Part garage, part apartment. All home.

How do you feel about garage apartments? Would you ever live in one? What does your "real-life home" look like (not the one you already live in, but the one you envision at night to lull yourself to sleep… or am I the only one who does that…)?

6 comments:

Amanda Kurytnik said...

That is a wonderful idea!! Seems so simple but in a great way. Always finding what suits you and your family is the most important. Friends of mine build houses and they are some of the most beautiful I have seen and would love to live in. Good luck in time to come with your new adventure.

Connie AT said...

Love the idea of multi-functional houses, i guess that is the trend now that many people combine their living and working activities in the same space. I always thought that a big piece of land would make for a wonderful living space regardless of the size of the house, actually the smaller the house the better (less work). I believe a huge chunk of the fun of going through the process of getting your own space the way you want it, is the dreaming and planning that precedes the final product. Enjoy the ride!

Devin Patterson said...

It's a hard decision to make. But what it comes down to is if you have to choose between dream home without the property or the property with a comfortable beautiful home. I for one don't think you can replace the natural beauty of a property and I think it's an exciting adventure in life to give it a try.

Larissa Swayze said...

Thanks for the comments everyone!

Mandy - do your friends the house builders have a website? I'd love to check out their work.

Connie - "multi-functional houses," what a great term!

Devin - you can't replace the natural beauty of... your face!

PS - My apologies for replying to everyone at once, but the way I have my comments set up Blogger won't let me reply individually. If anyone knows how to fix this problem please let me know!

Anonymous said...

I posted a beautifully written comment to this blog and #%*^#google wiped it out! Damn you Google! Anyways... The gist was that yes I would live in a garage/apartment in a heartbeat just to live on my land. And truth be told I will most likely be doing just that come summer when the farm gets sold. Well either a garage/apartment or just a garage. Or an RV. But first we need land..... I'm stopping now. Auntie c.

Larissa Swayze said...

Yeah… Google… enough said. Thanks for the comment "Auntie C" (so cryptic!). How about living in an RV parked inside of a garage? We've talked about that too...