2022 Master Design Awards: Detached Structure — BRONZE

by Emily Blackburn

YR Architecture + Design

Columbus, Ohio

Location: Columbus, Ohio | Project Cost: $80,000
Square Footage before: 400 | Square Footage after: 575

When an architect and her partner devised a design for their backyard live/work studio in Columbus, Ohio, they imagined a space that was “design-forward, yet affordable”. The goal was to transform a 400sf detached garage into a design studio that could also serve as a guest house. Long term, the space could become a rental or a home for aging parents or alive-in nanny, so the design needed to address privacy, views, and autonomy. While the pair wanted something thoughtful with a high level of design rigor, craft, and quality, they also knew they had a very limited budget of $80k (about half of what it would realistically cost to make the transformation). The goal then became to self-build the project without sacrificing the design aesthetics or compromising on project goals. To keep the project on budget, the team built nearly everything themselves, salvaged what they could from the existing structure, creatively sourced materials, and chose budget-friendly products, all while maintaining full-time jobs.

The design mixes custom with off-the-shelf solutions. Handmade custom white oak fronts cover cost-effective Ikea cabinets. Backsplashes are high-gloss Ikea cover panels while shower walls are grout-free laminate marine-grade plywood that mimics the concrete floors. Salvaged roof sheathing from the original structure was milled and stained for the loft flooring. Choosing cost-effective solutions and creative applications of materials helped offset splurges in areas that mattered most: daylighting, furnishings, and custom built-ins. On the exterior, contextual appropriateness was important for a neighborhood that was new to the concept of ADUs. As a pioneering prototype for the community, the team felt that the structure should fit in with the surrounding neighborhood and the main house just ten feet away. White fiber cement board lap siding matches the color and coursing of the main house while trim was eliminated to give the exterior a modern clean aesthetic.


Siding: James Hardie lap siding
Insulation: Insofast panels
Countertops: Patriot Stone quartz
Marine grade laminate shower panels: Innovative Building Solutions

Water heater: EcoSmart
Mini split: MrCool
Appliances: GE, LG
Kitchen Cabinets: Ikea cabinet boxes w/ custom white oak veneer fronts
Custom cabinetry: White oak veneer, solid white oak, painted birch plywood

Other Millwork by Tobias KatzSpiral stair fabrication by Josh Wooten
Plumbing: Ikea, Kohler
Windows: Andersen Windows
Skylights: Velux

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