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Transforming an Old Garage into a Beautiful Upstate Retreat: The Ancram Garage Reno



When we first visited the site, we were looking at a pretty standard 2 car garage. There were very steep and narrow steps leading from the main house down into the garage area with a crawl space for storage above the garage. Our clients came to us wanting to expand the floor plan to accommodate their large family for gatherings. In the serene escape from the hustle and bustle of NYC, they envisioned a home that harmonized with nature and provided ample room for their large family.


Right away, I knew I was going to love this project and love this couple. This project immediately captured our imagination, fueled by the clients' clear vision and openness to creative possibilities within their budget. The collaboration became a delightful journey, as we worked together to breathe new life into the space. The before photos showcase the raw potential of the area before our transformative touch.



1. slop sink by back entrance
2. Image of looking out of garage doors

3. Another view of garage below
4. Storage space above garage, entrance from main house

Pretty standard garage, right? Well, the first significant task was removing all the overhead flooring/storage space to create an open-concept feel. We immediately knew we wanted a pine ceiling, allowing the beautiful pitched roof to be visible from ground level. The second challenge was figuring out if we could squeeze in a tiny half bath downstairs. Picture needing to use the bathroom but having to trek up a flight of stairs – not the most enjoyable experience!


Initially, the clients envisioned placing it to the right of the utility closet under the stairs (see photo 3 above). However, this location meant drilling through concrete, relocating plumbing, and incurring a whole lot of extra work and expenses that didn't align with our budget!


By the way, these are the kind of challenges we love to tackle! Finding joy in solving such issues, we shifted our focus to the area where the slop sink was (see photo 1 above). This space was already a bit odd, and, more importantly, it had existing plumbing. After further exploration, with our incredible contracting team lifting floorboards, we discovered the main sewer line running directly beneath this spot! Cue the celebration – we could place the toilet right above it! YAY!


So, here's the scoop on how the construction unfolded and how we managed to fit the tiniest bathroom into the smallest space – which happens to be our specialty! Maybe we should consider starting a business specializing in designing the tiniest, but cutest, half bathrooms!



But before we get too ahead of ourselves... before construction even started, we had to create design plans! This is the initial step to ensure our clients don't end up spending a fortune. The planning process is absolutely crucial. It involves taking the entire scope, measurements, and 3D renderings to visualize how it will turn out before we dive into the demolition phase! Thank goodness for technology.

For any fellow designers out there curious about the software we use, feel free to shoot us an email, and we'll spill all our secrets! Now, without further ado, let's dive into the renderings...




There was this really cool side glass garage door that we absolutely wanted to keep for indoor/outdoor living – check it out in the two photos above. We went all out and built a patio outside of this side garage door, complete with outdoor furniture, sunshade, and some strategically placed plants for privacy. The result? A flexible space that seamlessly blends the indoors with the outdoors.


Now, onto the other challenge: redesigning the stairs leading down into the living room. Originally, they resembled more of a ladder stair – super narrow, steep, and definitely not up to code! So, we crafted a custom modern staircase that gives off the illusion of floating. Mixing elements of wood and steel, we achieved a balance of natural and industrial aesthetics. We particularly loved the patina on the steel support beam running along the garage, and the steel on the stairs tied in beautifully. Fun fact: we had to keep the beam for support, so we embraced it as part of the design!


Another major decision revolved around whether to keep the concrete floors. We had some leftover wood that we repurposed for the steps and landing area, but unfortunately, we didn't have enough material or room in the budget to cover the entire cement floors. Surprisingly, this compromise worked in our favor, contributing to the industrial look, durability, and easy maintenance.


Alright, enough of our rants – here are some additional photos showcasing the construction process, where you can truly witness the space coming to life!




As you observe, we made a transformative decision by replacing the two garage doors with two magnificent, expansive windows. Being involved in this project from its inception allowed us to seamlessly integrate budget considerations into the overall design. Typically, windows pose a significant financial investment, but we managed to discover these colossal, double-paned windows at Lowe's, available as stock items. The beauty of it all was that we could tailor our design and framing to perfectly accommodate these windows, resulting in substantial savings within our budget! You can check out the specific windows we used here.


And now, the moment we've all been waiting for – our final photos showcasing the completed space! Dive into the visual journey of how this project evolved into a harmonious blend of design, functionality, and budget-conscious decisions.



In the exciting journey of transforming a standard two-car garage into a spacious haven, our clients' vision and collaboration made this project a true delight. Starting with a typical garage setup, we took on the challenge of expanding the floor plan to accommodate a growing family's needs. The initial space featured steep and narrow stairs, but our clients' openness to creativity within budget constraints fueled our collaboration.


The final result is a space that embodies a harmonious blend of creativity, functionality, and budget-conscious choices. You can view the complete transformation in our final photos, and if you're interested in the furniture or details, drop a comment, and we'll happily share the links.


To top it off, this retreat is now available on Airbnb, inviting you to experience the magic of our upstate transformation firsthand. This project brought us immense joy, and we invite you to explore and book this home for your next getaway or family gathering! Book Here


Warm Regards, Lindsay, Austin & NR team ❤️
















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