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This is the story of a garage.

He was ready to move from his beloved bungalow in San Diego to join his bicoastal partner in West Hartford. Their love drew them together. Their intimate bond with their territorial cats was the wild card; how would they handle the move. This slowed things down. He even considered buying a small house nearby as a comfortable solution (a short walk rather than a long flight away). We helped them weigh options, which is how we came to the garage.

We took our time and came to appreciate the pace of this project story. We looked at houses when he was in town. They deliberated. We took more time, ever aware that her home might be arranged to ease the cat transition. But how? Sounds like a design problem doesn’t it.

Her house featured a secluded wooded back yard with a deck out past the rear garage. It overlooked a brook with no easy connection from the house. We call this friction.

The garage was in the way. A little bumpout addition off the living room further neutered the ability to ever park in the garage. It also created a tight little alcove exposed to the weather at the back door (the one route to the lovely deck).

Above the garage she had earlier added a wonderful bedroom suite with a four panel door overlooking the brook. By converting the garage and mimicing those doors and connecting the new space directly to the kitchen with a pocket door (cat separator) we could create a room that tied this backyard oasis to the house. By extending the roof of that little bumpout we could provide a sheltered rear entry. By adding a skylight there we could maintain daylight in the kitchen cozy corner with its big square window looking out to the yard. Replace the old asphalt with bluestone and we had a patio flowing directly to the deck. Sweet!

The cat separator (and a couple other discrete barriers) helped with the cat transition. We then joined two bedrooms to create a space just for him, decorated to be surrounded by art and objects that he loves with enough space to retreat to in what Sarah Susanka recommends as an “away room”; something we all benefit from and deserve if space allows.

This reconfiguration renewed the house and made space to support new relationships, accommodating both cats and people. It created the missing connection to the yard that he has taken to “wilding” with native plants to become a pollinator pathway. The cats transitioned and share the house comfortably now. He loves walking West Hartford, has embraced the cold, and treasures the trees. Thanks garage. Goodnight moon.

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