How 3 families in NoVA turned garages into staples of their homes

From a guest house to an office, these three renovated spaces in Northern Virginia hold far more than just the family car.


Transoms above the garage doors, as well as side windows, provide lots of natural light in the garage. The steel I-beam supporting the second floor doubles as a path for Marshall’s trolley chain hoist. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg)

Our garage is a new construction,” says Marshall Lytle, a retired Coast Guard officer who, along with wife, Janice, chose to add a two-story garage to their Alexandria home, purchased in 2015 for its larger lot size (the couple has lived in the neighborhood for 18 years).

“I wanted a spacious, modern auto workshop, with storage capability,” continues the auto enthusiast and race car driver, “A clean, organized space to restore my vintage cars and motorcycles, modify my race cars, as well as manage the day-to-day maintenance of our daily driven cars.”

Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Architect Christine Kelly of Crafted Architecture LLC collaborated with builder Gayland French to create a well-lit garage that could accommodate multiple BendPak car lifts and heavy-duty storage racks. They also installed year-round HVAC for climate control. The garage is floored in concrete, with a protective Spartacote finish, and has 4K LED lights and a plenty of electrical outlets. On the exterior, HardiePlank color and roofing materials match the house.

“Our wish list for the second floor was to have a multipurpose space, which would take advantage of our landscaped backyard and in-ground pool,” says Janice Lytle, who is an in-house home stager for the Alexandria office of Market Ready Staging Solutions.

Janice did the blue-and-white coastal-inspired decorating in the pool house, including vintage rattan furniture from an estate sale in Newport, Rhode Island, and a hand-hooked nautical rug by Claire Murray. Wall paint is Benjamin Moore’s Collingwood and the flooring, with a washed-wood finish, is laminate flooring by AquaGuard. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg)

The upper level contains an at-home office and workout space for Marshall, but its jewel is what Janice affectionately refers to as her “pool house.” With French doors opening on either side, the pool house opens up onto a small balcony, with steps leading down to the swimming pool and sun-lounging area.

“It’s a lovely space where the homeowner can entertain her friends and cool off in the summer, while being part of the action,” adds Kelly of the space that is decorated in a coastal style, with an indoors-outdoors vibe.

There is also a covered walkway that runs atop a brick wall, connecting the garage to the main house. It also adds an additional barrier of separation between the street and the inner backyard and swimming pool.

“The garage spaces are utilized every day by Janice or me, and often both of us,” says Marshall. “It has completely met our expectations.”

Marvelous Master

The master bedroom is where the house ends and the addition begins. Wall-to-wall carpeting from Farsh in Old Town Alexandria provides continuity into the newer part of the master suite. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg)

Homeowners Chuck and Linda Holliman’s roots in the Mount Vernon area run deep, having lived in the neighborhood since 1993.

“In 2015, Linda and her husband Chuck reached out to me to design a large, two-story garage for them, with additional space above the car garage to extend their master suite,” says architect Christine Kelly of Crafted Architecture LLC.

“Our garage was much smaller before, and primarily used as storage for bikes and garden tools,” says Linda of the former one-story structure accessible from the rear side of the house.

An antique chest of drawers, along with an Elfa organizer system from the Container Store, keeps clothing and shoes effectively stored in “her” walk-in-closet. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg)

During the demolition of the old garage, where Kelly collaborated with Potts & Chapa Construction, the brick was carefully saved to be repurposed in the new one with garage doors that faced the street.

“It was important for the new structure to flow seamlessly into the main house in a purposeful way,” says Kelly. To which Linda adds, “The exterior was done so well, it looks original to the home.”

Once rebuilt, the space now features a spacious two-car garage below, with a potting sink and access to the backyard. Upstairs, there is a new master bathroom and his-and-her closets, as well as a hallway leading from the original master bedroom into the new en suite spaces. (The former master bathroom was redirected for use by an adjacent bedroom.)

A botanical wallpaper, double mirrors with antique frames and three silvered bamboo wall sconces add interest above the double vanity. Quartz counter tops are from Architectural Ceramics. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg)

“We designed the new bathroom, which features a bathtub, shower and double vanities, to overlook their lovely garden, while giving them privacy,” says Kelly, referencing the bank of part-shuttered windows.

Linda decorated the various spaces to blend with existing decor. “It feels like home, but much better,” she says, adding, “The new bathroom and closet are tremendous upgrades, and having ample space in the garage is a dream come true.”

Visitors Welcome

Builder Gayland French custom designed the Murphy unit, with its integrated drawer storage and display shelves. The settee fabric is from Calico Corners. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg)

We’d been considering adding a garage to our home for a number of years,” says homeowner Carol Harvey, who lives in Alexandria’s Wellington neighborhood off the GW Parkway with her husband, Rob Harvey.

“Being on a corner lot, we had concerns about where to situate it, and we also wanted to be sure we could build something aesthetically pleasing that worked with the ‘natural’ feel of our yard,” she continues.

A raised brick planter runs the guest entry’s periphery of the stand-alone structure. Clopay Garage Doors, with a walnut finish, add organic warmth to the garage, as does the cedar wood pergola. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg)

In 2016, the homeowners reached out to local architect Christine Kelly of Crafted Architecture LLC to design a freestanding two-car garage, with guest quarters above. To connect it visually to the main house, the same building materials were used, including brick and HardiePlank siding.

“We then added a cedar pergola, linking it to the home via an expanded patio in the yard,” says Kelly. “It gives their guests a lovely walkway to navigate between the new space and the main house.”

The Harveys, who have a traditionally decorated home, wanted their guest quarters to have a contrasting open, airy and modern feel, while providing creature comforts.
“It’s a comfortable, private, contained space, with lots of natural light, and was designed to make guests feel welcome,” adds Kelly.

Mosaic Tile glass tiles in shades of blue add color and shine to the kitchenette’s backsplash. Cabinetry is also by Kraftmaid and the stone countertop was sourced from R. Bratti. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg)

The above-garage guest quarters are on an open floor plan furnished with a custom-designed Murphy bed unit by the project’s builder Gayland French, which contains surrounding drawers and shelves. There is also a compact bathroom, with a glass-enclosed shower, as well as a small kitchenette with a refrigerator and microwave.

“Adding the garage increased the functionality of our house by giving us both a two-car garage and a nice guest suite,” says Carol. “We also like to hang out in the guest quarters sometimes ourselves, perhaps reading or exercising, when we don’t have company.”

This post originally appeared in our June 2019 issueSubscribe to our Home newsletter to see more unique designs in the NoVA region.

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