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Design

Should The Farmhouse Garage Be The EHD Studio Space??

At the top of the list titled “Things we’d like to put off forever” are 1. our kids growing up and leaving us and 2. rebuilding the garages. Necessary, but not my favorite way to spend $$. As I write this post it dons on me that perhaps we could kill two birds and create a compound for our kids to live in the garages, thus avoiding the horror of #1 altogether. Eh? While that isn’t the plan I’m legit rethinking it this very second – I mean what is the housing situation going to be like in 15 years?? Anyway, these garages I know will be a valuable way to invest in the property and as my business moves more into product development or different future revenue streams (Yes, I’m always toying with a podcast, design retreats, and/or photo studio space). You can’t have this real estate taken up by four extremely dilapidated garages forever. Here is how it looked last year during construction (pre-new re-grind driveway).

Here is how it relates to the property – it’s near the kit house (or what I’ve been calling the Victorian), but separated by a few feet (we’ve thought about connecting them and might construct the garages so that if we wanted to one day do that we could:) You can see our house in early construction in the back there.

Here are some things you should know:

  1. It would likely be cheaper and easier to just demo them out and rebuild with basic electrical, drywall, etc- to rethink the whole thing entirely. But they are so close to the property line (thus our neighbor’s houses) that we can’t rebuild. We need to keep some walls to be grandfathered in, thus remodeling and not just rebuilding.
  2. The structure itself is probably from the 1850s, so close to 200 years old. And let’s just say that this little old lady did not take good care of herself. She is absolutely falling down (you’ll see) and can’t even really be storage right now as everything gets wet, moldy, and spidery. Truly a waste of space (and likely dangerous).
  3. There is a lot of history here! As a massive sentimentalist, I love that these were once carriage houses (so sweet!) and a sheep barn. While we can’t really retain much of the original structure I’m curious how we can rebuild them to keep or add any charm.
  4. None of the garage doors work – one goes up and down, but they all have to be replaced. So yeah, it’s going to be a thing but at least it’s on this area of the property that we don’t hang out in at all so it can be relatively contained.

So What’s The Plan??? Why The Garages Before The Other Kit House??

Step 1: Garages, Step 2: Remodel the Kit House (oof). We need more space for work, but NOT an “office” per se. I love having a collaborative space for the days we are together shooting or designing, but we all prefer writing/editing or doing computer work on our non-shoot/prep days at our own houses. The long-term plan is to redo the original farmhouse on the property – a kit house from the 1850s that came flat-packed on a train. It’s adorable, despite not having electrical, plumbing, HVAC, or one straight angle. But right now that kit house is used for dry storage (props), rugs, furniture, etc – all necessities of my job. We are not prepared for what that will cost or how we even want to go about doing it (DIY over 5 years? Just make it safe? Totally invest and make it a proper house for future parents or kids or a guest house as we potentially rent it out?). After three years of renovation on our main house and yard, we need another 1-2 years to save $$, pitch partnerships, and think about it all. So our plan is to invest in the garages (knowing it will still be very expensive) because it’s much more straightforward. It’s hopefully not going to take too much of my creative energy (I have to focus on the river house). Sure we have to have a plan and of course, I’ll want it to look really good, but they will be more functional, utilitarian, and most of the work will be done by our contractor and subs. Then once we are done with those we’ll move the prop storage into it and hopefully by then feel ready to tackle the kit house. We feel pretty good about this timeline – I should be done with the river house by the end of 2024, early 2025 so then I can jump on the kit house.

It’s a lot of square footage and could easily be a six-car garage, but obviously, we aren’t going to do that. I don’t know how we are going to use the space but I do know that this job requires storage more than any other (and office/studio/projects). We are very grateful to have all of this potential space, that’s for sure.

We had the garages painted at the end of the summer because they were so dilapidated that they were bumming us out since the house finally was done. So we found a painter who was willing to do very little prep and just give all the outbuildings a coat of white paint (except the barn) so that they looked 30% better. The siding is in terrible shape and properly prepping it (scraping off decades of old paint, sanding, etc) would’ve taken so much time and been so laborious. We know (almost 100%) that we are going to have to reside altogether so investing in painting this properly was dumb.

The plan is as follows, left to right:

  1. Storage for larger pieces This would be for rugs, furniture, and larger shelves for vintage furniture. While we love the idea of the sheep barn, we plan on zero sheep in our future. This room won’t have a window but will have large doors to get furniture in and out of easily. I’m thinking some pretty/sweet carriage doors.
  2. Two car garages – While we aren’t sure if we’ll use them, we know that people really believe in garages (especially “car” people), and while we never think about resale (the likelihood of ever getting out of this house what we will have put into it is ZERO. Due to that we don’t really think we’ll sell it until we absolutely need to, likely decades from now). But we also know many people who have not been able to sell their houses easily because they didn’t have a good garage situation (especially at this price point). Besides in the winter, Brian does want to park his vintage truck in here. So I’m thinking two carriage-style garage doors for storage and two more traditional motorized garage doors for actual cars.
  3. “EHD Project Room” – This is the catchall term because we don’t know if we know exactly what this room would be for, but essentially it’s a non-in-my-home workspace – for shoots, design projects, and DIYs. We want at least one simple enough white wall to shoot content in front of. The point is – it will be finished out, and act as a secondary work space when we aren’t on our computers (or heck, maybe after the kids get home I’ll write in there?). It will have either one big garage door or more likely a set or multiple sets of carriage doors with windows in them. It will have drywall on the walls and ceiling (maybe paneling), cement floors, and natural light. In a perfect world, we do skylights so that we can keep the walls all storage or shoot walls. TBD. We won’t splurge on good flooring or wall paneling (as of now) and sadly have to drywall that beautiful ceiling in order to have insulation. And then we’ll add a mini-split for AC/heat.

The Project Room

The ceiling is so cool, but it’s also really rotted and we need to add insulation in order to keep it warm enough in the winter (and temperature-controlled for props). While you can add insulation on top of the roof (or so I’ve heard, although you have to re-roof) in order to keep the ceiling beams it’s way more expensive. So we are sadly going to drywall the ceiling and if I feel like we can spend money on it we’ll add paneling. Like I’ve said (repeatedly, now) I’m trying to not go “all out” on a garage-turned-project room but at the same time know that everything is a space that we shoot that can create some interesting storytelling so I don’t want it tooooooo boring.

So this room (the first garage/project room) will be most of my focus to make sure that it works for us without us spending too much mone. Bare bones. Cheap and fast. (Someone go ahead and screenshot that quote and we can all laugh at it in 2 years when I’ve made this the cutest project room ever that took 2 years to finish).

Last summer Gretchen, Brian, Bailey, and I spent a few days pulling everything out of the garages and the kit house and organizing it all (donating a lot). So above you can see it in a cleaner state. We have one extra sliding door that we could add over on that wall (there is some extra space on the other side but it’s all blackberry bushes) but again, not sure if we need that or if that’s just a fun thing to have that will cost money.

Here is what it looks like now. We’d likely salvage that window and keep it or put it somewhere else. I’m unsure if I want all three walls to be blank for storage, or to add windows or doors here (but that means we’d have to clean up the blackberry bushes and probably put up a new privacy fence, and well…everything this is a thing (also fully understanding that even being able to fantasize like this is a total privilege.) I wonder frequently if this would be used as some sort of prep kitchen should we do events here or maybe this is where a parent could age in place because it’s a single story and in that case, we need a small bathroom in here(!!).

The opposite wall will be likely a shoot wall or storage (at least for now). In my fantasies it has a door into the “car” garage and all the tools would be in that space so easy to get to, but not messing up our studio space.

The Future “2 Car Garage”

Now these rooms are huge and could easily fit even three smaller cars, but great for a roomy two-car garage. This will house more power tools and MAYBE this is eventually where we put one of those garage ceiling storage shelves for our holiday decor once the kit house is done (which won’t be for at least 2-3 years).

Right now it holds a bunch of my sister’s bins (watertight I hope!) and a ton of leftover building material that we plan on using.

It’s in ROUGH condition – the floors are wood and rotted (and you can easily step through them and break your ankle). There are many vines that have wormed their way into the garage. Also, the ceiling is falling down.

While the windows in here are nice, the neighbor’s fence is 2′ away so we’ll just have these be drywall and forego natural light in here.

The Sheep Barn

Truly a barn of horrors. This room is in the worst shape…

We have thought about foregoing this room altogether, but if we keep expanding product lines I think we are going to want as much safe storage as possible (and it’s not like this part of the yard is desirable or anything to use it for entertaining or playing).

It’s a real job, but like I said – it’s actually not intimidating to me because most of the work and brain space will be done by our contractors (JP and my brother) and a handful of subs. We’ll start with foundation, then walls, basic electrical, drywall, and paint. So easy, right???

What’s The Timing??

We are hoping to start ASAP with dreams of being done during the summer so we can transfer all the props and get settled before the rainy season (November) so that it’s usable next winter. So for those of you into garage content, this is really going to be your season at the farmhouse 🙂

*Photos by Kaitlin Green

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Kristi
1 month ago

I hear you! We have a hip barn. Put a new roof on it for 16k to stop the destruction that was occurring but she needs another 50k to be restored in a basic way. She’s at the end of the line for now after the home interior projects. People say how could they have let that beautiful barn go all the time about the sadness of so many going to their grave without knowing many of us are trying but it’s so much $$!

Molly
1 month ago
Reply to  Kristi

I feel you on this! We have a few old barns at our 1870 farmhouse, and the house is by far our priority (and $$). But the barns need some polish, which would really help with curb appeal. I am looking forward to seeing what EH does (and if she can keep it cheap but nice!) and hopefully stealing lots of ideas to implement.

Ashley
1 month ago

I have no doubt this will end up being the cutest prop room ever. Really curious about two things: Why not have the studio space next to the prop storage instead of having the garage between them? Since you’re talking about maybe not having windows at all, you don’t need the extra external wall for that. Why so much focus on “if we do that we’ll need privacy fencing” or “the windows are nice but the fence is 2′ away so we’ll just forgo natural light”? Like, unless you’re saying “studio space” and secretly mean “sex dungeon,” why is this a space that needs so much privacy? I do think that in terms of the long-term flexibility and resale of the property it would make sense to have the studio and props together, with windows and bathroom (and, anyway, if you’re putting in a long day at the studio do you really want to go all the way back to the far side of the house every time you have to use the bathroom?). That way if they ever need to transition to living space you’re not doing an entire other renovation. I’d even put windows in the garage (esp… Read more »

ashley
1 month ago
Reply to  Ashley

Another Ashley here – came to say these two things as well! Doesn’t make sense logistically to have the garage space in the middle. Why not shift garage space to sheep barn area and have storage adjacent to studio? And I say go for natural light over “privacy” any day. You can add window film, shades, etc. if/when need be.

Stephanie
1 month ago
Reply to  Ashley

I’d try to keep windows if at all possible, too (specially for a studio space). Even if they’re small. My aunt and uncle have one small window in their garage and their three outdoor kitties all sleep right next to it, they love it so much. It also helps ventilate the space from time to time when they’re doing projects in there. I wish I had one in my garage.

MBJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Ashley

Both of these are very, very good questions and I CACKLED at sex dungeon, hahaha. Based on what I see on HGTV, people are generally obsessed with privacy and I’m like, why??? Especially for an outbuilding such as this!

Addie
1 month ago
Reply to  Ashley

I second all of these points! I was thinking about at least a toilet and a utility sink for workdays with DIY shoots and projects. My office is literally a 30-second walk from my house and I’m always annoyed there isn’t a WC in my office. I hear the ideal of skylights for maximizing wall storage and nice indirect light for shoots, but airflow and keeping multiple future options available favor keeping windows and doors in place at least. There are some ways to insulate keeping existing ceiling beams, some kind of enclosed batting (not sure the term?) between the beams. It might be a more utilitarian look but I have seen it in restaurants and the like.

Olivia
1 month ago

This is exciting! For the first space, I think adding a kitchenette and ADA-compliant bathroom would be a really savvy move. That way your team can use the facilities on work days without having to head to the main house every time they want a cup of tea or to go to the bathroom, and if it does become an aging-in-place location, you’re already equipped. This also seems to be screaming for a VELUX collab so you get that natural light without having to revamp more of the property/dealing with neighbor sight-lines.

Stephanie
1 month ago
Reply to  Olivia

Love all these suggestions, Olivia!

MBJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Olivia

100% agree about the ADA compliant bathroom, even just for using while they are working in the prop space so they don’t have to go into the house. But if you add a kitchenette at this point, it’s fairly costly in permits to make it an ADU. Likely not worth the cost until they would be totally sure it would be used as such!

Rhea Bailey
1 month ago
Reply to  Olivia

Absolutely agree with the skylight suggestion!

Jen A
1 month ago

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no parent is going to want to age in place in an old garage, no matter how nice you make it. Especially on the same campus where there is the kit house and main house. Stick to storage/props/cars/workspace. 🙂

Susan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jen A

I would be grateful if I got to age in place w my sons family in a renovated garage.

Jamie
1 month ago
Reply to  Jen A

Being a person in my golden years, I can tell you I would jump at an opportunity to age in place there. When Emily and crew put their golden touch on it the parents may be fighting over who gets to live there! 😊

Jen A
1 month ago
Reply to  Jen A

Okay I stand corrected! 😊 Glad it would work for some. At our family cottage we converted a garage into bedrooms and they seem nice but are on a slab so you can’t shake them being musty and damp and feeling like you are in a garage no matter how nice the paint and decor. And spiders! Ugh. After sleeping there enough times I just know, a converted garage is not for me for longer than a week. To each their own.

JinFL
1 month ago

Why wouldn’t you put the car garages on the end so the EHD project room and storage room are right next to each other? I would assume there would be times you have to move things back and forth between those two rooms, and if weather were bad, a connecting door between those two spaces would make that an easier task than having the car garage between the two spaces, therefore, requiring you to always walk outside to move between the project room and storage room.

Lynsy
1 month ago
Reply to  JinFL

That’s a good idea! Maybe put large panel sliding doors between the two spaces for moving Things easily.

Mary Evers
1 month ago

Your kids will be driving sooner than you think. Will they want to park their cars in a garage?

LouAnn
1 month ago

I am irrationally interested in this garage project since I don’t even have a garage myself. I really like that you are trying to use/reuse these old structures. Some people covet a pool, some people covet a giant house, I covet a big multi-use garage. Lol.

Christa
1 month ago

I love the look of these! Carriage doors will look adorable. I look forward to seeing how it turns out, you always do a remarkable job. I’m wondering, since it doesn’t need to be livable space and budget is tight, maybe just do the floors and the exterior siding and leave the interiors raw wood (power wash them in the summer). I would keep that look of the interior raw wood walls and ceilings. They’re cool! When I designed a big art class space in a warehouse, I put in a big standing-height work table that has a shelf about 10″ off the floor, with receptacles installed in it (run wiring in the floor or just extension cords). I used a ceiling fan for cooling and space heaters on the low shelf for heat as needed. I think raw spaces sometimes actually make people more creative. If/when you decide to make the space livable, you can always add drywall and insulation as a phase 2. As long as the roof and walls are weatherproof on the outside, and you have a good slab, you can get by with a raw barn space for a few years. You may want to… Read more »

Jen A
1 month ago
Reply to  Christa

This is very wise! I love the idea to do this project in phases, with simply shoring up the roof, walls, and slab to start. Move the props over there for storage, and then sink the money into the Victorian which will be a much nicer space for styling content, working with the team, etc. It puts the resources into the place where it is most needed. Otherwise it would be so easy to let scope creep take over and make the garage into a much fancier space than will be needed once the Victorian is done.

Ashley
1 month ago
Reply to  Christa

Well, she did say it needs to have drywall for climate control for safe storage of props. That said, you wouldn’t have to do the *whole* space. You could at least leave the garage unfinished if it’s on the end.

Katie
1 month ago

How far would you have to move the building if it wasn’t grandfathered in? I’m just curious because here it’s only 20 feet from the property line, and while I’m all for historic spaces, this one isn’t in great shape, and that seems like a of of extra expense for (possibly) an 18-20 foot difference. Plus if you build it a bit farther from the property line you could do windows, and without them is this really going to end up being anything more than (expensive) storage?

monica
1 month ago
Reply to  Katie

Agree with moving the garage – perhaps have an actual garage for cars closer/more convenient to the house so it would get used!

Julie S
1 month ago

I think this is the biggest wreck I’ve seen you personally tackle and my curiosity is piqued. I want to see you come up with something useful-and-cool-enough without spending the scads of money that the fantasy changes would take!

Juni
1 month ago

Who is Bailey?

Bryn
1 month ago

Another Fix It Friday chance for outdoor spaces on Instagram:

IMG_6543
Bryn
1 month ago
Reply to  Bryn

Here’s the second slide:

IMG_6544
Elma
1 month ago

I’m not sure if you have it elsewhere, but it would be a good idea to add EV charging in the garage! I’m hoping to add it in our garage and I wish I had done it during a previous project and already had the electrician there. There’s probably rebates available in OR too?

AC
1 month ago

I think it would be very useful to include a bathroom and small kitchen space. There’s a huge convenience to having a bathroom here for employees, crew, and any workers coming and going. Also having a decent size kitchen sink to wash hands/items when handling products/building sets would be really useful. A small one-wall kitchen with space to add a moveable island if you decide to use the kitchen for shooting content.

Kate
1 month ago
Reply to  AC

What have I missed with this EHD business?
Does EHD design spaces for clients? I have only seen all of EH homes renovations here or a couple of the EHD “staff” homes. Is there a design business here which requires a “studio?” If the design business is obvious to all except me, I apologize.

Amber
1 month ago
Reply to  Kate

Emily got out of the private client business a while back. You can probably find a post about that in the archives somewhere. I think she’s referring to partnerships like the one with Rugs USA, where she designed product.

Alexandra
1 month ago
Reply to  Kate

I think the “business” refers to product collaborations like the recent rug collaboration and the opportunity to style out blank space almost like what you’d see in a furniture catalog. Would also give Emily more room for quarterly team meetings where you’d want everyone in the same space to strategize quarterly content calendars, major partnerships, etc.
Second the kitchenette/bathroom — will function so much better as a workspace, especially if you were to ever rent to a third party vendor. As a producer, I would be miffed if I rented a studio space without facilities for my team to use (and I’d feel uncomfortable with them traipsing through your house to potty!).

DeniseGK
1 month ago

I know the size, shape, and condition of the garage is adding so much extra consideration but I’m just really excited for this. It’s a totally different context, but these remind me so much of the chill out room you did at a music festival with…Snoop Dogg I think? That was so cool and flexible in terms of use. I really hope to see some out-of-the-box surprises since this is not living space where you need to rein in whims and experiments. 🙂

Beth
1 month ago

Curious – if it’s going to cost more to rehab these spaces than rebuild – do you need them rebuilt? Would save a lot of money to remove and not rebuild, and focus on other spaces or just rebuild what you actually need?
Save any saveable wood and use it elsewhere on the property!

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Beth

Maybe the point IS to NOT rebuild?

Beth
1 month ago

Also – if the kit house is close and doesn’t have plumbing and you’re rebuilding here, could you put in bathroom/etc close enough that the teens could run over and save having to do so much in the kit house?

Kim
1 month ago

I’m totally envisioning this space becoming a home-based flea and antique shop (Emi-Flea, anyone?!) in your older years. You collect so many cool treasures and this place could store ALL OF THEM! But love the current plan you have for it as well. Flexibility is key.

Stephanie
1 month ago

Whoever took the photos did an amazing job. They look so artistic! The one with the tires is so cool.
I totally understand that the garages are in rough shape and need to be remodeled so that they’re, you know, safe and all, but can we all just take a minute to appreciate the beautiful old wood and construction? It really does feel like you’re stepping into a different era looking at these photos. They’ll of course be much more functional when you’re all done, but the old house preservationist in me feels a little gutted at the idea of drywall going up in here instead. Anyways, good luck with the process, Emily. I’ll know you’ll revamp with as much respect to the history of the place as possible. Looking forward to following along!

kiki
1 month ago

WOW! this is going to be amazing to see transformed! Have you thought about putting the bigger prop storage and the studio project room adjacent to each other? I could see it getting really annoying to have to walk all the way through the car part of the garage? And if you’re going to use the studio space for shooting, it would make sense that some photo equipment / props / backgrounds / etc would end up living in the storage area? Maybe it’s just me being lazy and wanting to avoid schlepping stuff, but does it makes sense to pair like with like?

TNT
1 month ago

10/10 advise garage doors with windows if possible. It makes SUCH a huge difference and the increased cost is worth it! Plus it solves some of the other window issues.

Paula
1 month ago

I love that wonky old work bench. It reminded me of my dad’s homemade workbench in our garage when I was a kid. And the nails stored in Skippy peanut butter jars with their lids nailed to the underside of a board shelf over the workbench. But, yeah, that sheep barn is kinda nightmare fuel!

Patricia
1 month ago

Try to not make it cute. Stick to the basics, dry roof with electricity. Then tiptoe away. Just going to whisper “pirate flags that wound up costing $373”.

Tracy
1 month ago

Termites, wood rot, foundation problems and the amount of work and money required to bring the garage up to standards would be an unbelievable challenge and expense. I would definitely hire several experts to determine if the expense to salvage this would be worth it.

Jennipher
1 month ago

These buildings don’t appear to have any historical significance, nor are they particularly attractive. Given that you also don’t really have a firm plan for (or need?) for the space, why not demo and rebuild what you need? Yes, you would need to re-site them to meet code, but you seem to have plenty of space on the farm and I’m sure your neighbors would appreciate having a little more breathing room on the property line too. I also think it makes sense to at least run the lines for utilities you will want in the kit house/victorian while things are torn up.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Jennipher

Carriage house? That’s pretty significant.

Elizabeth
1 month ago

Emily!! I just want to add onto your idea of “retreats”…with your large following, you would crush this and be very successful.

Turn one of those garage spaces into bunk bed (camp style) with enough bunks for 15-20,women? 2 bathrooms! Your retreats are on your property, and we get to tour Portland, have a catered dinner in your garden, have a small “make it yourself” project to take home, have a little class on design etc….so maybe a 2 day retreat.

I would 1,000% come to that!! (Pennsylvania girl here)

Patti
1 month ago

I’m so jealous of all those outbuildings! I would be destitute fixing them all. Those project room ceilings are so gorgeous. What a heartbreak to lose then!

Rita
1 month ago

Totally off topic, Rusty you still out there?? Haven’t noticed coments from you for a while.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago

Sooo many possibilities.
Sooooo much work!
Keen to see what evolves here.
BTW: It’s not “DONS on me”. It’s DAWNS on me, as in sunrise; epiphany; enlightened thought. 🌄 xx

Nicolette
1 month ago

Definitely run plumbing out here. Even if you don’t do anything with it yet. 10 years down the road you don’t want to be kicking yourself for not doing it when everything was torn up.