Budget Breakdown: A Garage Becomes a Renaissance-Inspired Studio for $102K
View Photos

Budget Breakdown: A Garage Becomes a Renaissance-Inspired Studio for $102K

Add to
By Lucy Wang
A Toronto garage is transformed into an airy four-room studio for just under $102,000.

In the backyard of a downtown Toronto home, local design practice Anya Moryoussef Architect has transformed a single-car garage into a multifunctional, light-filled workspace that cleverly belies its compact 325-square-foot size.

Site Upgrades
Exterior Finish & Roof
Windows & Doors
Trim & Millwork
Mechanical & HVAC
Cost of Construction
Project Management

Grand Total:$101,687

The exterior of the Crawford Studiolo is made of Inax porcelain mosaic tile and Brampton Brick concrete blocks.

The client—a former architect who now works from home as a screenwriter and art director—set high demands for the small space. He requested not only a workspace and a separate sitting room, but also plenty of storage for his art collection and scripts, as well as room for his golden retriever, Ollie.

Concrete pavers line the outdoor entry space. The roof is Duro-Last mechanically fastened single-ply membrane.

The view from outside into the studio. The lighting is by Artemide and the windows are by Alumicor.

To divide the garage into four rooms without creating an uncomfortably cramped experience, the architects and client found inspiration in the 15th-century studiolo at Ducal Palace, a Renaissance-era architectural triumph in Gubbio, Italy, renowned for its illusionistic wood paneling.

The view from the work room and sitting room towards the entry and the back of the house.

The 18-foot-long built-in floating desk in the workspace has integrated storage for scripts.

Shop the Look
Flyte Manhattan Levitating Bulb
One of TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2016 and winner of the LIT Award Lighting Product Design of 2017, Flyte’s iconic levitating light bulb has been the subject of conversation in homes and offices across the world.
The Citizenry Engobe Vase Set
HANDCRAFTED IN MEXICO BY MANOS OF OCCIDENTE  From artisans in Mexico City to your home, our set of two matte black vases is ready to elevate any shelf or nook.

"The studiolo Gubbio is a series of rooms inside rooms—some actual, some seeming, some achieved by trompe l’oeil," the architects explain. "The client’s studiolo was conceived as a series of interconnected wooden rooms/cabinets (a reading room, a writing room, a storage room, an entry room) erected like a stage set inside of a larger room—a concrete block shell—situated in a garden that itself was designed as room."

The cabinets in the storage room are made of unfinished Baltic birch plywood, while the ceiling comprises exposed poplar rafters and a poplar plywood roof deck.

The white-washed Baltic birch plywood coffered ceiling is fitted with Velux skylights that bathe the work room in natural light.

The rooms are scaled to comfortable proportions for a single person and united by warm timber surfaces, however each space features slight differences—including varying proportions, levels of finish, and quality of light—for visual interest.

The raised floors in the main working areas are constructed of white-painted plywood, while the entry features natural coco mat flooring.

Ollie, the client's dog, rests next to the floating desk built of painted poplar and white-washed Baltic birch plywood.

"By purposefully misaligning the partial-height walls and exaggerated beams, there’s always a sense of a ‘space beyond,’" the firm adds. "The full expression of the small space eludes the inhabitant."

Crawford Studiolo floor plan

Related Reading: The Garage That's as Fun as the Living Room 

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Anya Moryoussef Architect 

Builder/General Contractor: Modern Dwellings

Structural Engineer: Blackwell

Get the Renovations Newsletter

Get carefully curated content filled with inspiring homes from around the world, innovative new products, and the best in modern design.

See a sample