Collection by Kelly Dawson

Renovation Idea We Love: Old Horse Stable to Cute Guesthouse and Studio


This 760-square-foot stable outside Seattle was converted into an artist's studio, guest bedroom, and more.

Since Bridle Trails State Park neighbors Kirkland, Washington, the community is dotted with stables—especially as populated areas give way to more greenery. One thirty-something couple, a UX designer and the head of a non-profit, had purchased a house on a semi-rural street where a paved road gives way to gravel. They moved from Chicago to raise their two daughters in the Pacific Northwest, and although their land had stables, their only four-legged pet was their golden retriever. On the outside, the structure looked like a big garage, but inside, it was clear that plenty of horses had called it home. The couple wanted to replace the well-worn dirt floors and wood planks—which were indented with teeth marks—with a multipurpose addition. They partnered with principal Thomas Schaer, project manager Max Mahaffey, and their team at SHED Architecture & Design to meet a myriad of needs: the renovation had to include a workspace, a painter’s studio, and a comfortable quarters for visiting grandparents. “Our aesthetic imperative was fairly straightforward: avoid precious materials and rely on some strong spatial maneuvers to define the experience,” Schaer says. As it turns out, one detail that pays homage to the building’s original purpose—sliding barn doors—became paramount to the renovation’s success.

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