The Taj (or "Garage Mahal," as we affectionately call it) has become our getaway. Any challenging work tasks—like writing, brainstorming, and quiet contemplation—occur away from our main Solterre office, just two blocks away, in the Taj. We have put a sign on the wall—WELIKEIT—that I had purchased at a local auction. I always planned to research its meaning; it’s likely a Mikma’q (a local First Nations’ group) name. Though on one quiet evening it came to me: “We Like It.” And we do.

For nearly a century, this simple garage served its intended purpose as a basic storage space, but now it's just a great place to work or relax. With its sustainable materials and small footprint, this renovation is also a prime example of Solterre Design's care for local sites and our larger environment.

 Locally milled and salvaged materials and a focus on preservation and simplicity make this small remodel a big success

When we purchased our circa-1896 farmhouse in 1994, one of the main attractions was the old garage. We quickly replaced its failing asphalt roof with new cedar shingles in 1995, but as much as we liked it, the garage remained a somewhat forgotten backdrop to our yard until we were forced to address structural issues in early 2008.

The initial approach was to “save” the garage. Once we had emptied it out in preparation for the renovation, we realized that it was just a place to store nothing of value. At the same time, we were outgrowing our architecture firm’s office around the corner, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to solve more than one problem.

Design Approach: Sweat the Details, But Keep It Simple

At Solterre Design, we enjoy getting into the details of a project but are generally minimalists. The original simplicity of the small garage and our conservation-minded design philosophy guided many of our decisions. With salvaged doors and windows, locally milled pine boards, and an acid-etched concrete slab, most of the new interior finishes are merely refinements of the original interior surfaces. The only modern details that stand out are the smooth plywood ceiling panels and the rich color of the dyed floor.