Before & After: From Neglected Garage to an Enviably Gorgeous Airbnb

published Mar 16, 2018
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This is one of the most blank-slate, bare-bones Befores we’ve ever seen; it’s hard to imagine this garage becoming anything but a wide-open, loft-like space. But thanks to one interior designer with a vision—and a clear financial goal—this humble garage is about to be transformed into a hot vacation spot.

Before we dive into the interior, let’s check out the exterior and get a feel for the project as a whole, which was done by Kimberlee Gorsline of Kimberlee Marie Interior Design:

When my husband and I bought our home in North Seattle, it came with a detached two-car garage in the backyard. I knew almost instantly that I wanted to convert it into an Airbnb. Not only would it be a great way for our family to offset the rising cost of living in Seattle, it would also be the first project I would undertake for myself in my professional career and I was thrilled!

That seems like a great idea, but surely that tiny garage is only big enough for a twin bed and half-bath, right?

(Image credit: John Granen)

Argh, look how darling it is now! The former garage now looks like it belongs in the mountains of Scandinavia, and that peek inside reveals that it’s roomier than it first appeared. Here’s what Kimberlee was going for:

It was unlike any projects I’ve done before, because, instead of knowing up front who my client was, I had to figure out who I thought my most likely clients would be. I ultimately decided it would likely be the millennial crowd looking for a boutique hotel-like experience without the boutique price tag.

(Image credit: John Granen)

Now that we’re inside, it’s astounding how roomy the space feels. A two-car garage does not seem like it would be large enough for a bedroom and dining room, as well as all that luxuriously empty floor space. We can credit all of this to Kimberlee’s clever planning:

From a design standpoint, I wanted it to feel light and airy, yet have some really big statements throughout. I wanted people to see it and say “Wow, I’d love to stay there” even if it wouldn’t be the design choices they’d make for their own home. To achieve this I maximized the floor plan and made the most of every square inch, and selected really unique and fun finishes that really create that wow factor.

(Image credit: John Granen)

Part of what makes this all feel so airy is the palette Kimberlee put together: dreamy blues, pale grays, white, and mostly pale wood, with gold details reflecting light.

(Image credit: John Granen)

This is a fantastic use of space, with just enough room on either side of the bed for guests to get in and out (provided they don’t have any mobility issues, of course). The shiplap wall adds texture to the predominantly white room, the petite nightstands provide storage for most nightly essentials, and the bedside lamps are so helpful—I hate having to get up out of bed to turn off the lights, especially in an unfamiliar space.

(Image credit: John Granen)

The art over the bed coordinates so well with these and other touches of peach and pink throughout the bedroom and dining room.

(Image credit: John Granen)

This kitchen is a jewel! It’s so gorgeous, its high-impact style makes the most of that small space, the mountain range-like tile is fascinating, and that’s the prettiest green ever. I admire how the stainless steel appliances don’t class with the gold hardware, thanks in part to the shimmery silver-and-gold look of the tile.

In the kitchenette, I decide to go bold with the cabinet color and choose Dard Hunter Green by Sherwin Williams. The backsplash is white marble with a brass inlay from Tile Bar in a chevron/Art Deco pattern.

White marble and brass is a luxe combination! One advantage of a small kitchen is that, if you have the funds, it allows you to splash out on super high-end materials.

(Image credit: John Granen)

The bathrooms coordinates beautifully with the kitchen without matching: you have the richly colored cabinets, the gold accessories, and the triangular tiles.

In the bathroom, I brought pattern in through the floor and did the Tulum gray and white cement tile from The Cement Tile Shop and a statement navy penny round in the shower. The vanity also packs a punch in Sherwin Williams Naval. The mirror is the classic Stockholm from IKEA. Decorative lighting in the bathroom (and bedroom) is from Shades of light.

(Image credit: John Granen)

The way the navy penny tile echoes the vanity is, again, so nice, and it’s cool how it pops against the subway tiles (though my usual grumble—why is the storage nook so small—definitely applies, but in an Airbnb, it’s not such a big deal). And it appears that the hardware shown here is more of a rosy, darker gold than we usually see—is that right?

Overall, this former garage is now filled with lovely, fascinating materials, furnishings, and details, and Kimberlee’s new venture is sure to be a smash hit!

It was such a fun project to do and is so fun to have people stay and gush over the design details. It has me itching to do it again!

Thank you, Kimberlee Marie!