A couple, both television writers, with three kids ranging from pre-school to college age wanted to create a retreat that was separate both physically and stylistically from their elegant Victorian home in Santa Monica, CA. They realized that the best place to do this was over their free-standing garage. It was to serve as a place for them to work and relax, as well as a place for their eldest could stay when visiting from college. They turned to interior designer Courtney Bates to transform this space into a cozy and uncomplicated retreat for their family.

“This back house is around 400 square-feet plus the reading loft,” Courtney explained. “We added a story above the existing garage with a kitchenette, full bathroom, and a lofted area for a mini library wall and reading nook.” Since the square-footage was limited, it was key that the interior architectural elements were airy and bright, while also allocating some space for storage. “We selected a light and warm oak flooring from Oasis with some knotting, and finished the exposed beams to mimic the tone of the floor,” she said. “It is a durable, well-made product that won’t break the bank.” To maximize the feeling of space, Courtney had a wallpaper mural from Eskayel installed. “Wallpaper was used to accentuate the high, peaked ceiling,” she added.

Although the retreat was small, both the clients and designer wanted to be sure to include materials that had a finesse to them. They found a Calacatta Vagli slab at Walker Zanger that was love at first sight. “It has really gorgeous tan and grey veining and was large enough to cover the kitchenette and bathroom countertops,” the designer told us. “My client surprised me with a pretty cheese board she had cut from the leftover marble. Now I have a tangible reminder of our work together that can also double as a marble sample!” The kitchen’s backsplash is from Clé’s “Eastern Earthenware” collection and is sold by the kiln load which means every batch is completely unique. Another thought out detail was the color for the cabinets: “The deep green color of the cabinets is a shade I blended,” she said. “I created a ridiculous number of samples with my cabinet maker before landing on this reflective navy green.”

“This retreat offered the opportunity to use furniture and design elements that could never work in the main house,” Courtney explained. “I wanted the space to feel calming but still fun – the perfect place for creativity to happen. I leaned into warm and natural textures like leather and rattan, and greens to go with the open view.” Overall, the project took six months from start to finish and was completed just before the Coronavirus lockdown hit California. “Now my clients are working from home, it has become an essential space where they spend more time than ever imagined,” she smiled.