Your Garage Can Become a Getaway

By converting an old backyard workshop into a chic guesthouse, a South Carolina designer is giving us hope.

Cameron Schwabenton Charleston North Carolina House Tour
Annie Schlechter

When Cameron Schwabenton bought her 1960s ranch house near Charleston, South Carolina, the property came with a structure out back that served as the previous owner’s welding workshop. “It was raw and unfinished when I got a hold of it,” says the designer, who spent six months renovating the 460-square-foot building and filling it with bright accents. Now she calls it the “Sunshine House,” a place that serves as sleeping quarters for friends and family and also a workshop of sorts (full circle!) for herself. “It’s a space to try different things,” she explains, “a chance to do something fun with color.”

Terrace

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Annie Achlechter

1. The garage-style roll- up door was replaced by a storefront window that Schwabenton bought for just $20 at a secondhand store. After restoring it with new glaze and putty around each pane, she retrofitted it into the front wall.

2. “We wanted tocreate a mini terrace,” says the designer of this seating vignette, which serves as an extension of the living space inside.

Living Room

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Annie Schlecture

3. “The living room ceiling was originally open, with rafter ties that lowered the height,” says Schwabenton. She raised and boxed them out, then painted the whole room white to bring in light.

4. Two “wow pieces” of art, including this antique Indian gilt peacock mirror, anchor the room and keep it from feeling too busy. The mirror also serves as an additional reflection of sunlight.

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5. The oldest space- shifting trick in the book? Curtains hung high above the windows to make the room feel larger than it is. The dramatic chartreuse color draws the eye up.

6. Funky midcentury furniture pieces with curvy or graphic legs seem to float many inches off the floor, creating a sense of air. Nothing feels too heavy.

Bathroom

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Annie Schlecter

7. Milk-glass pendant lights from the 1920s are gorgeous and also take up little space in a small bathroom. “There wasn’t a lot of room to mount sconces,” the designer points out.

8. “I love unique pat­terns in small spaces,” Schwabenton says of the dramatic teal and white lines that her friend Aubrey Brackett, a decorative painter, cre­ated. “It’s a fun little surprise in this bathroom.” Penny tiles don’t com­pete with the large-scale mural.

9. A framed drawing leans in the window; it adds interest while also providing some privacy from the yard.

10. Genius! A stain- less steel mi bowl serves as the sink. “I’m always looking at how to use things in more than one way,” says Schwabenton.

11. “I found the antique marble-top chest, and that was the beginning,” says the designer, who had plumbing fit inside the piece during the renovation. The over­size drawers are a much-needed source of storage in the small house.

Bedroom

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Annie Schlecter

12. Painted-​rattanscreens in the bedroom were “a good solution in a small space, because they help create height,” Schwabenton says. The woven pattern keeps them from weighing down the room.

13. “There are several different yellows,” she says. One shade is in the Pierre Frey wallpaper, another landed on the window trim, and a deeper gold plays out on the head­board. “It’s a basic white box, so I wanted to make it colorful.”

Kitchen

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Annie Schlecter

14. Three windows were added to open up the kitchen and replace the sad 1960s aluminum ones from its prior life. Since they face the backyard, no curtains are necessary—plus, the designer notes, “the sun rises on that side!” 15. You’d never know those glossy cabinets came from Ikea. “We upgraded them with unlacquered brass hardware to give them a unique look,” Schwabenton says.

16. A tiny but deliriously fun dining set (featuring highly sought-​after rattan chairs by Danny Ho Fong) is allowed because “you’re not going to have a huge sit-down dinner here,” she says.

17. Whitewashed floors keep everything bright. “The flooring throughout is plywood milled to 12- inch planks to resemble a historic wide-plank floor,” the designer says. “It’s not a typical treatment, but I wanted to do something creative, and I didn’t have a huge budget.”

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