An old double car garage made way for a new poolside backyard studio with bathroom and storage room.
Our house was built in the 1950s and we have renovated inside, but it was time to tackle the backyard.
We decided that the double car garage, which had a leaky roof and some significant cracks in the concrete floor and daylight between some of the bricks in the walls, was beyond saving. We didn't use it to house the cars as the driveway was a little too narrow to get cars up and down every day.
The garage has primarily been used by the kids for table tennis and pool, as well as a place to store bikes, tools and a whole lot of junk. We’ve decided to install a new fibreglass pool and build a new games room/teenage retreat/granny flat/backyard studio with a similar footprint to the old garage.
We wanted a flexible space as we thought it would primarily be used for entertaining but could be an additional bedroom or granny flat if we needed it to be. We wanted part of it to be storage and it also seemed wise to include a toilet and bathroom so the studio could be self-contained accommodation. It also seemed wise to have a toilet and bathroom near the pool, especially when we only have one inside. We also thought it would be great to have an outdoor shower for beside the pool.
The first step was to sell what we could on eBay and throw out anything we hadn’t used for a while. The second step was realising that we’d get a much better result using a friend who is an architect, which was a really interesting process.
Our house was built in the mid-50s. It's a cream brick veneer. The front of the house we have kept very much in the style of the original era, while the back of the house is open-plan and much more modern.
For the backyard studio, we decided to do something that's was going to be a significant contrast. We couldn't match the original house brick's so we thought it better to go for something that is completely different. We also wanted to create a relaxing, fun space.
Here’s the first design we came up with, which we soon had to change to reduce costs… Sadly, we had to delete the special bricks which had a circular hole. The idea was to install glass behind them but the cost was too high. But other than the bricks and some other more minor alterations we end result was very close to the original design - the architects really nailed the brief.
Here's the detailed plans and how the new studio fits in with the existing house and deck, and the new pool. It was great to be able to ensure we got a good-sized store room in addition to a massive studio space and bathroom.
It's amazing how much bigger things seem once you do the demolition work. It was also a little sad knowing that we were going to lose our established garden, but exciting to be able to design something new from scratch.
Here's a shot after the new slab had been poured. The plan was to polish the concrete as we thought that would be a really hard-wearing surface suitable for a teenage games room and anything else that we throw at it in future. We'd also seen plenty of other polished concrete floors that look terrific.
This was how the floor looked after the first (wet) grind of the concrete. We were very happy with how the aggregate looked. The final (dry) polish was done towards the end of the project.
As the frame was going up we ordered all the bathroom tiles, vanity and tapwear. For the tiles we decided to splurge on the floor tiles with a beautiful large format porclean - a dark grey concrete-style - which we also decided to run up the wall that has the vanity on it as a feature. For the rest of the walls we choose a cheap white 300 x 600mm tile as a clean contrast.
Despite losing the original "holey" bricks, we were happy with how the plain white bricks looked. We thought if we didn't like them for some reason we could always paint them.
At this stage we were getting excited as the room was really taking shape with the doors and windows installed, and the roof about to go on. The plumber had also roughed in, and the electrician had cabled.
With the plastering finished, it was time for us to pick up our paintbrushes and rollers. You can see on the shot below that the fibreglass pool has also now been dropped in.
As part of the project we needed to replace the timber boards on our deck, as it would now form part of the pool fence and did not comply with pool fencing regulations. Fortunately, we were able to keep the existing metal balustrades. We just needed to paint them black so they would blend into the background.
We chose Western Red Cedar battens for the pool and deck barrier. Not cheap but we love how the timber naturally weathers and greys over time.
We also needed to do some remedial work on our back and side fences, adding height to comply with pool safety regulations while also giving us some more privacy. As we suddenly had new fencing beside the old, it was clear we were going to need to paint the fence.
At this stage the concrete floor got its final polish and was sealed. This was how it came up. We are now big coverts for polished concrete flooring. It's easy to keep clean and lovely under the feet in both summer and winter.
Our only (very minor) disappointments were some minor cracks that developed (but are probably all part of the character) and that after a while the colour has changed a little. It's gone a little browner where the sun hits it.
After painting it was time to furnish the room and get the paving done. After some deliberation - mainly over how hot the paving might be underfoot in summer - we choose a grey granite.
We were thrilled with the end result of the build and it has been the flexible space we hoped it would be. In the first few years it hosted many fun games of table tennis and pool, and a few raucous parties.
In recent years our eldest son has moved in and it will be hard to get him out! The studio gives him privacy, independence, and the coolest bachelor pad in the neighbourhood.