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The guesthouse is a most welcome space

A college graduate seeking refuge in a tough economy. • An older parent who needs help getting around. • A single mom who wants room for an au pair. • No matter what the situation, more families today are considering home additions. • Since the end of World War II, American home lifestyles have tended to revolve around the nuclear family: parents and children living together in a single-family home. • Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins usually live in separate houses, often faraway. Guests who come to visit either use one of the kids' bedrooms, sleep on a pullout sofa or stay in a motel. • The standard houses built for this nuclear family have three bedrooms, 1 ½ to two baths and an attached garage with a yard. There is plenty of room, but not enough to comfortably accommodate friends or family who come for extended stays, whether by choice or by reason of a stressed economy. • The guesthouse is an architectural solution that can help families adapt to changing lifestyles. Though the concept has had many names — mother-in-law apartment, maid's quarters, carriage house — the basics are the same: bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette (or sometimes a full kitchen). The guesthouse can be attached to the main house or built next to or over an existing garage. • Here are some examples of dilemmas Tampa Bay homeowners have faced and how they added guest quarters as a solution.

Timothy Rhode is an architect in St. Petersburg. He can be reached at (727) 823-1566 or through his Web site,

Live-in au pair | Garage apartment

The woman who owns this property wanted to create space for an au pair (). A single parent raising twins, she had hired someone who would provide child care help in exchange for room and board and a small salary. She had no bedroom for the au pair to use. Her solution? Add space above an existing two-car garage (). This was done by installing columns within the existing garage walls to hold up new beams and framing that would support the second floor ().

Artist with adult kids | Studio, apartment

This project was done for a single woman who is an artist and teacher and whose children are grown and living out of town. She wanted to provide a nice space where her children would feel comfortable. She also wanted room for an art studio for herself. An existing single-car garage () was torn down and a new, larger one-car garage () was built with an art studio beside it and an apartment for her children on the second floor ().

For the boys, etc. | Going vertical

A couple with two boys entering their teens wanted to provide space for their sons to hang out with friends () and a place for out-of-town guests. They also wanted more storage space in an existing two-car garage (). The solution was to raise the ceiling in the garage to provide storage above the cars (), and add columns, beams and framing to support a new second-floor apartment/hangout space ().

Frequent guests | Apartment above garage

The owners of this property wanted to provide a space separate from their house for frequent out-of-town guests. They also wanted to expand an existing one-car garage to incorporate a laundry area. They chose to tear down the garage and build a larger one-car garage with concrete block walls. An apartment () built above the garage includes a wall bed (), a small bathroom, a kitchenette () and a cantilevered window seat () overlooking their yard.

The guesthouse is a most welcome space 02/12/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 12, 2010 3:30am]
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