Fooman Architects Convert an Old Garage into a Contemporary Small Home

Foomann Architects were enlisted to help bring this project to life. Titled Garage House, the project centers around the design and construction of a building placed to the rear of an existing home, separated by a communal garden.


This “shared” element of the design has arisen out of the need to create affordable inner city homes. As the price of properties in cities increases, shared housing developments and living arrangements are becoming more commonplace.



Garage House is located in Carlton North, Australia. The property is set on a 1,065.63-square-feet (99-square-meter) plot of land and the project was completed in 2016. The architects state their design takes the “best elements of communal living” and applies them in a more “grown-up” fashion.



Privacy is obviously a concern in any shared living space. Here, they introduced a small, subtle barrier between the existing home and Garage House – a low bluestone wall. If desired the occupants can place tall plants, or re-landscape the garden, in order to introduce a greater degree of privacy and separation.


From a sustainability point of view, creating the house removed the need to demolish a perfectly sound garage. Retrofitting it to transform it into a home has given it a new lease on life, which, according to the architects “could last the clients’ lifetime”. In terms of materials, they’ve made use of recycled brick and iron-bark posts, as well as durable finishes throughout.


They managed to achieve an energy rating of 6.5 stars thanks to their use of screens, blinds and internal zoning. An insulated garage door also provides plenty of natural ventilation, even if its opened only slightly. Flexibility has become increasingly important in small homes, and this one is no different.


The downstairs area can be used as a garage, studio or living space. In its current form it serves as an open plan living room, dining area and kitchen. Upstairs there are two bedrooms, a walk-through closet, and a bathroom. From the architects: “The home is an economical, robust and low impact building that brings joy to the occupants. A solution that promotes communal living and a strategy to provide affordable housing in the inner city.”


For more small houses check out Laura Ortin’s unique holiday retreat in a coastal town in Spain. Or, Grzegorz Layer’s simple and cost-effective weekend retreat in the Polish countryside. See all small houses.

Photos © Willem-Dirk Du Toit

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

1 Comment
  1. Well I got totally confused on this one. Where did the garage door come into play in the design? I saw nothing of it internally and externally where it looked like it should be from the street view picture until bingo, fooled by the mirroring effect of the windows. There was 5 minutes of my life gone poof. LOL

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