An Oakland Cottage

Since we delight in our clients, we naturally enjoy a good project feature every now and again. Client stories are a great way for us to educate the community on our current and recent projects. They also remind us of one of our greatest privileges: sharing in the design process with wonderful people! This month, we’ve decided to feature an Oakland resident and truly delightful creative dreamer.

As we chose to elaborate upon in our “Rarely See the Inside of your Garage?” article, change of scenery and functionality can often bring an abundance of benefits to your property and quality of life. When it’s time for a change, like it was for our client, there is often an exhausting plethora of questions, concerns, doubts, ideas, and hesitations… “Can I afford to include a bathtub?”…“Will anyone really rent it? It might not be worth the financial risk”…“How do I choose just ONE of my brilliant ideas?!” These factors either motivate or deter us from taking the first brave step towards achieving our creative goals. However, as I previously mentioned, our featured client is a creative dreamer…one who’s made the sky her limit when it comes to ideas. Since the first conversations about repurposing her small backyard garage into a livable rental cottage, she has continually given realistic attention to a modest budget without sacrificing her unique vision.

When our client contacted us at Drafting Cafe, she had the following in mind:

  • Increase in Square footage (existing=400 sq. ft.)
  • 1 Bedroom/1 Bath
  • Potential Greenhouse
  • Potential Porch

…along with several wonderfully eclectic ideas for the exterior design, including concept inspiration images of the Church of the Transfiguration (a domed Russian church, constructed entirely of wood), a Gothic tiny house, and even the ever-popular Addams Family Mansion.

Clearly, our client was encouraging us to have fun with the process! Through varied means of communication (including an in-office consultation, phone calls, and e-mails), we have been able to productively entertain a number of ideas, each offering its own unique style and character. After the proposal of multiple floor plans, elevations, and concept drawings, her vision has begun to take form, one detail at a time.

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us”

-Winston Churchill

When you’re designing a space in which to live and/or share with guests, it MATTERS how it feels to stand at the kitchen sink or to walk through the front door. What does the space DO or NOT DO for your state of mind? Is it an environment that gives energy or drains it? These are important things to keep in mind when planning and designing. At Drafting Cafe, whether it’s a new construction or a simple remodel, we give care to the seemingly mundane details because we know that every piece will play a part in shaping the experience of that space.

The main house, on the front of the our client’s property, has a view that looks out and down upon her quaint backyard structure. Therefore, the roof of the cottage has been a priority for her in regard to aesthetics. Putting extra care into the personality and visual appeal of that view has been an important focus throughout our design collaboration. A ‘green roof’ has had quite the draw for our client as it would literally bring the rooftop to life-How perfect!…or, then again…how expensive??? As many of you residential project survivors know all too well, sticking to a budget can be quite the struggle.

In the midst of the design phase, our client’s creativity and open mind have really been the best tools for success in satisfying both the budget and the dream. For instance, we decided to hold off on the greenhouse for now. There could be the option to do additional phases down the road, if finances allow. In the concept drawing above, you’ll notice a playfully pitched roofline with crawling vines of ivy. This idea was a response to the expressed enthusiasm for rustic, Gothic, and Victorian structures. Might a roof with interesting angles be an aesthetically pleasing alternative if the green roof doesn’t fit the budget? It all comes down to that creativity and open mind when resourceful options are necessary.

We’re still ironing out details, asking questions, finding solutions, and excitedly looking ahead to the final stages of the Oakland cottage. However…I think that all of us at Drafting Cafe agree that when we complete projects for amazing clients, it’s a bit sad…we miss working with them! Our featured client from the Oakland cottage absolutely fits that “amazing client” category. Her combination of kindness, creative motivation, and flexibility in the design planning has been a real joy and privilege to experience.

If this article has awakened in you the desire to start a residential conversion project of your own, we invite you to read our article, “Rarely See the Inside of Your Garage?”


Get in touch with us. We would love to help you get your project off the ground