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Kenny’s Portland Garage to Studio Conversion: Tiny House Living in a Garage

A few weeks ago I was exchanging e-mails with Kenny in Portland who wants to turn his garage into a studio. It’s just a one-car garage so I’d really consider this to be tiny house living (in a garage). But seriously. With the renovation done right, it can be turned into a really nice studio slash tiny guest house.

I think it already looks good on the outside. Kenny recorded a video walkthrough of the garage as he talks about his ideas for the project. He wants to hear your feedback, suggestions, and ideas.

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Kenny’s Garage to Tiny House Conversion Project

Garage conversion to studio tiny house living

VIDEO TOUR: Kenny’s Portland Garage to Studio Conversion: Tiny House Living in a Garage

Video length: 10:00

Watch his video and share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks! Kenny would really appreciate your feedback.

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 13 comments… add one }
  • March 1, 2012, 10:35 am

    I think it’s a great idea, a good layout and you seem to have a solid plan! If I was in Portland I would love to help, but I’m not… yet! I hope we can see updates!

    • Kenny
      March 1, 2012, 5:52 pm

      Thanks for the props on the plans. I think I have a pretty solid idea. I might make that back door a closet storage with access from outside and inside, with the bath next to it. I figure I bike could be hung up and that part of it could be a pantry, maybe access from 3 sides… one from the bath, one the living area near the kitchen, and one outdoors.

      I hope to find a community team or someone who enjoys building, retired or wants to help make something neat like this. I can made food and help out, pick up materials, and arrange all the inspections by the city. Electrical and plumbing looks very easily accessed.

    • March 1, 2012, 7:04 pm

      Thanks Macy!

  • Karen
    March 8, 2012, 10:18 am

    Kenny, I also live in your area and am considering the same thing in my tiny garage. I wonder why you need the firewall? Are you within 5 feet of the house? Your plans are very similar to mine except I won’t put in front doors but will have a skylight installed. I already have electricity (but needs additions) and water, but plumbing to hook up new bath and kitchen sink runs around $4K. (And that’s the best estimate I’ve received). Would love to talk more about our projects.

    • Kenny
      April 17, 2012, 11:48 am

      Hi Karen, I had a plumbing estimate from a local plumber of about $100-1500. However, I offered to dig the big trench to the sewer line, or about all of the digging needed pretty much. That will save a great deal on labor and is something a friend and I could cover in a day. Please let me know how things are going with your project. I am still seeking info and assistance.

      • Kenny
        April 17, 2012, 11:49 am

        that was 1000-1500 🙂

  • Glendon
    March 8, 2012, 10:28 am

    I really hope you do a follow-up!! Thanks

  • March 8, 2012, 11:25 am

    If you go with the shower you could put a closet or cabinets or even put your convection oven in the extra space, which might be nice. Watch code on the bathroom: in my area you have to have either a bathroom vent fan or a window in the bathroom. I’m not sure why. Also, check code on the style of windows; you may need an egress window, especially since your back door is as close to the house as it is. If you’re renting it you may want different amenities than if you’re living there, due to the potential for later repairs.

  • Stephany
    March 9, 2012, 12:18 am

    ok I have a few layouts in my mind. As you live in Protland and it can get cold there I would not go with big windows. It will coast so much more to heat. Instead I would take the garage door out Frame up a window and a door. The door would be off to the left hand site. If you come in you would find a bench and a few hooks with a shelf on top to hang up coats hats and what ever. Under the bench are drawers or what ever where you would store your shoes.
    It you are sitting on the bench the door will be on your right and on the left you have a closet. Size depends of how much space you have.
    At the end of the closet you have a shelf with a TV swivel on it. On the other site of the closet you have the bed and acsess to the closet.
    Straight across from the bed is the bath.
    Oh I would not put a conventinal door in it I would be going with a sliding door for the bathroom. The kitchen would be a counter top a bit wider than normal where I would put 2 high chairs so eating happens right there. Kitchen is the wall for the bathroom. I like to have all my waterlines inside the house instead on the outside walls…did I mention I live in Canada and they freeze if the cupboards are closed? Anyhow just something I like. The rest of it is now left over for living.

    Bathroom ….see how much a sitting bath tub will be.
    As you are looking to make it as cheap as you can but still good I would take the backdoor out and use it for the front door. Put a nice opening window in for the bath room. I think that might be better.
    I have drawn the plan but I do not know if you can see what I mean. Looking forward to seeing you progress!

  • Karen
    March 9, 2012, 12:38 pm

    I found a FREE pocket door frame/kit from Craigslist for my garage bathroom plan. Check out there for sure, and ReStore and ReBuild here in Portland for more great inexpensive materials.

  • L.J. Ayres
    September 7, 2012, 6:45 pm

    Hi, Kenny,
    Just seeing this on 9/7/12–& since you haven’t posted updates since April, you may not be active here. Also, you may be so far into the project that my suggestions are moot. But, here’s my 2-cents. I also live in Ptld. (Mt. Tabor) & trying to do something similar with either my garage or basement; or maybe even a new structure in backyard.
    I strongly recommend you put in a loft that can be used for sleeping or storage, at choice of occupant. You need to build in as much flexibility as possible with small sq. footage, so occupants can mix and match for their needs. You can make it just halfway across the room, or up to 2/3 of ceiling area. If you have a non-fixed ladder, no code issues to deal with on staircases. Have you checked out the micro structures built in Ptld. by Orange Splot LLC? Google ‘Ruth’s Cottages Portland’ & look at all the smart use of space they employed, just for example.

    Also, I’ve thought a lot about shower vs. tub & I strongly vote for a small tub with shower. Tubs don’t truly take up more space than a roomy shower, and can serve multiple purposes (cramped showers are miserable over the long-term). Tubs can bathe children; can be used for other messy projects–even hand-laundering; a bath is more therapeutic & sometimes really desirable..the reasons for a tub are numerous. I rent out the 2nd fl. of my house & live on the 1st fl. I’ve been without a tub for over 3 years now, with a small shower, and I hate it. Someone thought that was a good remodeling decision for a small main floor bathroom–it wasn’t. Regarding accessibility for the disabled: you can’t serve everyone in this type of low budget, small S.F. space. Just plan for the ADA-compliant grab-bars, keep the tub walls short, and call it good. You want your space to serve a variety of people–especially when building on a budget. Target the widest range of potential occupants, build in flexible uses, and you’ll always have an easy-to-rent space.

    BTW: you could also add a storage closet to outside of one garage wall, if needing to maximize the interior footprint. City says sheds can be built right up to property line, so explore any restrictions on attached vs. free-standing storage sheds, to try to get around the fire-wall requirement on the shed. That’s my plan.
    I hope you’ll post some updates.

  • Lori Glad
    December 1, 2019, 11:25 pm

    I have just finished converting a shed to living space in CA. I used the insulated panels inside and outside. cause it faces the sun all day long. Works great. I scoured craiglsist and FB market place for months. Scored a murphy bed, cork flooring, all brand new dbl pane 6′ slider, 2 single lite doors plus some windows. Even enough fire rated drywall to do all the walls! I recommend the envi heater – work great and great value. I would have a shower only. Smaller footprint and leaves more room to move around. Closed and open storage is important.

  • Julie
    January 6, 2020, 1:07 pm


    I am hoping to do something similar with my boyfriend’s home & attached single garage (but his has an upstairs with full stairs so that is cool) as a investment and apartment for my adult autistic daughter to rent eventually. I like your ideas and it’s nice to see a video. Please update if you’ve finished the project and I hope it went well! 🙂

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