Decorating & Design

May 17, 2022

See How An Underused Backyard Was Transformed Into A Relaxing Oasis

Designers have been hearing a common lament over the past two years: we need a relaxing retreat in our own home. That was exactly what Vancouver couple Jennifer and Michael were craving for their 2,800-square- foot bungalow. Having already completed a partial addition and full basement reno, their focus turned to the backyard. They considered adding a large structure that would include a two-car garage, a workshop for their high schooler who loves to weld plastics and a space that could accommodate a workout or, for their university-age daughter, quiet study time. “But when the contractor staked out the footprint, my clients realized it would swallow up their entire backyard,” says intern architect Andrea McLean, who was hired to lead the project.

Since the couple parked on the street in front of the house, Andrea proposed two accessory buildings instead of a large garage: one structure could serve as the workshop for now and be converted back to a single-car garage in the future (a must for zoning and resale), and a separate cabana could act as the mini gym–yoga studio, and also serve as petite guest quarters in a pinch. “Their work is intense,” says Andrea. “They wanted to decompress in nature and have a place to work out, but they didn’t want to feel like they were in a fishbowl.”

Both buildings have expansive glazing, polished concrete floors and flat roofs dotted with skylights (learn more about them here), but that’s where the similarities end. The workshop is shingled, like the main house, while the cabana (pictured) has a stucco finish with a large overhang so Michael can read outside — even when it’s raining. Inside the cabana, millwork conceals a wall bed, and there’s a TV and two-piece washroom for guests.

Keep scrolling to see this spectacular backyard makeover!

Author: Wendy Jacob

Ema Peter


House & Home May 2022


Andrea McLean