The Gas Station (that we live in)

We’ve been living in the gas station garage apartment for a month now, and this is the first time we’ve been able to walk through the place without leapfrogging over boxes and piles of miscellaneous clothing. Needless to say, going from 1200 square feet of living space to 400 square feet takes a little adjustment.

A Brief History of Insanity

When we bought this property two years ago the old gas station that sits on the Southwest corner was my favorite part of it. Even though it looked like this…

memorial house 014

I was more in love with the garage part of the building, but I thought this room had some potential.

In the summer of 2008, MysteryMan put on a new roof. I got up on the roof, but honestly, I prefer my tools plugged in and solidly on the ground. Along with my feet.



With a new roof and a new entry, we got to work on the inside last summer. There was a lot of framing, that incredibly awkward drywall moment, and in the home-stretch I was in my element with drywall texturing, tiling the walls, and making tile countertops.

After about a year of sawdust and drywall filled weekends, these 400 square feet are not finished.  But we live here anyway.

Our Humble Abode


memorial house 014



There’s no trim around the doors, ceiling, or floors– and we’re using patio furniture in our living space– but I’d say all in all, it’s a fairly remarkable transformation.

Our kitchenette works well enough that we haven’t starved to death yet.


The wicker milk-crates from Target give us some much needed additional storage. For all the liquor. Along with earphones, alcohol is one of the basic necessities for two people living in the same one room for a year.

We thought this area might be good for a little table, but as it turned out a rolling island was a better choice.


More milk crates. One of them is our “bread box” and the other holds miscellaneous kitchen items. We also really needed a junk drawer, so I re-purposed a wicker serving tray.

We’re also making good use of the little recycling cabinet I built a couple of years ago. Here’s the thing about the country– no trash pickup. So all of our waste is sorted into burnables, recyclables, compost, and then actual garbage. We only end up with about a half a bag of landfill-garbage every week, which is down from about two bags per week when we were city-dwellers.

The bedroom is another study in creative storage.


We jacked the bed up with risers for some under-bed storage.


And tried to make the best use of a closet taken up largely by a hot-water heater.


I devised the pants-rack because nothing irritates me more than pants sliding all over a hanger. Which is probably why I prefer to leave them heaped on the ground. It was a trial run done after midnight one night — I’ve got plans for a more polished version for the closet in the master bedroom. And maybe I’ll get around to installing closet doors before I start on that project.

The living area also needs a little work in the form of actual furnishings.


I was thinking maybe this couch from Ikea:

There could definitely be better things done with that area of the room, but it works for us for now, and that’s the important part.

All in all, not bad for garage-living.

18 Responses

  1. I can’t imagine living in such a small area all the time. Maybe, when I was younger, but not now. Everything’s looking good though.

  2. Wow, it looks amazing and organized!

    I can’t wait to finish our upstairs remodel to add 330 sq feet to our living space and then get rid of all of the crap downstairs so we can actually use the rest of the space like “normal” people.

    Your brain is going to explode with the amount of space in the new house.

  3. we have that couch. it unfolds, right? we love love love it. best small purchase, ever. have had numerous guests sleep on it with nary a complaint. and right now, husband and the pup use it to recline on while playing xbox (husband, not so much the pup. i think.).

  4. Wow – that is amazing and it looks gorgeous! We remodeled an 800 sq ft house about 10 years ago and lived there for 5 years. We did it one floor at a time, so we lived in 600 sq ft for a few years until we got to work on the bedroom upstairs. It was tight, but kind of nice. It never looked as awesome as your gas station apt though!!! Beautiful!

  5. I’ve been waiting to see this!! So happy to finally get the “big” picture. That ikea couch is super comfy when unfolded, I’ve slept on it as a guest numerous times.

  6. I love that you posted pictures about this. It will all be worth it in the end but sometimes renovators just have to live in less than ideal conditions. What an improvement of what it used to be though!

  7. I hope that’s an electric water heater – the failure mode of gas water heaters involves jets of fire about 30% of the time. Electric water heaters very rarely burn down buildings (athough it does happen – just rarely, whereas gas water heaters burn up quite regularly).

    You simply can’t hang clothes or stack boxes around a gas water heater safely. It always ends up burning down the building, sooner or later (hopefully much later).

    All those links are to examples of water heaters failing in the way gas water heaters commonly fail. I’ve seen it more times than I’d like, although so far nobody I know has died from a preventable water heater fire.

    1. Thanks for the info, it’s a cautionary tale for those of us living in small spaces. Luckily our water heater is electric. I still wouldn’t recommend packing clothes in around it, but desperate times and all that…

  8. You and your husband have done a remarkable job of transforming your living space. This is a beautiful home! I am looking for a a couple acres to raise organic crops and would love to have an existing structure to convert into my dwelling. All the best to you. I just saw your beautiful closet. GORGEOUS! Today is the first time I have visited your website. LOVE IT!!!
    Thank you for inspiring me!

  9. I’d love to know what material you used for your floor. My family and I will be converting our garage to a living space and are looking for an easy-to-clean, well-wearing floor option. Yours looks so cool!

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