Open Sesame

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A guest suite tucks neatly into an under-garage crawlspace.

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Project Info

Architect/Contractor: Stephen Shoup, Building Lab, Oakland, Calif.


  • Create a flexible guest suite from the crawlspace under a garage
  • Retain privacy for both the homeowners and visitors
  • Extend the modern style of the existing house to this new space


To create the same open feeling as the main house, designer and contractor Stephen Shoup removed the center post in the crawlspace and flush-framed the central beam to support the garage above. The new floor is even with the existing deck, which creates a 96-inch ceiling height in the guest suite. A floor-to-ceiling picture window floods the space with natural light, but it faces the wooded area, which maintains privacy. To allow light to flow into the shower, Shoup used translucent laminated glass in the fixed window — adjacent to the entry door — that makes up the outside wall of the shower.

A compact kitchenette includes a small sink, cooktop, and an undercounter refrigerator. A sliding door hides the section when the kitchen it is not in use. Another hidden element is the fold-down bed, which is on the same wall as the kitchenette. Matching wall-hung cabinets and floating shelves provide storage in the living room.

Judges’ comments

The judges said the designer made some “shrewd” decisions that maximized the limited crawlspace and made it look “effortless.” “It’s a tiny jewel box of craftsmanship that has all the essentials of living, sleeping, eating, and bathing contained in less than 500 square feet,” said one judge.

Products Used

Hardware: Omnia, Hager

Hidden bed hardware: Hafele

Kitchen cabinets: custom

Kitchen plumbing fixtures: KWC

Range: Fagor

Refrigerator: U-Line