Like the children's song about the old lady who swallowed a fly, incorporating an outdoor living area into the garage structure of a remodeled 1909 downtown Orlando bungalow was a progressive process … though this story has a happy ending.

It started with plans for a new two-car detached garage, a modern harkening to a period carriage house designed to complement the home's historic features. Its placement on the back corner of the lot would provide a straight shot down a strip driveway along one side of the house.

Then, to take advantage of a local zoning ordinance allowing a secondary living unit on the parcel, the garage grew up to accommodate an efficiency apartment above the carports. The resulting tall box, however, looked unbalanced — being so far to one side of the parcel — not to mention a bit plain. So the design/build team extended its footprint and roofline to the other side setback by creating a 360-square-foot outdoor room.

EVOLVING DESIGN Despite increasing demand for outdoor living spaces in the Orlando market, builder Stephen Gidus, a partner in PSG Construction, was unsure if the lot would accommodate such an amenity after he doubled the length of the original house and added the garage. “The outdoor space evolved out of the [design] process,” he says. “It wasn't part of our initial thinking, but it fell into place and fits in well with the master plan.”

A brick-paved motor court bridges the house and garage structure and extends  the outdoor living space. A fountain and pond feature add sensory interest, fronting  a wall that shields the space from neighbors as well as blocking  the view of a backup generator serving the house. The comfortable furnishings  of the outdoor living area contrast with the more formal, traditional interior  design of the main house. “We wanted to make it very inviting  and cozy,” says Jessica Iaconis, a designer with Robb & Stucky Interiors. The  outdoor-rated furniture is designed and built to withstand the  elements. “This is a place you can enjoy year-round,” Iaconis  says.
James F. Wilson A brick-paved motor court bridges the house and garage structure and extends the outdoor living space. A fountain and pond feature add sensory interest, fronting a wall that shields the space from neighbors as well as blocking the view of a backup generator serving the house. The comfortable furnishings of the outdoor living area contrast with the more formal, traditional interior design of the main house. “We wanted to make it very inviting and cozy,” says Jessica Iaconis, a designer with Robb & Stucky Interiors. The outdoor-rated furniture is designed and built to withstand the elements. “This is a place you can enjoy year-round,” Iaconis says.

The area is decidedly outdoor in its form and finishes. Open on three sides to capture cooling breezes, the space features a mortared flagstone floor, a brick fireplace and full-height chimney, and the same siding, trim, and light fixtures on its “interior walls” that adorn the exteriors of the house and garage.

The interior designer, meanwhile, specified wood-look plastic furnishings and outdoor-rated upholstery and fabrics to withstand the elements; reinforce the cozy, natural environment; and reduce maintenance chores.

The area also benefits from an open-air brick-paved motor court connecting the house and garage. Created to provide drivers with ample turnaround space, the motor court extends the footage of the outdoor living area as an entertaining venue. “It allows the owners to roll out the barbeque grill [which is tucked smartly in a closet under the stairs to the apartment above the garage] to cook and gather in the open air,” says Karen Kassik, the project designer at Lucia, Kassik & Monday in nearby Winter Park, Fla.

The design/build team opted not to include a permanent outdoor kitchen within the living area, in part because of space constraints but more so due to maintenance issues. “In this environment, you have a lot of moisture, which fosters mold and captures [seasonal] pollen dust,” Kassick says. The surfaces of an outdoor kitchen, she says, would constantly be subject to those elements. “The owners would have to clean it every day.” The rollout grill not only lessens that chore, but also allows cooking smoke and odors to vent into the open air of the motor court instead of getting trapped under the ceiling of the outdoor living space.