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For three years, Bryan and Jen Danger rented out their three-bedroom home in Portland, Oregon, while they lived in British Columbia and then traveled through Mexico and South America. When they came back, they realized they didn’t have enough things to even fill the home.
What's a couple to do? They allowed the renters to stay and decided to fix up the 480-square-foot detached garage to live in instead. Because the renters pay the mortgage, this allows the Dangers to live mortgage-free.
“When we first intended to move into a garage, we thought our neighbors would think we were crazy,” Bryan told Houzz TV. “But instead people love it. People seem to mistake our home for a bar or a restaurant.”
The small space is open and airy, a sleek sanctuary created with steel and reclaimed wood. The couple built everything by hand — Bryan taught himself to weld and they found a community woodshop to work at.
The industrial-style kitchen features cabinetry and drawers made from salvaged Douglas fir wood, along with a concrete countertop and stainless steel appliances. Because of the small space, the couple wanted everything to have more than one use, so the bar on the island can swing out to fix six people for dinner when their friends and family come over.
In terms of storage, they luckily had already downsized before they moved in, purging most of their belongings before they set off to travel. But for the items they do have, there is a place for everything — the stairs to the sleeping loft double as a set of cabinetry and there are custom-built closets.
“One of my favorite places is the shower,” said Jen. “It feels like you’re outdoors, which I love.” The large open space which has the Zen-like look and feel of a spa is made of concrete.
The biggest luxury of the house is the glass accordion door that spans the width of the front. It allows them to fold it open and essentially remove the wall between the inside and outside.
“Most of our living space becomes kind of our front yard as we open the doors and hang out inside as well as outside, talking to neighbors and people who are biking and walking by,” said Bryan.
The two have gotten many questions from onlookers about the house, including some who have asked for help in doing a project like them for their own small spaces. Because of the interest, the Dangers have created their own design studio called Zenbox Design, which specializes in small homes and ADUs (accessory dwelling units).
“You can do anything you want in this life, just go after it, whatever makes you happy, don’t settle,” said Jen. “It’s a beautiful little Zen sanctuary, and it’s cheap living, too!”