Photo from NYT

Local artist Michelle de la Vega's $32,000 remodel of an old detached garage snagged some press from The New York Times this week, which lauded her salvage-oriented conversion of an aging garage into a 250-square foot mini-home. We couldn't reach her for comment today, but wanted to call more attention to her salvage-centric remodel and revival of an otherwise-decaying space (something we here at PubliCola are hot on lately.)



According to the NYT, de la Vega's renovated garage was once an uninhabitable outbuilding that accompanied  the single-family home she'd purchased in the Top Hat area of South Seattle for $208,000. She turned herself into a contractor and renovated the works herself, complete with plenty of trips to Boeing Surplus (R.I.P.!) and Second Use and a fateful run-in with a musician contractor who's now her husband.

In a city where real estate values have stretched beyond reach for many creative and lower-income workers, it's easy to forget that people do get creative with how they choose to live and sometimes

even use real estate as a means to subsidizing a creative end, rather than an end unto itself. De la Vega, a Cornish College grad who is a visual artist and dancer, as well as welder, used her home as a rental for a time while living in the cottage.

This nerd personally knows another Cornish College grad, a jazz musician, who bought a home in South Seattle and renovated its detached garage as a rental. She now rents out both garage and house while she tours out of Brooklyn. While extensive remodels aren't for everyone, de la Vega and others who put their all into it are inspirations to anyone mulling whether they can wedge more space onto their lots courtesy of local backyard cottage legislation. Maybe a new spouse, welding lessons, and a bunch of reclaimed stuff won't fit into the picture, as was the case for de la Vega, but damn that little house is cute.