A Totally Transformed Former Auto Garage Turned Hip Home

A Totally Transformed Former Auto Garage Turned Hip Home

Jessica Isaac
Sep 6, 2017

Name: Darien Zannis and Matt Johnson, and Rescue's (Mick) Jagger, Wile E. (Coyote), and Stevie (Nicks).
Location: Culver City, California
Size: 3,000 square feet
Years Lived In: 2 years, renting

While parking is a luxury for most Californians, Culver City residents Darien and Matt have no trouble finding a spot very, very close to home. Yes, the couple (and their three adorable rescue pups) cohabitate with their cars…many cars. Not only is this convenient in a city where unoccupied curb space is a luxury, it facilitates Matt's passion for restoring cars while providing some seriously chic one-of-a-kind decor.

Take a video tour of Darien & Matt's home:

It's probably not surprising to hear this home was being used as an autoshop when Darien and Matt first came across it two years ago. What started as a pipe dream soon became a viable option for a living space that eliminated the need for additional storage to house Matt's car collection. They pulled the trigger on taking over the lease and have since transformed the space into a gorgeous multipurpose home that is perfect for entertaining, which they love to do.

CougardatingService Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic, collected, comfortable

Inspiration: Classic cars, the California coast, the greenery of Minnesota, and the casual vibes of both states.

Favorite Element: The huge open space and the layered textures we've added to make it cozy and inviting (we hope).

Biggest Challenge: Storage. We have a lot of space but it's all open space. Matt had to build a closet in the bedroom and add the Ikea wardrobes so we had a place to at least hang our clothes. In the kitchen we added a hutch for pantry storage. The other challenge is keeping the dust at bay. With one open space and industrial garage doors that are always open, things tend to get pretty dusty. We wipe down the surfaces and vacuum pretty pretty often.

What Friends Say: "Can we come over?," "Can I borrow a car?" and "where did you get that?"

Biggest Embarrassment: The red and black stairs to the loft. We had intentions of painting them all black, but then we sat down on the couch and haven't gotten up.

Proudest DIY: The kitchen for sure. It was just an office kitchen before so there was a small fridge and no other appliances. It was also "1980s auto themed" with white and black tile floors and red and black cabinets. We painted the cabinets all black, removed some of the uppers for floating wood shelves, and changed all the hardware. We also had to install all the appliances, which we found on Craigslist.

We relocated one of the cabinets to the other side of the stove to make room for a dishwasher. There was a single pendant beforehand, so Matt also installed the recessed lighting. We threw down a big Persian rug to cover up some of the checkerboard tile. We did all of this on a serious budget. We didn't want to invest a lot in something we didn't own, but also had to make it functional and somewhat aesthetically pleasing for us to live in. It's not the kitchen we would have designed from scratch but we are pretty proud of what we've done.

Biggest Indulgence: We aren't indulgent. Ha, that was a joke. The cars obviously. We're just a couple kids living with cars. And our dining room table. It's ten feet long and great for dinner parties, which we host pretty frequently. We found it at the RH Outlet for a fraction of what it retails for at the full line store. We live for a bargain.

Best Advice: The things that make a home yours are the meaningful things collected over time. Decorating our home has been like a treasure hunt. We have a lot of things that were my great grandmother's, or that we found at flea markets and on Craigslist. We love these pieces for the story they tell. When making a large purchase consider these as investments but make sure it will evolve with you. Also do your research to see if you kind find something similar for less. We love Wayfair, Overstock, Craigslist and the RH outlet for this reason. Finally, don't feel limited by the intended purpose of a space. An open mind and some elbow grease (literally) is what turned this commercial garage into a home.

Dream Sources: Amber Interiors, Rose Bowl Flea Market, antique stores in Ocean Beach — San Diego, CA


"Swiss Coffee" — Benjamin Moore

Sectional Sofa — Room and Board (hand-me down, style no longer available)
Kasbah Wool Rug — West Elm
Box Frame Coffee Table — West Elm
Leather Chair with Ottoman — Vintage find
Printmaker's Media Console — Restoration Hardware
Mudcloth Pillows — Etsy and Rose Bowl Flea Market
Mosslanda Picture Ledge — IKEA
Renate Wood and Metal Book Shelf — Overstock
Turquoise Hand Painted Pottery Lamp — Vintage find
Sputnik Chandelier — Wayfair

Reclaimed Russian Oak Parsons Dining Table — Restoration Hardware (we scored ours from the RH outlet)
Black Hot Mesh Dining Chairs — Blu Dot
Blue Chairs and End Chairs — Vintage find
Kilim Rug— Vintage find
Hektar Pendant Lights — IKEA

English Roll Arm Sofa — Restoration Hardware (we found ours on Craigslist)
Wood and Metal Coffee Table — Restoration Hardware (style no longer available, we found ours on Craigslist)
Manhattan Leather Club Chair— Pottery Barn (we found ours on Craigslist)
Foxed Mirror Bar Cart — West Elm
Mudcloth Pillows — Etsy and Rose Bowl Flea Market
Kallax Shelf Unit — IKEA (we found ours on Craigslist)
Vintage Persian Rug — eBay
Eyewear Collection— Oliver Peoples

Vintage Persian Rug — eBay
Stenstorp Kitchen Island — IKEA
French panel Sideboard & Hutch — Restoration Hardware ( we scored ours from the RH Outlet)

French Academie Panel Bed — Restoration Hardware
Hemnes Dresser — IKEA (we found ours on Craigslist)
Marble Top Dresser — Craigslist
Turned pedestal Bistro Table — West Elm
Pax Wardrobes — IKEA (we found ours on Craigslist)
Blue Chambray Denim Pillows — Target
Global Lumbar Pillow— Target
Oliver Peoples Candle — Byredo
Cow Hide Carpet — Rose Bowl Flea Market

Mirror — Vintage
Stitched Hand Towels — Target

Thanks, Darien and Matt!

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