Before & After: A Boring Garage Becomes A Brilliant Dining Room



There’s something exciting about garages—those tiny limbo-like appendages that store cars, bikes, tools, and piles of retired crap—something that seems to imply possibility. Indeed, these spaces offer more than just storage options—they are (with a little sprucing up, of course) a refuge, a second living room, a creative launchpad, a band-practice studio. For Stacia and Phil Samartan, the garage at their Long Beach, California home would serve as a formal dining room. With the help of interior designer Susie Ho, the couple’s garage—a space that could have easily been drab and uninspired—was transformed into a stunning showpiece; a space that stands out while fitting in to the space’s architecture and the locale’s aesthetic. Check out all of the photos, plus Susie’s design notes after the jump! —Max


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This dining room used to be a part of the garage that [the Samartans] had converted to add more livable square footage to their home and I was brought onto the project to bring life into the space. First thing was first, deciding on what this room would be. We tinkered with the idea of a sitting room, but since they already had a living room in the home, Stacia and Phil wanted a space that would be more useful, so we decided that a formal dining room would be the best decision.

I was inspired by the architecture of the home as well as the amazing weather in Southern California. Cliff May homes are known for their relationship to the outdoors, so I wanted to showcase the connection between the interior and exterior, hence the sunny chartreuse walls and landscape green sofa. The original flooring was concrete and my clients wanted something new that was unique but durable (they have a dog, two cats and a baby on the way). We ended up with a porcelain tile that looks like wood flooring, super durable and wallet friendly. We wallpapered two walls with a colorful, graphic pattern that is very impactful upon entry. It was the perfect backdrop for a custom designed sectional sofa to serve as banquette seating for the organic, modern dining table. The vintage side chairs and light fixture belonged to the client and fit in perfectly with the new furnishings. This space showcases the couples’s casual but stylish lifestyle and I just love how this space came
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Source List
  • Sectional Sofa – Custom
  • Dining Table – Organic Modernism
  • Chairs – Vintage
  • Wallpaper – Cole & Son
  • Bar/Cabinet – Jonathan Adler
  • Pillows – Crate & Barrel, West Elm, Anthropologie
  • Art – David Weidman, Vintage
  • Lighting – George Nelson
  • Flooring – Dal Tile


  1. Stephanei says:

    What a gorgeous room. I really love that green sectional!

  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that sofa!

  3. Love all of it. The green sectional and the table are the standouts for me!

  4. Barb says:

    Love the green couch

  5. The yellow and the green make the room pop so brightly! Great before and after! I’m doing my living room/office in bright colors and this is a great post to see as I work on it.

  6. Elizabeth Williams says:

    Looks amazing!

  7. Aidel.K says:

    What a fantastic transformation! I agree that the sofa and table are amazing–they probably look so great because of the setting.

  8. Christina says:

    Thank you! This was the perfect dose of colorful I had been longing for!! : )

  9. Lacy says:

    Would love to know where you got that couch and if the cushions are removable?

  10. Jenifer says:

    These awful night photographs of the “before” garage remind me of those cosmetic surgery announces where the “before” photograph seems to be taken just as the person has got out of bed. It seems to be quite a general feature of the before-after comparisons :)

  11. Katie says:

    That sofa is the best ever, just love it. The room works so well, good job.

  12. Nadia says:

    So vibrant! I love the colors and the furniture! It’s such a happy room!
    Good job!

  13. What a transformation. And the colour of that banquette is stunning!

  14. Zen says:

    This is SERIOUSLY amazing and a real inspiration to me- moving next year!!! :) Can’t wait! I hope I do half a good a job as you did :)

  15. How could this room possibly be more stunning? And that magnificent seascape was the perfect selection. In fact, all the artwork choices are inspired. What a lovely room to see first thing in the morning.

  16. Courtney says:

    It always impresses me to see someone use so many colors and textures and it all fit together and not seem like it’s overbearing or too much. Well done! (And yes, that couch!)

  17. WOW, stunning transformation. I love how it turned out.

  18. Crissy Perham says:

    This whole room is so good. Love it!!!

  19. Amber says:

    I am so in love with this! Fabulous!

  20. Kelli says:

    This is hands down the BEST space I have ever seen on Design Sponge!!!

  21. Emily says:

    I would love love love to see more of this house!! Anyone know if there’s a house tour of this house somewhere out there?

  22. This is a Cliff May Ranch home, known as a Rancho. There are five basic floorplans in the Long Beach tract built in 1953 and 1954. Here are a couple links to similar homes with the half garage (or lanai) that was converted to living space: and

  23. Crazy about that banquette!!! Well done!

  24. PAtricia says:

    where I can get white vases that have on the table with flowers?
       I love it !!

  25. Luci says:

    GAWD!! THAT COUUUUCH!! So boss!

  26. Amy says:

    Weird question – what are the dimensions of the banquette & table? I want to do a similar corner banquette with a rectangular table & I am trying to achieve this balance of scale. This was the first place I’ve seen this done so beautifully.


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