How Four St. Paul Housemates Turned a Dingy Garage into a Gorgeous Workspace

The pandemic project was powered by visionary architect Kyle Huberty

Anyone catch the new issue of Dwell magazine? Minnevangelist’s Ashlea Halpern wrote about four housemates in St. Paul who turned a dingy old garage into an airy, contemporary workspace for $26,000.

“Kyle Huberty is really good at making unfun situations fun,” says David Rollyn Powell, an illustrator and his closest childhood friend. A people person if ever there was one, Kyle, an architect at Minnesota firm RoehrSchmitt, along with his wife Elsie, a clothing designer at Hackwith Design House, purchased their 112-year-old duplex in 2017, set on bringing that same energy to communal living.

Fast forward to today and theirs is a full house. Best pal David moved in, along with his wife, Morna, and their Australian cattle dog, Trout. The Hubertys welcomed a daughter in October 2020; the Powells are expecting their first child this spring.

When the pandemic hit, everyone was suddenly working from home, so Kyle decided to retrofit the garage behind the house into a “creative escape.”

The garage was little more than a dark, empty storage room with two dinky windows—framed but not insulated. But Kyle had big plans for the overhaul, finding inspiration in the work of Scandinavian modernists like Alvar Aalto. He describes his vision as “wine taste on a beer budget”: natural light, real wood, and a subtly curved ceiling.

He scrimped by purchasing double-pane Marvin windows and enamel light fixtures from Bauer Brothers Salvage in Minneapolis, plucking discarded patio pavers from a dump in St. Paul, and scouring Facebook Marketplace for a deal on a secondhand cast-iron Jøtul stove and a gold mine of Douglas fir from a decommissioned munitions plant.

The resulting 600-square-foot studio is snug but inviting—like a North Shore cabin with a surf-shack vibe. And in the end, Kyle succeeded in making a space where people could hang out and spitball ideas. “It’s about feeding our creativity and passions,” he says. “I don’t care if the studio is imperfect as long as we’re all here, making fun things.”

To read the full story, grab the new issue of Dwell or read the story online (subscription required).