Wants vs. Needs: Studio and Guest Suite

The most expensive thing about our project, outside of the main house, is the studio/guest suite, which means this is the next thing we are considering putting on the chopping block.  When we first began talks about this house, we knew we needed a container for an art studio, as my husband is a painter and he also has a ton of woodworking tools.  Everyone needs a little space sometimes and a place to be creative, and the studio affords him this.  Since the studio can be a messy place, we decided a couple of years ago that a sink would also be necessary for washing brushes and hands before coming in the house and ruining floors, counters, and the sink.

A few months into our discussions, the idea of putting a guest room in the studio came about.  I love that guests could have their own house connected by a common porch.  When we don’t have a guest, we can use the space for reading, writing, crafting, or whatever.  I think the guest suite idea came about after we visited friends in California who had a great little guest house, but no bathroom in it.  This didn’t seem like a big deal until our friend inadvertently locked us out all night and until mid-morning when she woke up…which meant we had to hold it for a loooooong time, which was really funny later.  Our friends have since built an even more wonderful guest house and added a bathroom to avoid this issue again.

So, since we were already going to add a sink, we figured we might as well add a toilet to our studio/guest container, and if we were going that far with plumbing, we might as well stick a shower in there too.  A full bath out there is good for resale value—it means that potentially someone could rent the space (of course a kitchen would have to be added, but we weren’t planning on a rental anyway).   A full bath is great for a long-term guest or family member too…my parents are looking forward to that space.

But this is where our wants vs. needs come to play.  Do we need a studio? Yes.  Do we need a sink? Yes.  Do we need a toilet? Well, that’s more of a want (although it would be so good for parties).  Do we need a full bath?  Again, this is a want.  And do we need a guest room at all out there?  As hard as it is to say, this may also be a want.  We will have a guest room in the house, but if (if) we have children, that guest room would quickly be taken over, leaving us without enough space.  Plus, and this just may be an old fantasy of mine, if we were to have a kid, it would be great to stick them outside in the container when s/he is a teenager to have their own “apartment” of sorts.

So where does this leave us? It’s a question of budget.  I want the studio, guest room, and full bath if we can afford it.  If we can’t, I want the studio and (at the very least) a half bath, with the idea that we could later construct a wall to make a guest room and leave enough space to install a prefabricated shower in the bathroom.

These choices aren’t easy, but we want and need a house, so they have to be made.


4 thoughts on “Wants vs. Needs: Studio and Guest Suite

  1. I was thinking all along that leaving the studio out of the equation was a possible solution. Have you had it independently budgeted? Would it be a big savings? I have similar needs (I’m a sculptor) and had thought of 2 containers side by side as a studio. But in terms of cost – I am now more tempted to have a regular 10M x 5M shed and use that – it works out a lot cheaper – especially leaving out plumbing fixtures for the time being. If having the studio building is threatening the whole project, why not leave it for later on. Make do with a shed studio, and even if you have a child in the near future – you could possibly convert the office into a nursery and still have a guest room!! A few years down the track you may then get to build the studio/guest wing.

    • Ah, Terry, you sound like my designer! I know you’re right, but there are some things I’m just not ready to give up (like studio + basic plumbing). Still keeping my fingers crossed that it’s do-able.

  2. Oh my word. I have just discovered your site and will have to read through your entire archive: I believe we are at a similar position with our as yet unbuilt new build here in Scotland. We too refer to our troubles as ‘problems we are lucky to have’ and I completely identify with your feelings about this whole business – and have gone through many nearly-identical thought processes. Thank you so much for writing this account.

    • Oh, I’m so sorry you are going through the same predicament. It’s really a tough thing to deal with, even if they are problems we’re lucky to have! I’m interested in hearing/seeing more about your project, and I wish you good luck!!

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