Skip to Content

DIY – How To Turn A Garage Into A Studio Apartment With Shiplap & Metal

If there is one project at the farm that was high on our list of “must-complete” this summer, it was turning the unused space in our garage into a larger, full-functioning small studio apartment.

And finally, after a flurry of DIY activity over the last month, we can check it off the list!

When we first built back in 2016, we carved out small space from the garage to create a guest sleeping space.

garage studio apartment
The completed kitchen area of the garage studio apartment.

It certainly wasn’t a large space. In fact it measured just about 20′ x 10′ wide. Nor did it sport a full kitchen or bedroom.

But it certainly served it’s purpose well. It was nice to have a separate area with a bathroom and sleeping area near the house.

The best part was by keeping it small, it left us with a fairly big area of garage space to use.

The only problem was, after living here for 3 years, we realized we didn’t need that space at all!

finished garage
We wanted to keep the look and feel of the original garage, shown here right after being built in 2016.

And to boot, we realized it would be far nicer to have had a bit larger space for an apartment. One that could include a full kitchen, bedroom, and a washer and dryer.

After all, with a big family and a lot of visitors, you never know when it might come in handy. And, if nothing else, it could make for a great office or rental space someday if ever needed.

Creating A Studio Apartment From A Garage

The goals for our project were simple.

First and foremost, we wanted to create the space using materials that matched the farm.

And we certainly didn’t want to change the garage exterior at all. It was important to keep it looking like a simple extension of the house. ‘

And finally, as always, do it all on DIY friendly budget!

So with that in mind, we decided to use our inexpensive building material “friends” of shiplap, metal and rope to accomplish at all.

The completed bedroom area includes a 6′ x 3′ washer and dryer hook-up area as well.

All in all, it took us about 4 weeks to complete the project. The completed studio apartment ended up being about 650 square feet.

Here is a look at the project from start to finish. We included a short video walk through as well at the end.

Keeping The Space We Need

All we really use our garage for now is to store our mower, kayaks, bikes and a bit of few small items.

So with that in mind, we started by taping off the space we needed to keep for storage.

We wanted to keep the existing garage door in place, so we marked off a small 10′ x 12′ area directly behind the door. And, we made sure to give just enough room for the door opener to still stay in place and work!

Walling Off The Storage Area

Using the tape as a guide, we built stud walls using reclaimed 2 x 4’s. We secured the walls to the rafters above with screws, and to the concrete floor below with screws and adhesive.

studio garage apartment
The main living area now – this space used to hold a bed before the bedroom portion was built. It is open to the kitchen giving a nice, large living area.

After that we, we insulated the walls to keep it warm and cozy on the apartment side.

At this point, there was no turning back – the space had been claimed!

Installing Shiplap, Metal & Rope Trim

It seems like everywhere you go on our farm, you will run into 3 materials : shiplap, metal, and rope trimming. It is used prominently in our home, barn, tiny cabin – and now our little studio garage apartment.

And with good reason! And not only do they look great, they stand up to the test of time without near zero maintenance.

Shiplap really is one of the easiest and most cost effective materials to use when building. Not only is it fairly inexpensive, it is also extremely easy to install. (See : How To Install Shiplap With Ease)

cabin shiplap
We use shiplap, metal and rope trim everywhere – including in our little cabin.

We get our shiplap boards from a nearby sawmill for around 60 cents per board foot. It is certainly a much less expensive route than trying to buy it through a big lumber store or retailer.

The best part of all, unlike drywall, there is no finishing needed. And with keeping the unpainted “wood” look theme, once we nail up the shiplap, the walls are complete!

Using Existing Materials To Keep On Budget

We still had a few new metal sheets left from creating our house ceiling. So we used those as a wainscoting in the bedroom. It is a neat industrial look, and like shiplap, easy and inexpensive to install.

It was also a huge savings on the budget because we had them on hand! ( See : Installing Metal Walls & Ceilings)

To complete the look and trim it all out, we used 3/4″ thick twisted manilla rope. It is a wonderful trick for trimming we learned from the Amish craftsmen that helped build our house.

diy garage studio apartement
Twisted manila rope works incredibly well for trimming out shiplap.

You simply staple it in place instead of cutting a ton of wood at difficult angles for trim. We trimmed the entire apartment in about an hour – with no cutting!

Creating A Full Kitchen and Bedroom For The Studio Apartment

We moved the bathroom sliding barn door to the side to let the old room be the main kitchen / living area. Then used the space we gained in the garage for creating a small 10 x 14 bedroom, complete with a 3 x 6′ washer and dryer hookup as well.

The old living space had a small sink in place in a “kitchenette” area. We gutted that area, and then used unpainted stock wood cabinets to create a full kitchen.

To dress them up, we applied a few coats of semi-gloss paint. We were actually surprised at how “custom” they ended up looking simply after painting.

We had to gut the old kitchen area and move the bathroom barn door entrance to the side wall.

For appliances, Mary found the coolest little 21″ mini 4 burner stove / oven and a medium sized refrigerator that fit the space perfectly.

And finally, for the backsplash, we simply cut more of the galvanized metal to complete the “industrial” ktichen look.

As promised earlier, here is a quick video tour of the completed garage studio apartment. It is a bit hard to capture on a walk through due to the smallness.

It’s hard to believe when you walk in now that it was just a garage!

Happy DIY’ing! Jim and Mary.

Jim and Mary Competti have been writing gardening, DIY and recipe articles and books for over 15 years from their 46 acre Ohio farm. The two are frequent speakers on all things gardening and love to travel in their spare time.

As always, feel free to email us at with comments, questions, or to simply say hello! You can sign up for our free email list in the subscribe now box in the middle of this article. Follow us on Facebook here : OWG Facebook. This article may contain affiliate links.