When Russell Campaigne, AIA, and Mary Jo Kestner, AIA, bought an 1840s Federal-style house in Guilford, Conn., they also became the proprietors of its uninspiring detached garage. But the couple saw beyond the garage’s drab appearance and transformed it into a charming, functional office for themselves and their three employees.

The husband-and-wife team had to work within the building’s original footprint, but they did obtain a variance that allowed them an extra 5 vertical feet. So they raised part of the roof and added a couple of shed dormers, turning the second floor into a light-filled studio space. Campaigne and Kestner also remade the first floor into a 450-square-foot workshop. “We do a lot of models and mock-ups and store a lot of samples,” Campaigne says. On the entry side of the building, they left the original, low roofline in place, sheltering a newly added walkway that welcomes clients and collaborators to the office.