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Solutions: Couple’s garden house a place of celebration

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Though fall will soon come to an end in Michigan and winter is inevitable, not everyone is ready to head inside just yet. One local couple, Edwardine and Bob Schuelke, who live in Dearborn, will continue entertaining for at least a few more weeks in and around their former garage turned garden house that has been at the core of so many happy occasions.

Their former 21/2 car detached garage was completely transformed by Bob, a contractor, who added a storage area and turned the rest into a garden house for gathering with guests.

On the exterior, a series of windows and other distinctive architectural details like French doors lend a welcoming feel. A slate roof was added to coordinate with the one they added to their main home that was custom built in 1941 for the previous owners.

Features inside the garden house include recessed lights, carpeting, baseboard heat and built-in speakers. A mini-kitchen area has granite countertops, a portable stove that comes in handy for heating up appetizers and a small fridge for beverages.

There’s enough seating inside to accommodate up to 14 people and additional seating outside. As Edwardine explains, the fact that her husband is a contractor and she has an interior design degree helped them turn the utilitarian space into something special. “Anything I design, he will implement,” she says.

Through the years, their little garden house getaway and the surrounding outdoor areas have accommodated as many as 60 guests, which was the count at their son’s wedding reception.

“It’s been so useful,” says Edwardine who also has an easier time keeping her main house clean with the spare space.

The couple has held everything from a chili cook-off at their garden house to a traditional autumn pheasant dinner, along with holiday parties that last through the end of November and into mid-December.

When the couple’s neighborhood was featured on the Dearborn Symphony Home Tour, they hosted the afterglow party at their garden house for a large crowd. “If you can’t share your house, what good is it?” asks Edwardine who also held a fundraiser for the symphony on another occasion.

In addition, the charming garden house has been the site for their annual family reunion that includes a number of relatives from out of town.

Some gatherings have featured a live band or a DJ in the outdoor areas. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, they simply set up a tent.

“People are just so surprised to see what you can do with outdoor entertaining and a garage,” says Edwardine.

Hanging ferns embellish the entrance, while white Christmas lights adorn the garden area year-round.

Their celebrations may change, but guests’ reactions stay the same as they are surprised and delighted by the unique surroundings. “They can’t believe that (the garden house) was a garage,” she says.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at