A 20-foot setback becomes an amenity in the deft hands of Edward M. Baum. For a small infill development near Dallas, the architect fit a two-car driveway and matching carport within the footprint of the required setback. The strategy allows for a private interior courtyard, but also in true suburban style, the garage is designed to do double duty as an outdoor space.

Saving money was big for Baum, who lived in one of the duplexes and sold the rest. He made a profit, but even more important, he provided high-quality houses at a reasonable cost. For the garage cum party space, a parasol roof floats above reclaimed cypress walls—a common material in the south. “We used doubled-up 2x12s to support the standard commercial insulated metal roof,” Baum explains. “The connective incline beams are just 2x6s with plywood and electrical conduit that we flattened by hand as the braces.”

With the garage door open, the home’s façade is transformed into a bright entry court ideal for entertaining or socializing with neighbors. The walkway winds around to the side of the garage, which has a protective soffit but no wall, and then leads to a transparent entry.

Simple crushed rock ground cover offered big savings; plus it’s a permeable surface that hides spills or drips. The use of mostly outdoor materials along with leaving the space partially open provides occupants with a sense of the outdoors—even if it rains and the door remains closed. “But when the garage door is open,” Baum notes, “you can see the street from almost every room in the house.”