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May 21, 2012 / Linda Hartong


I am walking with my sister-in-law, Karen,when she decides that I should be photographing the garage doors in Carmel.  This is contrary to my Kansas mentality which is “garage doors are ugly- keep them out of every photo if you can”. As she points out various doors, I begin to snap away. She is right. Most are interesting if not “down right “charming.

And as I snap, I begin to think about this “new kind of outbuilding” that began to come about with the advent of cars.

The first garage door worked just like a barn door. (In actuality, that’s exactly what it was.) It was a double door, attached to the garage with strap hinges, that opened outwards. Garage doors in those days were really just basic sheds. And the doors were subjected to heavy wear and tear, being opened and closed almost daily.

The garage door at Tor House is such a door. Of course, the poet Jeffers made it more interesting by hanging the old horse shoes over the door. They are hung this way to keep the good luck from spilling out. Made of brick and covered with ivy , this is more that a shed. 

Land being plentiful at the time, garages were detached from the house.

Carmel is quite hilly so some of those barn-door garages fit nicely on the down slope and raised your living room to an ocean view.

“Swiss Chalet”

“Major Coote House”

 And “Windamere”

typify this style.

As land became more precious, garages became attached to their homes and echoed the style and color such as this Murphy-built garage at the Hasenyager Home.

The “dolled -up” Carriage style door still seems the most popular in the cottages. 

My , oh, my look at all these great details.

This one is embellished with false half-timbering, vines softening its lines and even a “cat” caught on the roof.

This home owner has cleverly faux painted a window box on the door.

While this one has created a focal point with an iron bench used to display her plantings of ivy, swedish ivy, vinca, ferns and begonia. The door is pink!! And a wonderful shade, I might add. My homes association would have me tarred and feathered for this.

Clematis “Montana” is a favorite here as a draper to soften and enhance.

Wow! A two car garage. Very unusual in Carmel-by-the Sea, yet done with such good taste. I would bet that window is purely for looks and it achieves that “in spades”.

At Helen Browns Studio, the passion vine seems to have taken over. So the owner has simply given up and parks outside. 

Other garages are now storage and potting sheds like the one at “Lilacs and Laughter”.

These three fascinate me. It is almost impossible to know what function they now serve.

But they are colorful and unique.

I suspect this one is now a bedroom.

I love the garage at Holly Oak Cottage. This is a true garage, but from the back side looks like a small cottage.

This free-standing garage 

again mimics the style of its home 

and is as lovely as any cottage.

The stone garage at “Biddlestone Cottage” is covered with climbing roses

Landscaped and its windows covered by lace curtains.

Other garages have become Guest Cottages. Don’t you love the awning over the door?

Edgemere Cottages has done this with a garage.

As has “Pied a Terre”

Some even hold cars!!

And here the homeowner has used a car port with its own grass welcome mat.

If you look at some of the garage blueprints and designs available today, you’ll see more than just a few carriage house styles. What people want now is the look of the old carriage house, with it’s barn-style doors.


Leave a Comment
  1. Nita@ModVintageLife / May 21 2012 9:06 pm

    Great post as usual. I never tire of looking at your images of Carmel. How wonderful all these garages are. I so want carriage doors for my own garage…some day….. Thanks for taking all these gorgeous photos and sharing. I love them!

  2. Heather / May 22 2012 12:44 am

    I love the faux window box! That Karen is a smart woman!

  3. Cheryl / May 22 2012 1:06 am

    Who would have thought that looking at garages could be so much fun. Thanks!

  4. sherry goering / May 22 2012 6:42 pm

    This is a treasure! It would seem there must be some kind of covenant against buying a new steel garage door or tearing down a vintage one. Thank you.

  5. carmelcottage / Sep 24 2013 3:42 am

    Does anyone know the variety of Clematis Montana used here? I live in New Zealand and adore Carmel. We visit once a year. I have been looking for Clematis Montana at my plant centres, but there are many varieties. It maybe Clematis Montana Snowflake, but does anyone know for sure?

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