Renovation & Design

Imagination at work in artist's garage

Sculptor uses new space year-round

Space: the final frontier.

Things certainly looked that way to local artist and sculptor Rita Nayar when she finally had to accept that her home simply did not have the space to accommodate her art needs.

That "small space" she was using in her basement to produce pottery on her wheel — with the rest of the space taken up by her creations, perched wherever possible — was just inconvenient and awkward.

Even more inconvenient was loading that stuff all up to drive across the city to a local art studio where she rented space to complete said pottery. I mean, she had a day job, too. The split locations and time consumed working between them for the art part of her career was getting really tiresome, taking some of the fun out of all that creating.

What to do... what to do?

She spoke to her husband about "that big old brown shed we have out there in the yard. Do you think we could turn that into a studio?"

"Nope," says he. "Big waste of money. I believe the solution... is to build a garage."

"Really? A garage? But that sounds so expensive," Rita replied. "You don’t think the old brown shed..."

Hubby felt that a garage would not only give Rita the size and quality of building needed to do her work, but would also increase the resale value of their home should they ever decide to move on.

That made excellent sense to Rita as well, so in the summer of 2013, they hired a local garage builder, and by summer’s end, not only had they increased the value of their home and property, but Rita had a much-beloved, totally outfitted studio right in her own backyard!

Now from the outside, this may look like a regular garage, and it is built for standard garage use should that ever be desired, but this is no regular garage.

"We had it totally insulated and finished just as you would any home, making it easy to heat in winter and that great insulation really keeps out the summer heat as well," Rita said. "Even on really warm days, I sometimes find it almost too cool in there, and hardly ever need to turn on the overhead fan. It’s fabulous."

Got power? Because of the juice needed to keep her kiln cooking, not only is she running a 240-volt board, but there are outlets installed every three feet for that convenience thing. There is never a reason for Rita to be unplugged. That big board also effortlessly handles the industrial heater she uses to heat her beloved new space, cutting back to a maintenance level whenever possible.

Yes, there are cold stretches when that power-hungry heater can get a little costly to operate, but Rita balances that by sharing use of her beautiful studio with other artists who then chip in on the hydro bills. Everybody wins.

Yes, the garage does have a big automatic door, but we wouldn’t want to open that currently, as the shelving she has built on the inside of it would dump a lot of valuable art, pottery, etc. on the floor. Sssssmash!

Now since the whole garage studio idea came about because of Rita’s passion for the many different art forms she invests her time and talent in, you should have a look at the beauty she brings to this world, by having a direct peek at what she produces. I could never describe it at the level it deserves.

So feast your eyes on her website at, and when out and about, you’ll also find her work available for sale at McNally Robinson Grant Park, with proceeds of those sales going to "help support children’s pottery in Fort Richmond and a Community Care Project my spouse and I started in India."

Applause Rita Nayar, one passionate, compassionate ’Pegger.

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