Haymes Blog › Mechanic’s Workshop Conversion | Shannon McGrath

5th January 2021

Mechanic’s Workshop Conversion | Shannon McGrath

For Melbourne photographer Shannon McGrath converting a mechanic’s workshop into her dream home was a labour of love. Shannon is a Melbourne based photographer who decided it was time to get on the other side of renovating.  

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Haymes colour used: 'White Marble'


Shannon’s father’s old workshop was a strong influence on her growing up and when he retired Shannon and her mother Wynne decided to convert the workshop into their home. Shannon’s home is one of the two light and bright apartments that Tim Jackson from Jackson Clements Burrows Architects and interior designer Hamish Guthrie (Shannon’s then-husband) of Hecker Guthrie helped transform.

Their plan was to have two interconnected apartments, they would be separate but accessible through external walkways. The great news was that the council approved the project, however life and a lack of funds got in the way of starting the renovation. Still holding onto their dream home plans, Shannon and her mum finally got to start the project in 2017. For Shannon it was really important having her mum and her mum’s partner Danny Rae, who was also the project builder, around for her young daughters Sybil and Jos when she couldn’t be. As a working mum family close by was a priority.


Let’s talk design for the workshop conversion project.

Holding onto the heritage elements of the workshop building was a big part of the design plans, the distinctive brick being one of those. “We created what I describe as a two-storey extrusion, which echoes the garage’s original pitched roof,” says Shannon.

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Haymes colour used: 'White Marble'

Another key element of the build for both apartments was you guessed it natural light. Shannon is a strong believer in an airy and bright home that still feels light in the middle of Winter, which is why our Haymes colour 'White Marble' compliments the space so perfectly. Shannon’s top floor apartment lets in ample amounts of light due to the large glass wall. The bonus of such a gorgeous glass wall is the beautiful treetop city vistas. Wynne’s ground floor apartment also has a great connection to the outside, with views of a park opposite the house. 

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Haymes colour used: 'White Marble'

The use of Haymes colour 'White Marble' paired with the soft and eloquent tones of the subtle pinks, green and a hint of blue just makes this space feel like the perfect combination to create an area that allows the family to just breathe.

Once the building was complete it was time to start work on the interiors with Hamish Guthrie and his business partner Paul Hecker. The palette for the interiors was inspired by nature. By pairing blonde timber furniture with soft linens and moss-green fabrics like the rug, it creates natural light without the glare.

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Haymes colour used: 'White Marble'

Natural light is the hero here and the soft tones brought in through little accents like the green of the rug make the connection to the outside space effortless.

The additions of leather, linen and rattan compliment Shannon’s collection of handmade ceramics effortlessly. Before Shannon was a photographer, she studied Fine Arts with a focus on ceramics. It definitely shows in her choices of materials that are raw and have a sense of tactile sensibility.

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Haymes colour used: 'White Marble'

A hint of greenery adds that personal touch bringing a freshness and a sense of personality to the white walls in Haymes colour 'White Marble'.

Lots of Shannon’s design choices were instinctive and motivated by her wish to maximise the light coming through from the high ceiling pitch. The grand roof shape reflects the original workshop and also her beautiful country farmhouse. This helps to further bring country and city together and serving to keep memories alive.

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When you have a smaller space and want to make a big impact using greenery against grey makes a really great statement and a dynamic area to be in.

Finished Product

Once the build was finished it was time for Shannon to do her thing and photograph her new home. Given this is what she does each and every day you’d figure it would be a walk in the park, however Shannon struggled to capture her own space. “I am used to appreciating another person’s taste and style and communicating that in images, but trying to capture my own space made me question everything.”

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Haymes colour used: 'White Marble'

Shannon brought in her good friend and designer Swee Lim to serve as an impartial eye and bring out the beauty of both apartments as a unit and individually. We think they have done an incredible job. 

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Haymes colour used: 'White Marble'

Unsure on what kind of white to use in your home? Check out our blog on Choosing the right shade of white for your home. 

Thanks to the other suppliers Great Dane, Collective, Fisher & Paykal, Cassie Hansen, Fanuli, Halcyon lake, Hale and mercantile, Hub, In Good Company, Lovelight, Modern times, Ross Didier, Valerie Sparks, Brodware – tapware, Vicstone – stone, Woodcut – timber flooring, Whitcliff – carpet, Guy Phelan – joinery, Rock Martin – aluminium staircase and front gates, Tilerific – Tiling, Artedomus, Urban Edge & Architectual Metal Precision.

Featured colours

White Marble