Sterling K. Brown Gave His Garage a Makeover for the Ultimate Office–Man Cave

Apt2B did a makeover for Sterling from his Man Cave so that he could have a quiet place to study lines and escape. Architectural Digest featured the makeover on their website.

Seeking a space of his own, the Emmy-winning This Is Us actor decided to convert his overcrowded garage into an at-home sanctuary

After six years in his cozy Los Angeles home—a 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath—Emmy-winning This Is Us actor Sterling K. Brown was beginning to feel “a little squeezed out.” The space has been great for him and his wife, actress Ryan Michelle Bathe, to raise their two children. But Brown craved an at-home sanctuary where he could have “a little bit of respite, a little bit of quiet, and a little bit of solitude.” So, he decided to reclaim the detached garage as his own. The space offers a view of the backyard garden and pool, and Brown was on the hunt for an area to reply to emails, take phone calls, and memorize lines.

Brown wanted a space that skirted the stuffiness of a traditional home office and added a level of sophistication to the typical man cave—a “creative workspace,” he termed it. To achieve this room rehab, he enlisted the help of interior designer Kyle Schuneman and online lifestyle and furniture brand Apt2B. “Sometimes you need someone that has an eye for the utilization of space to show that it can be more than what it currently is in that moment,” Brown says.

Schuneman had his work cut out for him. Brown wanted to transform the 18.5-by-20-foot garage from the home of his barely used ping-pong table, Christmas tree, old refrigerator, and broken-in couch into a flex space that offered him a designated work area, a second living area for hosting small groups of friends, and a room to pace as he runs lines for his role as Randall in This is Us and upcoming film projects. (Brown will next appear as Joseph Spell in the biographical drama Marshall, which focuses on the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall. The film is set to be released on October 13.)

Schuneman and Brown started by completely emptying the garage. “By cleaning out the space, I got to understand what it was,” Schuneman explains; what he found was a beautiful flow of natural light, underutilized built-in shelving, and a gorgeous terrazzo-like cement floor that needed little more than an area rug.

From there, the design process flowed. The discovery of the dark-colored specs in the floor drew Schuneman to the navy wall color, applied to the garage walls by Paintzen. Knowing that he didn’t want to rely on just the sunlight to brighten up the room, Schuneman then presented Brown with the piece that, at first, seemed like a questionable choice, and eventually would become the clear standout: the mustard sectional. “I saw the couch in the design plan and I was like, ‘That is a bold color. How do I feel about bold-colored sofas? I’m not sure. . . .’” Brown recalls. “But, you know, I’m not a designer. It’s the same way when I put clothes on: It’s one thing looking at it on the rack, it’s another thing looking at it once you put it on your body, so I said I have to see it in the space, and when I saw it in the space, I was like, ‘Yo, this is kind of baller. I’m digging it.’”

Purple ottomans tucked underneath the window add a bonus pop of color without overwhelming the color scheme. “I try not to just have a three-color palette because you can get stuck in it a little bit, so that little eggplant hit was really cool,” Schuneman explains. Although Brown wasn’t immediately sold on that color either, he chose to trust his designer’s creative process and agreed that the corner “turned out exceptionally well.” As a bonus, the ottomans pop up to offer a soft space for Brown’s 6- and 2-year-old to play games or do puzzles.

To prevent the color combination from looking too juvenile, Schuneman sought leather, metal, and wood accents for the other pieces throughout the room, which he found in the two cabinets that frame the window and Brown’s new work table.

Atop the cabinet next to his worktable sits Brown’s Emmy, which he won in 2016 for his supporting-actor role as Christopher Darden in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. It will soon be accompanied by his second Emmy, which he won just earlier this month for Outstanding Lead Actor in This Is Us (which returns to NBC tomorrow, September 26, for its second season). Schuneman, who designed the space prior to Brown’s second Emmy win, displayed the 2016 statuette in a custom-made Lucite box, leaving room for future awards. Brown feared that the heavy, winged statuettes aren’t exactly kid-friendly—and perhaps not adult-friendly either. “I think I actually saw somebody impale themselves last year at the Emmys because you have to be careful,” said the actor. A second Lucite box was ordered just last week for Brown’s newest award, so it can be displayed alongside last year’s.

On the wall beyond that, in full view of the mustard sofa, hangs a television, visually tying together the work and relaxation areas, and solidifying the room as the ultimate in-home getaway. In fact, it may be a little too good, as Brown jokes, “Everybody wants to hang out in there, and I have to fight to keep it!”

To see all the images from the makeover check out our gallery.