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What is a carriage house? If you’re thinking this sort of building has something to do with horses, you’re essentially on the right track.

“If you hear the term ‘carriage house,’ it’s probably the real thing: an historic building that at some point housed horses and carriages,” says Joshua Zinder, principal of Joshua Zinder Architecture + Design in Princeton, NJ.

And while horse-drawn carriages haven’t rolled down most streets for years, the architecture that accommodated them still exists in houses today. Just as homeowners like to preserve crown molding or other unique architectural details, many carriage houses have been restored and modified for another use. From guest suites to home offices, renovated carriage houses can add a lot of value to a property.

The original carriage houses were popular in the Northeastern United States and served dual purposes. These two-story structures housed the horses and their gear downstairs while their caretaker resided above them on an upper floor.

“This was a self-sustaining structure with a small kitchen and bathroom,” says Michael Menn, principal of Michael Menn Ltd., based in Northbrook, IL. “The stableman typically resided in the carriage house.”

Contemporary examples of carriage houses

The carriage houses you see today are either updates on the old structures or new homes built in the style of a carriage house. The living space will be…