Is your garage a one-trick pony? Maybe it's time to broaden its horizons. Here are some ideas to make your garage work harder.
1. Grow your green thumb.
Install a gardening station in an underused corner. Include shelving, a pegboard to keep tools handy, a sturdy work surface, and open areas for holding bins of fertilizer or other bulky items.
2. Hide your utilities.
Laundry appliances, the water heater, the furnace, and the central vacuum unit are great examples of utilities that can be tucked into a corner of the garage, leaving you more living space inside your home.
3. Add it up.
Building living quarters above your garage can provide a home for an aging relative or a boomerang child, and, if you rent it out, can supplement your income. But adding on to a garage requires thoughtful planning. Take architectural cues from the existing garage and don't let the addition overtake your house. You might consider scaling down the upper floor to keep it in line with your home size, and go with a similar roofline. Here are 3 quick tips for adding on to a garage:
- Insulate the floor of the new living space.
- If you're building a new garage, install water and sewer lines and run plumbing up to the attic so an addition can be built in the future. You don't have to think this far ahead with electrical lines, because new wiring can easily be connected to your existing circuit box.
- Design and landscape the door leading to the upper unit so it says, "Someone lives over the garage," rather than, "This is a utility door."
4. Store your stuff.
A wealth of storage systems exists to help you give virtually anything a place of its own. Look for movable shelving, cabinet components, platforms that lower from the ceiling, and more. Start the search at your local home improvement store.
5. Have some fun.
Dedicate a corner to recreation with table tennis, a billiards table, a pinball machine, video games, or darts.
6. Get to work.
Transform an upper level or one car bay into a spacious home office. Install an exterior entry door to prevent customers from traipsing through your house.
7. Catch a flick.
Convert a portion to a home theater, complete with plush chairs, a big-screen monitor, surround sound, and a popcorn machine.
8. Pump it up.
Get the home gym you always wanted by setting up a weightlifting station, stationary bike, and free-weights rack. Include a treadmill, too, to help you burn calories while the winter winds blow.
9. Make music.
There's a reason they're called "garage bands." A little soundproofing material can create a premium spot for your rock star wannabe to practice, record, and dream.
10. Be crafty.
Install varied heights of desks and countertops, provide organized bins for materials, and designate private workspaces for each family member's interests, such as scrapbooking, photography, painting, drawing, or computer animation.
If your garage is attached to the house, your renovation might require some thought with regard to safety. Consider these points:
- If you're adding a floor, have a local building official, structural engineer, or registered architect make sure the existing walls can support it. They may need to be reinforced.
- Ensure the fire code is met. Often two layers of drywall are required between the garage ceiling and the above living space.
- Seal the garage from the new living space—just as it's sealed from the main house—and make sure the space is ventilated properly.
- If the garage isn't appropriately ventilated, install ventilation grills and "undercut" a side-entry door. Carbon monoxide is heavier than air, so if you cut off the bottom inch or two of the door, dangerous gases can escape.