6 Smart Ways to Use Garage Space

By Ashley Marcin on 4 May 2016 0 comments

My husband and I spent our spring break this year clearing out and cleaning our garage. It had been filled with remnants from our move (nearly two years ago), random junk, and even… garbage. Now? The space is nearly empty, all 600 glorious square feet of it. And I'm wondering what we can do with all this added square footage, since we don't necessarily need to shelter our vehicles from the elements year 'round. (See also: 5 Things in Your Garage That Have Serious Re-Sale Value)

Mudroom

Don't have much closet space indoors? Try making a mudroom out of a portion of your garage to keep your stuff organized and tidy. All you really need to finish this project are some hooks for coats and bags, a bench for sitting, and maybe storage cubes for shoes and outdoor accessories. The rest is up to your budget and creativity.

We turned a wall in our garage into a mudroom of sorts and decided to highlight the area by painting it an accent color. We then laid a rag rug down to cozy up the floor and protect feet from getting cold while getting shoes out of bins. I'd like to paint the door leading out there a funky color to make it even more fun. This project took us maybe an hour and cost just $50 for all supplies (we used what we had on hand).

Play Space

Or maybe you need more room for your kids and their toys to sprawl out. We've considered dedicating an area of the garage to play, especially since our backyard gets so much sun on hot summer afternoons. This garage-to-playroom conversion is pretty basic, but it gets the job done.

Try installing a few toddler swings to a solid support beam. Place a picnic table or two around for a drawing surface or just eating lunch. Since you're in the garage, you can even experiment with messier toys, like a DIY sandbox or rice sensory bin that won't collect as many bugs as it would outdoors. To soften the concrete flooring, head to your local carpet outlet and purchase a large remnant piece.

Office or Studio

Need a place to work from home? Try converting your garage to a studio or office. This unique before and after will get you dreaming up the many possibilities. For example, there's so much paint can do to freshen up a dingy area and make it come alive and inspire. Simple white is a solid choice if you want a neutral backdrop and maximum light.

At the same time, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Concrete floors can be as practical as they are easy to maintain. And exposed beams add architectural interest, so don't bother trying to cover them. Once you get the bones looking good, the rest will depend on the kind of work you do. Artists may like keeping the garage door open for extra light during work hours. A sturdy table may work well as a desk and meeting space. It's up to you!

Home Gym

Some friends of mine recently took over one half of their garage to make an at-home gym because they were frustrated with monthly membership rates. Their hard work paid off — big time. You can get fancy and do flooring and walls, etc. Or you can stick with what matters most: Clear out clutter and replace with weights, mats, and motivation posters.

What you stock your gym with depends on the activities you do. To get a good variety of equipment (and mirrors, etc.) on the cheap, consider checking Facebook yard sale groups, Craigslist, and even making a call out to friends. We actually scored a cheap treadmill from our neighbors that had been collecting dust in their basement for a few years. All we had to do was ask.

Hybrid Room

Maybe you have multiple needs. In that case, try planning out your garage to meet them all. Carla at Small + Friendly divided her garage into four different zones. There's a crafting/sewing station, a play wall, a laundry nook, and then some smart storage/mudroom area. Everyone in the house has someplace to spread out.

I like this family's use of vertical storage to maximize how much stuff they could contain in each zone. It's full, but very well organized. Additionally, if your budget doesn't allow for flooring, make use of interlocking foam tiles anywhere kids might be playing on the ground for added comfort. Carla's husband even uses the tiles as a makeshift yoga mat for morning workouts.

Bedroom and Beyond

My jaw dropped when I came across this incredible garage-to-bedroom transformation. For just $900, Brooke Frederick was able to totally clean out the space, give it a nice coat of bright paint, exterminate pests, and then furnish to her specifications. And if you don't have a hefty budget, that's all you really need to do to make a room out of your garage.

Of course, this kind of frugal flip won't work for everyone. Moving your sleeping or living quarters to the garage is probably more appealing if your garage has plenty of windows. Also, Frederick notes there's no insulation in her new bedroom, so this idea works best if you live in a more moderate climate.

Things to Think About

  • If you do intend to use your space year-round, you'll want to insulate and drywall to keep the heat and cold out. Same goes for your garage door.
     
  • Adding a few windows can also help provide the area with natural light, but aren't a requirement if you budget doesn't allow.
     
  • You may need to enlist an experienced electrician to wire some outlets to your new room to get the power flowing if you plan to use computers, televisions, and other electronics.
     
  • That all being said, major improvements may require a permit. Check with your local municipality for the rules that apply in your area.

Do you use your garage for something other than parking cars? Tell us about it!

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