According to the American Housing Survey, 80 percent of all homeowners in the United States have either a garage or a carport on their property. However, despite the prevalence of these vehicle-shielding outbuildings, those supposed bonus spaces are often the bane of a homeowner’s existence. In fact, according to a report by Gladiator GarageWorks, nearly a quarter of those with a garage have too much stuff in it to park their car, as well.
And while, when staring down a dirty concrete floor, a half-broken garage door, and a mountain of stuff you meant to throw out might make you want to raze your garage and start from scratch, there are less-drastic approaches that can make better use of that space in no time.
“Even if you don’t maintain a fantasy garage—with colorful, clean laminate floors, creamy washable painted walls, sturdy cabinetry, and shelving safely lining the walls—you deserve a cleaner, less cluttered, more organized space that supports your lifestyle and activities,” says interior designer Denise Gianna of New York-based Denise Gianna Designs.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled 40 easy tips that will transform your garage in no time, turning that damp, dirty storage space into a part of the house you actually enjoy. And for more great coverage of your home, don’t miss the The Worst Home Decorating Trend the Year You Were Born.
Add some vertical storage.
If you want to make the most of your garage, look up. “Remember your vertical storage! Get hooks and shelving that will allow you to get seldom used, but needed, items up high and out of the way. Anything at eye level or below should be things you use often,” says professional organizer Karin Socci, owner of The Serene Home.
Turn the space near the door into a mudroom.
Instead of tracking those muddy boots through the house, turn part of your garage into a makeshift mudroom. Add a storage bench to toss those hats and glove into, some mats to wipe those dirty shoes, and some hooks to hang up your coat. And if you’re thinking of doing some shopping with your home in mind, be sure to know these 30 Amazing Secrets Target Managers Don’t Want You to Know.
Upgrade your garage door.
While replacing your battered vinyl or aluminum door with a wood one is a great way to make your home look more polished, you can also enjoy a similar effect by filling in the dents in your existing door and giving it a fresh coat of paint.
And make it accessible via remote.
While remote-controlled garage door openers are great, if you really want to improve your space, try using a smartphone app that does the same for you. Apps like myQ can open and closer your garage door from anywhere, meaning you’re never stuck outside waiting for the door to open in inclement weather. And for more amazing tips for your home, check out the 30 Plants You Should Never Bring into Your House.
Use pallets to store sports equipment.
Whether you’re an avid fly fisher or your kids have a never-ending supply of hockey gear, chances are all that equipment ends up cluttering your garage—and occasionally denting your car. If you want to make the most of the space, use some old wooden pallets to store those otherwise unwieldy pieces of equipment. Simply prop the pallets up on their narrow side, affix them to the wall, and voila! Easy rustic storage that costs next to nothing!
Add some insulation.
Home to the biggest door on your house, your garage is likely a major source of heating loss, as well. If you want to make your space warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer—and lower your electric and gas bills—start by adding some insulation. Even if the space isn’t fully finished, you can add some insulation between the studs and make the space more usable year-round.
Paint the floor.
That dingy concrete floor isn’t making your garage look more attractive or improving its resale value. The good news? A little paint can transform the space in no time and make the whole space look more polished. And for some more great décor tips, here are the 40 Home Upgrades Everyone Should Have by Age 40.
Turn it into play space.
“A garage can be a great area to convert into a playroom where kids can play more freely. During good weather, the garage door can be opened so they can play inside and outside, allowing parents to focus on their kids instead of whether or not they left the back door open,” says Shawn Breyer, owner of Breyer Home Buyers in Atlanta. “You can modify a garage for storage for all of the toys and crafts without affecting the resell value since great storage in a garage space is desirable.”
You’ve already made over your kitchen with new cabinets, so why not do the same for your garage? Adding some cabinetry to your garage can keep that clutter out of sight and out of mind, making you a little less stressed every time you use the space.
Use moisture-blocking paint
Much like basements and other low-level spaces, garages tend to get a little bit damper than the rest of the house. Unfortunately, over time, this can be a recipe for mold and mildew, meaning those things you’re storing in there won’t be long for this world.
“To make any garage more storage and activity friendly, take the time to paint masonry or damp walls with a moisture blocking paint and sheetrock walls with paint formulated for clean-ability,” says Gianna. “If it’s dry and cozy and easier to clean, the garage becomes a place you want to be.”
Reorganize every few months.
Don’t make those garage clean-outs a once-a-decade affair. “You would never neglect a room in your home the way the poor garage gets neglected,” says Gianna. “Sweep, shop vac, hose out, and organize the garage at least four times a year. It should really be even more often—especially if you enter your home through your garage! And don’t just rearrange the stuff! Recycle, donate or sell what you don’t or won’t likely use. Knowing that you will be committed to cleaning and organizing every three months will definitely help you curate with extreme prejudice!”
Install a mini-split heating and cooling system.
If you want to make your garage a more hospitable space for you and your car all year, install a ductless mini-split system in the space for heating and cooling. Not only are these machines unobtrusive, their dehumidifier function can also help you address any dampness that might otherwise affect your space. And for more great ways to transform your living quarters, here are 27 Affordable Ways to Turn Your Home into a Luxury Gym!
Add pool noodles to your walls to protect your car doors.
If you’re constantly dinging your car door on the walls of your garage, there’s a simple, inexpensive solution that can help. Simply affix pool noodles to the walls of your space with screws and you’ll have the perfect bumper to keep your vehicle safe!
Turn an unused garage into entertaining space.
Not using that garage to park in? Why not turn it into the perfect indoor-outdoor entertaining space? Add some paint to the floor, install a new door, add a mini-split system, and you’ve got the perfect place to hang out with guests.
“If you need the garage space for other purposes, go the extra mile and convert the garage into what you really need: an extra room, office, art studio, or workshop,” suggests Gianna. “Just take the time to really commit and fit the space for the intended purpose—don’t try to cram alternate spaces in with your car, mower, bikes and snow blower.”
Install a fold-down workbench.
Instead of taking up a huge amount of space in your garage with a traditional workbench, install a folding one instead. Simply attach a desk-sized piece of your preferred wood to the wall on hinges and you’ve got the perfect workspace without encroaching on the room needed for your car.
Insulate your garage door.
The walls of your garage aren’t the only part of the space where heat escapes. Adding some spray foam insulation to the inside of your garage door can help you maintain a more pleasant temperature inside the garage, no matter what Mother Nature throws at you.
Transform the space into a guest room.
Is your home too small to do much overnight entertaining? Try transforming that unused garage into guest space. A little paint, a ventilation system, and a bed can turn that dingy clutter trap into a place your guests would be proud to call home for the evening.
Add a security camera.
Your garage may be protecting your car, but it could be leaving the rest of your home vulnerable. If you want to protect your home from intruders, add a security camera to your space. Motion-activated cameras with lights can be a great deterrent for anyone who might otherwise see your space as an easy target. For more safety tips, read up on the 17 Ways You’re Practically Inviting Burglars into Your Home.
Lay some carpeted stair treads.
According to the CDC, falls are the single greatest cause of injury and death among older Americans. However, something as simple as installing carpeted stair treads on the steps from your garage to your house can make the space safer (and get rid of any of that dirt you might otherwise track into your home).
Add a welcome mat.
A little cheer can go a long way when it comes to transforming your garage. Simply adding a welcome mat before the door into your home can make your garage look more cohesive while giving you a place to wipe those muddy boots before you head indoors.
Create your own gardening shed.
If you’re an avid gardener but don’t want to take up any of your precious green space, transform your garage into the perfect storage space for your tools. Just a few hooks, pegs, and shelves along your garage walls can make it easy to store your tools without taking up much space.
“Remember that your garage should feel like a useful, pleasant extension of your home. It’s OK to invest in attractive shelving and containers even if it is just the garage!” says Socci.
Install a new door into your home.
While you may have considered replacing your garage’s exterior door, doing the same for the door into your house may yield just as much improvement to your space. Replace the existing door with a more ornate one, or simply spruce it up with a coat of paint and a new knob for an easy means of transforming your house.
Scrub your windows.
Garage windows tend to get dirtier than virtually any other pane of glass in your house, so make sure you’re giving them a thorough wipe-down with some frequency.
“Garage windows need cleaning more often than your house windows. Sure, you can power wash or hose off the outside, but if regularly cleaning the inside of the garage windows is a deal-breaker for you, hang them with attractive hose-able vinyl shades or blinds so the dirt is not so noticeable,” says Gianna.
Soundproof the space.
If turning on your car in your garage (with the door open, of course!) is loud enough to wake up the rest of the house, consider investing in some soundproofing foam. This easy-to-use material doesn’t require a contractor to install—all it takes is a nail or staple gun—but can make your space quieter and reduce temperature fluctuations.
Create a wrapping station.
Sick of your kids finding their presents when you store them in the house? Create a wrapping station in the garage instead. Not only can this reduce clutter, but it can give you a much-needed break from the holiday stress inside your home.
This is an especially good idea if you’re hoping to sell your home in the near future. “Make it an area that buyers don’t want to rush through, but rather imagine themselves spending time there for projects, with specific areas designated for tasks,” says real estate agent Sheila MacDonald of J Barrett & Company.
Stop storing things over your car.
While the rafters over your car may seem like a perfect space to store things that won’t fit inside your house, doing so may actually put your car in peril.
“Keeping the pathways and areas above and around your vehicles clear and hazard free is important! Low hanging storage, things piled and propped along the walls, and sharp objects are all potentially damaging to your car body and tires,” says Gianna. After all, even the most careful homeowners will accidentally drop something on their vehicle from time to time, so when in doubt, stick to the walls for storage, not the ceiling.
Install a permanent doorstop.
Instead of trying to prop the door between your garage and home open when you’re carrying groceries inside, add a permanent doorstop instead. For just a few dollars and a few minutes of your time, adding a permanent doorstop can make your space infinitely more useful.
Add a set of metal lockers.
Want to make your garage better-organized without sacrificing your style? Add some metal lockers. Not only can lockers help hide those clothes, accessories, and sports equipment that might otherwise clutter your space, but they can also add a hint of vintage charm to an otherwise drab space.
Section off the space.
Instead of tackling your garage as a single project, divide and conquer. Sectioning off your space into room for your car, room for your hobbies, and room for storage can help you keep each part of your garage neater and better-organized.
“Make a decision to edit, sort, and organize once and for all. Then, pile up similar items: car stuff, sports stuff, tools, garden things, etc. Go through each type of thing item by item and consider if you have used it for the last year. Did you use it for any season? If you haven’t used it for a year, why do you have it? It’s OK to keep things, just make sure you know why… and that you have decided it’s worth the valuable real estate it’s taking up,” says Socci.
Add a car lift.
OK, so this is super expensive and possible pie-in-the-sky, but if you want to double the amount of space in your garage, consider installing a lift system for your car. A car lift means you can store two cars in a single garage or use the newly-opened floor space for those hobbies you don’t have space for inside your home.
Install a screen door for ventilation.
Your other entrances have screen doors, so why not do the same for your garage? Adding some mesh screens to the inside of your garage can help you enjoy a more pleasant temperature inside your garage while keeping pests out.
Stop treating your garage like a makeshift pantry.
As much as you might want to, treating your garage like additional kitchen space is a bad move in the long run.
“The garage is not a dumping ground,” said Gianna. “If you must keep (appropriate) items stored in your garage, a neat rack and bin system will make finding what you need and keeping it intact and usable a cinch. Storing food, paper (books!), clothing, delicate items, or anything adversely affected by dirt, bugs, and fluctuating temperatures not only ruins your stuff but also keeps you from using your garage appropriately.”
Use the space to create a home office.
According to Gallup research, more than 43 percent of American workers polled said they were allowed to work from home at least part of the time. And with the uptick in remote work, more people need a home office than ever before. But you don’t have to add a pricey addition to your house to get the home office of your dreams. With a mini-split for heating and cooling, some paint, and a few pieces of office furniture, you can easily turn your garage into a usable workspace in no time. For inspiration, see the converted garaged where author William F. Buckley wrote all of his books!
Install a slat wall.
Want to make your garage more attractive and more storage-friendly in one fell swoop? Add some slatted boards on your walls. Slat walls make it easy to hang hooks and storage shelves without damaging the walls themselves and provide a more attractive look than your average drywall.
Make an unused garage into a game room.
While your house may not have space for a traditional game room, you can find plenty of place to play pool and throw those darts in the garage. If you don’t use it to store your car, why not transform the space into a place where you and your friends can indulge your inner kids without keeping the rest of the family awake?
Limit the amount you store.
Though it may be tempting to store everything you want out of the way in your garage, doing so will make your space look cluttered in the long run.
“Limit what you keep in the garage to stuff that actually supports and enhances the important activities and things in your life,” says Gianna. “These are presumably the things you use most often so keeping them accessible and in good working order will also ensure the garage stays neat and organized.”
Add some pegboard.
Want an easy DIY project that can add massive storage space to your garage? Simply screw some pegboard into the wall. Pegboard is an easy addition to any garage and makes storing those tools that might otherwise clutter your space a breeze. In fact, it’s such an great storage option that designers swear by it—Gianna calls a pegboard system her “personal holy grail.”
Transform your garage into a home gym.
Even if you don’t have room for a gym inside your house, there’s no reason you can’t turn your unused garage into one. A few pieces of exercise equipment, a few mirrors, and a wall-mounted TV will make it easy to get in a workout at home no matter what the workweek throws at you.
Turn a craft cart into tool storage.
Instead of leaving that bulky toolbox lying around, keep those tools accessible (but out of the way) by repurposing a craft cart. These wheeled carts make it simple to move your tools around the space, but they’re less obtrusive than your average storage containers.
Use magnetic knife strips to hang your tools that might get lost.
If you’re always misplacing those nails, screws, and tools, try installing a magnetic knife rack or two on the walls of your garage. These will help you keep your home improvement accessories organized and keep those pesky missing nails from ending up in the worst place possible: your tires.
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