Mak­ing the most of your garage

Montreal Gazette - - Special Feature - JENNIFER COX

The garage has had a bad rap as a strictly util­i­tar­ian stuffy space piled high with odds and ends — and, if you’re lucky, a place to park your car. In many new homes, how­ever, builders, like po­ten­tial buy­ers, are giv­ing this area of the house a new lease on life.

Think shiny epoxy floors that can with­stand traf­fic and the muck of oil and salt, walls cus­tom-fit­ted with pegs and hooks for out­door and sports gear, as well as ef­fi­cient bins that take ad­van­tage of of­ten unused headspace. To­day’s garages are ver­i­ta­ble work­shops, play ar­eas, and even man caves that take on a va­ri­ety of func­tions.

“I’ve had clients use their garages as cigar lounges, poker rooms, gyms, and for sports for their chil­dren,” said Shawn Evans, gen­eral man­ager at Stil De­sign. “I’ve also had peo­ple use them for mud rooms so they can store win­ter boots, coats, and more.”

The first com­po­nent of an ex­pertly-de­signed garage is the floor. This is some­thing that should ide­ally be taken care of prior to mov­ing in, when the room is still clear of clut­ter.

“When peo­ple move into a house they don’t want to take out their stuff again, and they want their floors done prior to de­liv­ery. The con­trac­tors have of­ten given the keys to the owner, and they’ll call me up and ask me to do the floors,” said An­drew Wo­jtczak, owner of Garage Out­fit­ters. “The prod­uct is a water­proof mem­brane that al­lows the contents of win­ter un­der the ve­hi­cle to not pen­e­trate the ground. The ad­van­tage is that you can just hose it down — there’s no salt, de­bris, or cal­cium, and it keeps the floors newer for longer.”

Wall so­lu­tions are next on the to-do’s of a well-or­ga­nized garage.

“We hang up shelves to cre­ate nooks, and we cre­ate stor­age mez­za­nines in ar­eas

“We hang up shelves to cre­ate nooks, and we cre­ate stor­age mez­za­nines ... where there’s ... wasted space.” An­drew Wo­jtczak

such as over the garage door where there’s a huge amount of wasted space,” Wo­jtczak ex­plained. This is where many home­own­ers will store hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions, pa­tio fur­ni­ture, tires, and more. The units can sup­port as much as 1,000 pounds.

“Clients go to high-end places for gar­den fur­ni­ture and don’t want to just throw their cush­ions in a shed for the colder months, so that’s where this type of stor­age comes in handy.”

Panels are then used for tran­si­tional ma­te­ri­als along with ren­o­va­tion items.

“When it’s some­one’s third or fourth house, they tend to have a bud­get for this kind of thing — and they’ll con­sider pan­elling all the walls for stor­age and flex­i­bil­ity but also for cos­met­ics,” Wo­jtczak said. “The pan­elling is water­proof, and we’ll

“I’ve had clients use their garages as cigar lounges, poker rooms, gyms and ... mud rooms...” Shawn Evans

ei­ther panel all the way to the floor or we go up the wall part­way and cre­ate a bor­der with dry rock (also known as ce­ment board). It’s chem­i­cal-coated so it’s water­proof and can re­sist im­pact.”

Th­ese panels are also avail­able with a num­ber of cus­tom­ized op­tions to truly per­son­al­ize the space to the house­hold’s needs.

“A lot of peo­ple just dump stuff in their garage and it be­comes clut­tered, but a hook sys­tem can re­ally clean up your garage and get ev­ery­thing up off the floor,” Shawn Evans said. “There are all dif­fer­ent ac­ces­sories for hockey equip­ment (to air it out), out­door equip­ment (like shov­els and rakes), snow­board­ing and ski­ing, and more.”

Con­dos that come with stor­age lock­ers can also ben­e­fit from a lit­tle or­ga­ni­za­tional TLC. “A lot of peo­ple who move into con­dos lose some liv­ing space (with the tran­si­tion) so it’s im­por­tant to have ev­ery­thing or­ga­nized,” Evans said. “Condo clients need to hang up tires, bikes and more, and can re­ally ben­e­fit from a cus­tom­ized sys­tem.”

Spe­cial­ized garage de­sign­ers, to­gether with con­trac­tors, are break­ing that bor­ing ce­ment mould and turn­ing garages into use­ful, eco­nom­i­cal ar­eas of the home that also boast great re­sale value. So be­fore mov­ing into your new house or condo, con­sider a garage sys­tem that’s right for you.


Wall panels with hook sys­tems can be used to take a lot of clut­ter off the garage floor; bikes, lad­ders and golf bags, for ex­am­ple, can be stored in such a way that they are safe and out of the way.

Cab­i­nets, a sink, and a spe­cially treated floor go a long way to­ward al­low­ing home­own­ers to use an at­tached garage like this one as a mud room of sorts.

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