Making the most of your garage
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.