Its Not Just Where You Park Your Car

Photograph by ORG

When most homeowners think about the largest room in their house, the living room, family room, or kitchen are frequently the first spaces to come to mind. Actually, if one were to measure square footage, the room that wins this contest would be the garage.

Most people are not in the habit of using the words “room” and “garage” in the same sentence, but innovations in flooring, cabinet materials and design, and storage accessories and systems are making it possible for your garage to be more than just a catchall for the debris of living. Your garage can be a fun, versatile, and functioning room for your home.

Another concept homeowners are not accustomed to is design for the garage. What usually happens is that the clutter and excess from other rooms of the house and from outdoor seasonal living spaces end up in the garage to allow design goals to be accomplished in those other spaces. Not to mention the fact that the original, primary purpose for the garage was to be a space to store vehicles. It’s possible to achieve multiple goals: vehicle parking, organized storage space, and a functional living space.

Some of the same design principles used in modern kitchen design can be applied to organizing the garage. Today’s home cooks want their appliances handy and easily accessible, but they don’t want them sitting out on the counter in plain view, taking up valuable counter space. Kitchen designers incorporate dedicated small spaces for specific appliances and conceal them behind doors. The same thing can happen in your garage for power tools, sports equipment, car accessories, holiday décor, etc.

The locker room approach means each member of the family has a space for his or her sports stuff. Air compressors for tools can be built into cabinetry. Create a car wash station to hold applicable products. You’ll wash your car more often if it’s easy! And who likes to look at garbage and recycling containers? Get them behind doors while they remain easily accessible.

During the glorious summer and fall months in Wisconsin, people hang out in the garage with friends. It can be an outdoor grilling prep area or the football tailgate zone away from the stadium. It can be a late night, adult socializing space where you don’t wake up the kids and you can feel the beautiful night air. Many homeowners are incorporating islands, bars, and even kegerators into their garage design. Include comfortable, convenient seating for friends so your garage can be a grown-up playroom with a door to the outdoors.

Customizable track storage systems make organizing small tools and sports accessories easy. Baskets to hold bike helmets and accoutrements, tennis balls, garden tools, etc., help keep it all together. Get the bikes off the floor, yet within easy reach. Hang the tools that you use most often in one spot so you know exactly where they are when you need them.

Melamine has come a long way since the 1950s. No longer the cheap material that yellows with age, today’s melamine comes in a large variety of colors and textures. Another advantage to melamine cabinetry is that the engineered material’s stronger structure allows for taller and larger cabinet doors to be incorporated into the garage design, which normally includes taller ceilings and wider storage spaces. Melamine cabinet options are available in many stores, but many customers regret the decision to purchase the materials without the help of a professional design team to guide them on the best way to use the materials. The very slight difference in price between DIY and working with a professional more than makes up for measuring mistakes and inefficient planning common with DIY projects.

Garage organization and design projects come in all sizes and can be customized for all budgets. In addition, the homeowner can start with one or two project areas, and continue to add on as their budget allows. As families grow, and activities and needs increase, the garage can evolve to handle these challenges gradually. You really can have your dream garage!

Chris Schmidt is a design expert and owner of Cabinet City.

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Cabinet City
6649 University Avenue
Middleton, WI 53562