16 Ways to Make the Garage Your New Favorite Room in the House

Need more living space? Before you consider an addition, take a look at the garage. This often-underused space can offer up lots of potential uses, from crafting area to home office to workout room and more. Here, see 16 formerly dark and dreary garages transformed into bright and comfortable rooms.

By: Amanda Lecky
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Fun and Multifunctional

To give a family in Santa Monica, California, the multipurpose guest house/screening lounge they’d dreamed of, the design team at Spazio LA turned to an unexpected place: the four-car garage. "We converted half of the space while leaving the other half as a two-car garage," said the designers. "The space now includes a full screening room, a bar-kitchenette, a full bathroom and a Murphy bed for overnight guests."

Home Office Update

"We had been using our garage as a dumping ground for tools, lawn equipment, toys and discarded furniture for years," says designer Suzanne Dingley of Suzanne Dingley Interiors. But when her husband started his own business, the couple realized they had the perfect spot for a home office. They installed new windows, doors, floors, drywall, lights and insulation. "The garage had a peaked ceiling with rafters, which we chose to make a feature to bring some character to an otherwise rectangular box." Replacing the overhead garage door with two sets of French doors brought in light and charm.

Make Room for Crafting

Replacing your traditional ceiling-mount garage door opener with a wall-mount model, like the LiftMaster Elite Series 8500W, can open up new possibilities for your garage by freeing up valuable ceiling space. Here, a bulky kayak was moved from the floor to above the garage door, making room for a fun, colorful craft area the whole family can enjoy. LiftMaster's MyQ smartphone app lets you monitor and control your garage door no matter where you are, so you can rest assured your belongings are safe.

Indoor-Outdoor Flow

"This living space was created with flexibility in mind," says architect Jennifer Martin of the cozy-cool hangout space she created for a family in Arroyo Grande, California. "Polished concrete floors give the room maximum durability but a finished look, and the door openers are both sleek and quiet."

Grandkids’ Haven

"Our client was a lovely retired grandmother looking for a space to do projects with her grandchildren," says designer Tritia Gustine of Beach Bungalow Designs. "We added fun colors like yellow, orange and green to brighten up the once-dark garage make it a welcoming kid fun zone."

Outdoor “Addition”

"When our client decided they needed more space, we took an unusual approach," says designer Kerrie Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab. "We transformed their dated garage and turned it into a family-oriented lounge full of color and personality. The white rafters and ceiling keep it feeling open and spacious while the stripes add a fun sophistication. The new garage door even lets in natural light!"

Lofty Project

It’s hard to imagine now, but this charming living space was once an unassuming commercial garage. To make the most of the compact, 1,260-square-foot space (including an upstairs loft area), Frazier Associates minimized the number of walls within. Exposed brick walls and concrete flooring on the first floor were retained and a new staircase, crafted of reclaimed wood and metal railing, was designed for access to the second floor. "Providing more natural light was the biggest design challenge," say the designers. "A new recessed patio was designed behind the historic garage doors to allow for more light on the first floor, as well as to create a front entrance and a small exterior seating area."

Revved-Up Retreat

The owner of this multipurpose space wanted to use his garage for more than just vehicle storage. Designer Jeanne L. Griggs treated the room—which houses workout equipment, a dog kennel with outdoor access and space for two cars—to a mix of rich details, including custom cabinetry, a stainless steel refrigerator, granite countertops and a TV and sound system for workout entertainment.

Raising the Bar

Sure, a freestanding garage is a convenient spot for storage—but why not make it a mini getaway? Here, Erin Bucy of Holland Remodeling & Building converted a garage into a fun and funky tiki bar using simple outdoor materials on the walls and some bright splashes of paint to add energy.

Flexibility Works

"This garage remodel was designed for a UCLA professor who wanted a stylish home office," says Ron Cohen, CEO of Pearl Remodeling. "Because of zoning restrictions at the time of the remodel, we could not legally convert the garage into a living space, so we kept the garage door operational and updated the interior so it could still be enjoyed as a workspace. We installed new drywall on all walls and ceiling, and light-colored flooring and paint to brighten up the room. Open shelving with complementary decor give this study a modern touch with lots of room to personalize the space."

Room for Teens

"We sold our big house with a bonus room 15 years ago so that we could afford to start over and do what we love for a living," says designer Christina Britt Lewis of The Redesign Company. "This is a choice we never regret, but we make big boys and they have big friends. When they needed more space, we redesigned our garage. We used what we already had—a ping pong table we bartered for, the twin beds our teenage boys had outgrown for seating—and saved by considering it a three-season space and not installing heat or air conditioning. We hung trail maps of mountains we have conquered and set lists from concerts we loved in cheap frames for 'art' that brings back fun family memories."

Drive-In Theater

In sunny Florida, there’s often no need to keep the car inside the garage—which leaves this space open for creative conversion. Here, the team at B + G Design transformed a Miami garage into a luxurious home theater, complete with upholstered seating, dramatic lighting and colorful artwork to brighten the space when there’s nothing on screen.

Resale Redo

Sometimes, real estate brokers have to get creative to market a house. "This home in Oakland, California, was a tiny two-bedroom of about 900 square feet," says Jennifer Montague Clark of The Home Co. "To maximize resale value, we felt we had to show buyers the garage’s untapped potential. We painted it white to emphasize how light and bright it was, then staged a day bed and game table to illustrate potential uses." Take these tips to your own home (whether it’s for sale or not): A fresh coat of paint works wonders, as do some colorful furnishings and accessories—no major investment required.

Modern Farmhouse Chic

To give a converted garage the modern-farmhouse style their clients craved, the team at Spazio LA specified built-in media cabinets with sliding doors and black barn-door hardware. A retractable projection screen and a popcorn maker help create a cozy and welcoming space, perfect for movie nights.

Planning Ahead

"Some of the best garage conversions are those that take long-term uses and versatility into account," says Ron Cohen, CEO of Garage Conversions. "By creating a space that is updated, modern and yet leaves plenty of room for changes, you really can't lose." One essential, says Cohen: glass doors to let in plenty of natural light.

Hold the Door

Some designers opt to replace the original overhead doors with sliding or French doors during a garage conversion. But here designer Noz Nozawa of Noz Design opted to reference the previous identity of the space—while maximizing brightness—by specifying garage doors with clear panels. Simple natural materials, a richly patterned area rug and plenty of greenery create a welcoming indoor-outdoor flow.

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