In many homes across America, the garage is nothing more than a place to put the car or truck for the night. It is a place with the sole purpose of parking and has little use beyond that. The garage is a dirty, cold, utilitarian place—not to mention an afterthought. Well, the garage can be so much more with a little imagination and DIY gumption. Don’t forget—the garage is a building with walls and a roof. It’s an enclosed space that you can use for basically anything you want. A free-standing garage is a building unto itself that has limitless possibilities and uses. Get that imagination going and dream of the things to put in your garage instead of a car.
Lawnmowers and Tractors
Even if you don’t want to park your cars in the garage, it can still be a useful place. Big heavy vehicles with engines and wheels are more than just cars and trucks. Use the garage to store your lawnmower, garden tools, and snowblower. Make your garage into a garden center that you keep all your yard tools and equipment in. Set up a workbench to do yearly maintenance on the yard tractor and snowblower. Put hooks and pegboards up along the walls to store rakes, shovels, hoes, and all your other tools. Organizing the tools will make them easier to get at when you need them.
Big, Loud Toys
People that live in the country or have a lot of land like to be out in nature whenever possible. If you happen to be one of those people, odds are you have some toys to enjoy that land with. Use your garage to store those ATVs, dirt bikes, Gators, and fast-moving toys. The garage is a perfect place to keep those toys safe from rain, wind, and horrible weather. You will also have a place to work on them. Keep some spare parts in the garage along with the toys, so you can fix them right away and keep enjoying them.
The sad thing is, most people do this already. The garage gets treated like a dumping ground for all the junk people don’t know what to do with. But you don’t have to go down that road. You can put your stuff in the garage and use it as a storage space—just do it right. There is an ocean of storage and organization products on the market to help you maximize every inch of space in your garage. Put up heavy-duty shelves for Halloween and Christmas decorations. Hang hooks from the ceiling for bikes. Stack plastic containers full of old clothes waiting for donation. You can make your garage into an organized storage space, not just a landfill for useless junk.
Think of your garage as a blank canvas, and you’re the artist. Convert your garage into a usable space of your liking. Because it has a concrete floor, a roof, walls, electricity, and some insulation it’s almost a house. The only thing it’s missing is plumbing, so you’re almost there already. Think about what it is you need out of your garage and formulate a plan to get it there.
A full conversion doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars and take months to accomplish. Start out small with a few additions or renovations, such as putting in insulation. Most garages only have insulation in the attic space, so add some to the walls and keep a more even temperature year-round. After you do a few of the smaller things, move onto the big stuff to bring your vision to life.
Hobbyist Work Shop
If you are a hobbyist, woodworker, or part-time machinist, convert your garage into a workshop. The wide-open space will let you set things up just the way you want to. Set up your tools, workbench, and some shelves around the perimeter. Then, in the middle, there’s room for a large table for working on projects. Put it at a height that is comfortable depending on if you plan on standing or sitting at it. Having a space dedicated to your hobby will free up space in the house. You will have all your materials and tools in one place, and you will know where they are when you want them.
Efficient Living Space
Maybe you aren’t too handy, or you don’t have any hobbies; that’s fine, and you can still find use for your garage. If your family is outgrowing the house, you can turn the garage into a studio apartment. Put in some plumbing and any other utilities you need first, then start finishing things. Adding insulation and drywall will make it feel less like a garage almost immediately. Install some kitchen cabinets, countertops, and a sink for a kitchenette. If there isn’t an outside entrance, you’ll want to cut a hole in the wall and add a heavy door. Make the space livable and comfortable, so whoever is out there will feel at home.
Oddly enough, people tend to congregate in the garage—especially the guys. There’s something about hanging out in the garage, having a few drinks, and shooting the breeze. If people are already in there, convert the garage into a party spot. You don’t need to crazy on comforts, either—just a few basics will be enough for the garage crew. Get a couple of TVs to hang on the walls, a refrigerator, a few couches, and you’re done. Having everyone in the converted garage to watch the game or race will keep the traffic and mess out of your house. Once the crew has left, open the overhead door and sweep the mess right outside.
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