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Want an Extra Room? Consider Transforming Your Garage

If you are at all like my family, your garage has never stored a car. Ok maaaaybe once. But really it’s a place to store your excess “stuff” and it’s actually kinda a missed opportunity when you think about it. Yes, there are things like seasonal decorations, boxes of family photos, random piles of tools, discarded drum sets, and ALL of the sports gear from seasons’ past that need a place to live (or *cough* be donated). But in a time when home feels like the only true safe zone, separate “zones” are more desired than ever. Maybe it’s a place to escape when you need a little alone time, a separate common area to gather, or an extra room for a family member who just moved in? Guys, your garage could be the answer to your “lack of needed square footage” prayers.

Now as someone who was raised in California and then only lived in major cities where apartment buildings were the only housing options around, I was naive to what people who live with real weather do with their garages. Was transforming a garage only conceivable for people who live in temperate climates?? I obviously didn’t know so I had to expose my lack of knowledge to my go-to midwestern friend, Dan. This was my text:

Question for you from your dumb CA friend. Do people in snowy climates use their garages for car storage during the winter or do they just leave their cars in the driveway?

After apparently laughing for a solid minute (I think Dan is starved for real humor), he graciously answered by saying that it’s a mixed bag. Some people do use their garages for their cars, especially if they have nicer cars that they want to protect from the elements. Otherwise, a lot of people just use their driveways. He also noted that since most homes in snowy/cold climates have basements they act as that “separate space” to get away in. OK DAN, I get it, cold weather people are super cool with their awesome basements. Not. Jealous.

But here in California basements are a rarity and if we want an extra room but not the square footage to add, our garages are the top contender. Now, this post was actually born out of looking at the work of the super talented Shanty Wijaya of Allprace (Yep, the same designer responsible for this home). I noticed that in all of the projects she sent me, she transformed each of those properties’ garages into non-storage, useable spaces. It’s kind of a sneaky, genius signature move. So who better to chat with to get all of the tips and tricks to know how to transform your “catch-all space” into an extra oasis.

Why have you chosen to turn the garages of the houses you flip into rooms that people can use for bedrooms, game rooms, offices, etc.?

“For functionality, healthy lifestyle, additional income potential (via Airbnb/rental income potential), and additional flex spaces. Based on my experience, many LA homeowners opt to have an ADU (for Airbnb/rental income potential) or a rec room instead of a car garage. When designing/building all of our projects, we always strive to add value to the house for the prospective homeowners to enjoy. We also believe in the mental-physical health benefit of indoor-outdoor living. By converting and thoughtfully designing a garage into an ADU, we increase the sqft of the home and the potential rental/Airbnb income to help with the homeowner’s mortgage payment. These add tremendous value to the future homeowner. By converting and thoughtfully designed the garage into a rec room, we add flex space to the house and we normally design and incorporate this space as part of indoor-outdoor living. Also, extra space and sqft with a thoughtful design always add property value.”

Hot Tip

ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) has a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, HVAC system and a permit is required. A recreational room (rec room) is an extra space that can be used as a game room, office, etc without bathroom/kitchen and not intended to be used as a bedroom but a permit is also required. - Shanty

What makes you decide to turn a garage into a bedroom vs a fun bar/communal structure? 

“They’re many variables to be considered in making that decision. For example, there’s zoning, foundation, the overall design, and the lifestyle concept we aimed to achieve in each of our projects. When converting the garage, we always aim first to convert into ADU.”

Jess here! That makes the most sense since creating an ADU will get you the greatest return… but it does require the most money. Let’s take a look at a couple of Shanty’s projects to see her thought process and chat more.

Project WeHo (West Hollywood for Non Locals:))

Can you give me a quick overview of this project?

“The lot is sloped and small, only 3200sqft, which is the norm in the West Hollywood Norma Triangle neighborhood. We extensively remodeled, added sqft to the main house to become a 1600sqft house, a small heated pool/spa, and converted the dilapidated 1 car garage into a pool house/bar.”

“We decided to convert the 1 car garage into a pool house/bar with a bathroom. It sits next to a newly built small heated pool/spa. The city of West Hollywood allowed the bathroom inside the pool house with the proper permit. This pool house and small grassy courtyard which is facing the driveway created a much-needed separation between the 2 car driveway and the backyard pool area. Cars can also be parked on the street and this gated driveway can be used as a free flow extra entertainment area.”

Jess again. Clearly this was a HUGE job but man was it a transformation with so much thought put into it. I love that they had the idea of making part of the extra-long driveway a potential entertaining space as you enter into the back of the home. And since it would be cruel to not show you the inside, here are some pictures…

That wood ceiling adds SO MUCH texture to what could have easily just been a plain white box.

Another one of Shanty go-to’s that I’ve noticed is she incorporates skylights in almost every bathroom. If you are renovating, you should 100% consider one (Emily is equally a fan). Also, you can’t see but there is a door that goes directly into the bathroom from the pool area. Again, thoughtful design always wins.

For these next two projects, the purpose was to refinish the spaces into rec rooms/possible garages which could be far more DIYable if you are up for it…

Project Cimarron

“This was not a garage conversion. We just remodeled the existing back structure into a finished garage with polished concrete, ceiling, walls, and replaced the existing doors as well as added in custom-built carriage garage doors. The glass carriage doors provide access for cars to go inside the finished garage when the homeowner chooses to use this space as car garage in the future.”

Here is the “Before”… I KNOW IT’S INSANE.

Shanty also mentioned that in both this and the next project that the idea of indoor/outdoor living was a huge part of the overall design. However, what I love is that this new structures can easily be closed off so if someone needs some alone time it’s not a problem. Quarantine dreams amiright??

Now I had a few more general questions.

For someone who is considering transforming their garage what is your advice? Any must-knows or experiences you’ve learned from?

“Go to the city and check all the requirements and confirm eligibility. For example, but not limited to zoning, parking requirement, property setback, garage foundation, etc.

  • For ADU conversion, hire a professional. At the end of the day it will save more time and money than DIY.
  • For a rec room and finished garage, you might be able to DIY but first, always do thorough due diligence. 

For example, most LA homes are older homes and many older home’s garages don’t have a foundation/proper foundation, and this will add significant cost to the project.” 

What is the average price for making a garage into a room?

“It varies depending on existing garage condition, finishes, material, the complexity of the design, etc.

For an ADU: We get many requests from homeowners to build a new ADU building or a garage conversion into ADU (bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, HVAC), and based on our average price all included is around $250/sqft. This includes design, plan, permit, project management, construction, and our finishes.

For a rec room: Plan and permitting are still required but DIY construction is possible depending on how adventurous you are! But again, price is very subjective depending on existing garage conditions, finishes, material, the complexity of the design, whether you DIY or hire professional, etc.”

Sidenote. Do I spy with my little eye a hammock?? The new EHD favorite relaxation decor tool? Yes, yes I do. If you are in the market head here.

Project Baywood

What are some ways to save?

“The majority of the budget will be in construction, planning, and the permitting process. For me, to save money, time, and headaches in this project scale is to do a thorough inspection and research. Go to the city and hire the right people who can do all of it.”

Remember our design mistake post: when to hire and when to diy?? Sounds like unless you really know what you are doing, hiring might be the way to go to get your dream garage getaway and not to completely drive yourself (and loved ones) nuts:)

Any products/materials that you’d recommend?

“I love carriage doors for garage conversions for the design purposes, light source and it offers flexibility for car access whenever you want to use it again as the car garage.”

For garage door sourcing, do you have any recommendations where people could look for similar kinds?

“For carriage doors, we always use wood and custom-built them. Any woodworker/carpenter can do it. It’s pretty easy.

For interior doors, go to Home Depot, Lowes, or any door/windows stores. They surprisingly carry countless door styles. Ask for the catalogs of all the door brands they carry. For a unique design, most of them are in the catalog and have to be special order.”

Well, now that we have all of her secrets we should be all set. Just kidding she is VERY good at her job (clearly) and I hope that you’ve learned about a few new things to consider if you are wanting to throw out most of that garage junk and have another room to call dibs on.

But I HAVE TO know. Do you agree with Dan? Are garages used as much in say, Ohio (Dan’s homeland), as they are in California? If you live in a cold climate would you consider making your garage another room to hang out in or is your basement (if you have one) all the extra space you need? Have you tried to DIY your garage with success and have more hot tips for us? Let’s talk in the comments!

Love you, mean it.

Designs by Shanty Wijaya of Allprace Properties
Photos of first home by Jessica Alexander
Photos of Project WeHo by Virtually Here Studios
Photos of Project Cimarron and Project Baywood by Tessa Neustadt


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79 thoughts on “Want an Extra Room? Consider Transforming Your Garage

  1. I live in Maine and yes we absolutely park cars in the garage. In fact after a couple of winters of being late to work from scraping an inch of ice off my windshield our garage is what really sold us on our house! But we get a lot of heavy, wet snow and freezing rain- parking cars in the driveway turns it into a sheet of ice that lingers for months when you drive over it. I sometimes wish we lived somewhere with a less intense winter but our summers make up for it! Everyone also has basements but they can be kind of damp.

    1. its funny ours at the mountain house is too small for most modern cars (plus we put in stairs for interior access to the house) but we also have snow in the winter. so we might have to build a, READY FOR IT??? Carport. First sheds. The garage storage, now Carport??!!!!

      1. I’ve wanted a carport for years! I get lake effect snow (but we’re far enough from the lake to not get much ice, fortunately), but we haven’t used our garage for cars, ever. The cars don’t really fit (made for a smaller, single car), and the driveway is so long – even if we could park them, there’d just be more to shovel!
        I’ve cleaned out the back of ours to be a “potting shed”, but the main portion is basically a dumping ground for all our home/yard improvement stuff.

      2. Hahaha 🤣 I reckon, quit the sheds, enclose the nook. Build a carport to blend in with the house and getstuck into that garage refurb and organization and give us a geezer (Aussie for look at it)!

      3. Go Team Carport!! It’s been my absolute favorite. It forces you to actually use it for your cars, it’s perfect for storm watching or just hanging out under some string lights. LOVE my carport.

      4. Now THAT would be a good post…how to DIY your own cute carport. (Please do one, because we need a carport.)

        1. Yes, please!! We have a carport original to our 1939 home and being in the rainy PNW, it is soooo nice to be able to not get wet walking from house to car and vice versa. And my art studio is accessed under the carport so even through our rainy winters, I can still get outside to varnish paintings. As ours stands it isn’t too bad (hubby added new posts not long after we moved in last year), but it will eventually get a makeover. Would love to see you tackle well designed carports! I hold out hope that it is possible. 😉

  2. No way would I make my Northern Minnesota garage an extra room, although we also don’t park in it. (Too small so yes we both shovel out our car after every storm all winter long ) It would cost a lot to heat in winter so would need to be as well insulated and constructed as the house to be practical. Also we have mosquitoes and bugs galore so it would need to be screened and very tightly built to work in the summer if you didnt want to feel like you are camping. We made a lounge and art studio in our basement instead.

  3. Chicagoan here! We def use garages to park cars. If you’ve ever had to dig your car out after a 10” of snow followed by a thaw cycle followed by a freeze cycle…garage parking starts to look like heaven itself. Plus most garages aren’t built with enough insulation to be heatable during winter months.

    That said, people will often use their garages as flex space esp when entertaining in warmer months like to line up your buffet tables so your food’s not in the 90 degree sun with flies swarming on it. So there’s certainly an opportunity to do more attractive finishes, lighting and doors for that kind of use! And just bc you have to walk thru it every day and most garages are kind of ugly!

      1. we want to. We are sitting on an awesome basement makeover of one of my best friends in portland but have to hold it for a month for a magazine (not my design/work). So stay tuned. I’m also starting my friends windowless basement soon. So many people have
        ”unthoughtabout’ basements so lets make them rad … xxx

        1. We are finishing 950 sf of unfinished basement right now and I am using your Portland media room and wet bar as my inspiration – love the look but having to figure out a more budget version. Looking forward to having it all done by the end of summer.
          On a similar note for your basement post, we are making one room as a guest bedroom, but it has no windows. We can’t legally call it a bedroom due to building code, but I’d love to see your ideas for decorating a windowless room 🙂

    1. When I lived in Chicago as a young adult, renter, I kept a snow shovel and bag of rock salt in my trunk for digging out of parallel street parking spots!

    2. Ya it would cost a pretty penny to insulate AND heat in the winters. But I love the idea of making a garage more “entertaining-friendly” for warmer months!

  4. I live in the midwest and in my area people definitely tend to use their garages for cars. It is common to see one car parked in the garage and the other half used for storage of things that you don’t want to store in your basement, which most homes have.

    1. That’s what we did for the 12 years we lived in Cleveland. The garage was just a little too small to fit 2 cars, built in 1941.

  5. Minnesotan here and if you have a garage you use it in winter. No way would someone choose to park in the driveway and scrape off ice every morning.

    However, I have noticed that in summer a lot of people park in the driveway and then use their garage as a workspace. Bring out all the tools and use the space while it’s nice out!

    A basement post would be awesome. We have a long narrow basement (11′ x 27′) with a inset and gas line ready for a fireplace on one end. It’s a big space but weird to design!

  6. We used to park in our garage—southern Ohio here. Then we put an addition on our house and stored everything in the garage for a year while we built and finished it. We need to do a major garage clean out and dump some prospective projects that I don’t have time for now. In general though, we get ice and snow storms but most everything closes and cancels so I don’t have to scrape my car immediately. I do prefer to park in the garage.

  7. One thought for my fellow midwesterners – if you’re converting or building new, you can do garage/ADU combos (if your municipality and neighborhood zoning allow them)! Many newer developments have density maximums, which essentially ban ADUs. I live in an older neighborhood which is more dense, and a number of my neighbors have either added on to an existing garage to create an ADU, or if building new have constructed a two story garage, where the second floor is set up as a studio apartment or mother-in-law suite.

  8. Coloradoan here – we have snow in the winter and hail in the summer, so there’s no way I wouldn’t use the garage for our cars. I guess you could leave them outside in the fall and spring? We finished our basement a few years ago and it has been a lifesaver. Our finished square footage doubled and now we have two guest rooms, a full bathroom, a playroom for the kids, and a family room down there.

  9. I mean…. I’m in the DC metro area. and YES I PARK IN THE GARAGE. It’s really annoying when people here don’t park in their garages, and use valuable parking spaces for themselves because they have too much stuff. I live in a townhouse, and the community here really did not design for extra parking spaces for guests, so I’m super annoyed with those who have 2 car garages, and don’t park in their own driveway, instead park in valuable parking spaces used for guests.

    1. Too. Much. Stuff.
      We need to think before we buy more stuff!

      P l a s t i c – f i l l e d w h a l e c a r c a s s w a s h e d u p o n a b e a c h … OMG!!!

      We need to wake up and BE OUR WORD … WALK OUR TALK!

    2. Agreed. I live in an apartment building but even the “normal” houses in my neighborhood often don’t have garages, and rarely even have driveways. The area is only somewhat welll served by public transit, so you can imagine that parking is a PROBLEM. I have a friend who will literally get her groceries delivered if she manages to find a parking spot within five blocks of her apartment, because she refuses to move her car! Yet the owners of the million dollar homes still have to park their Teslas and Lexuses in the friggin street for reasons I am too poor to understand.

  10. I grew up in, and lived a majority of my life so far, in cold climates with snow. Having a garage for your car is an absolute luxury. I hated living in an apartment in Cleveland where I had to scrape 6-12″ of snow off my car every single time I wanted to use it, for 5 months of the year. Also, when it’s really cold outside, a garage keeps the car warmer so it will start more easily.

    I now have lived in Seattle for 20 years and we have an attached 2-car garage at our town home. Our allowed parking spaces are: 2 in the garage, and 2 in the driveway. For us and our guests. When we first moved in, we had extra furniture that it took 2 years to coax the kids into taking (their own bedroom furniture from the Cleveland house). My husband would park in the driveway. One morning he came out to go to work, and saw someone running away from his car, the passenger door open, and a trail of papers on the ground. You never saw someone clear out a garage so quickly. We live in a nice neighborhood in a nice suburb, but we have had several car thefts and things stolen from cars in our neighborhood throughout the time we’ve lived here. Still, though, some people just have to fill their garages with so much stuff there’s no room for a car- maybe barely room to walk through to get into the house.

    I know garages aren’t really necessary in a lot of climates, and I think these projects you show are really nice! But I also think Americans have some kind of disease of having too much crap, and it ends up in the garage, basement, back yard.

    By the way, I am not a basement lover! They are usually cold, damp, creepy places for unwanted water and pests of all kinds. Necessary in the Midwest where the frostline must be considered for foundations, and handy for tornado sheltering, but not to be envied, in my opinion!

  11. Do people with converted garages not DIY? Do they DIY in the blazing sun or is there a large shed situation I’m missing? Moving to Central TX from the Midwest, it was super important for us to have a garage that could be used for cars and messy projects. More than half the homes in our neighborhood have converted garages (truly because they need the living space) and it drives me crazy because all their cars are now parked in the street leaving one lane for traffic. These flips are so lovely, but converted garages are one of my least favorite things. Oops.

  12. Jess, thiscis an inspiring post! I’d love to have seen arange of designers’ takes on how they do it, rather than only one. Isthisa sponsored post and I missed it?
    Beautiful work and great pics to get us all thinking about spaces that could be upcycled! 🙂

    In Australia, we don’t have basements due to the climate bring like LA, almost everywhere except Tasmania and the snowfields. (Australia is the same size as the USA minus Alaska)
    That said, we call ADU-like buildings “Granny Flats” and this business is booooooming!!!
    Most suburbs country wide, have largish hlocks, e.g. we’re 5 kilometres from the city by walking across the river/bridge and our block is average size @ 700 square metres. We could build a self-contained granny flat in our backyard with two bedrooms, easy peasy.
    A lot of specialized companies do only granny flats and have pre-approval designsthat meet the vast majority of local government regulations, but most renovation companies do granny flats too.
    It’s a BIG trend and a lot of families start off with elderly parents in the granny flat and later use them as an airbnb (until Covid-19 stopped all that).

    BTW: JUNGALOW’S Justina Blakeney’s made over LA garage is a fabulous example! She’s turned it into a chill space, complete with jungalicious kitchen, outdoor shower … gorgeous!

    1. Hi Rusty! No this was not a sponsored post. After we featured Shanty’s latest project (the one at the beginning of the post) she sent me a few of her other past projects. After looking at them I realized each one had a converted garage and thought it would be a fun post to interview someone with a ton of experience while showing off her hard work:)

      And I feel SO SILLY that I had no idea that Justina’s space was a garage!! I’ve admired those photos for so long and never looked into it (palm to face). I swear that woman has endless talent!

  13. A garage is a necessity for parking cars in Iowa. Removing that option would significantly decrease the home’s value here. Many areas have covenants that prevent structures/ sheds that are not attached to the home. We love a good screened porch, though!

    1. Yeah, in our neighborhood, (inner city, leafy, suburb near the Perth Zoo), a large tree adds thousands $$$ to the property value!
      When I see the new suburbs, I cringe, coz I’d be lost without all the bird life and critters!

  14. Have you ever lived somewhere like Phoenix? You absolutely want a garage or some protection from the 110 degree heat in the summer. The intense sun will ruin your car’s paint job and make it impossible to even touch the door handle to get in the car.

  15. I live in Northern California and we bought a house in March with a converted garage. I definitely think this is a CA luxury. Almost all of the houses in my rather large neighborhood have very long driveways that follow the edge of the house with a carport at the end and the garage behind the carport, so most people just use their carport. The people who converted the garage did NOT acquire the correct permitting, and we ended up purchasing the house for 20k below asking to compensate us for any potential pushback from the city. Right now it functions as an office/guest room, but eventually we’d like to secure the correct permits and turn it into a master suite.

    1. O wow! Permits are SO important. Keeping my fingers crossed for your future master bedroom!

  16. I’m in Kansas, and while we don’t get a ton of snow, between the freezing rain and storms and tornados and 105° summers, I would never give up my garage 😄. And while we don’t hang out in our basement, we do use it to store things other people might need in their garage.

  17. Another Chicago resident here! This type of reno would not be common in my neck of the woods. Lack of available street parking makes a garage more desirable then another living area (especially considering all the work that would be needed to properly insulate a garage space to qualify as a truly livable space.) Also, garage doors are likely to face an alleyway, which doesn’t make for the most functional living space, prettiest of views or any sort of serenity. And yes, we have basements if you are craving more square footage. Question for the Cali residents – is it relatively straight forward to get a permit where you live? In Chicago, permits are difficult, costly and time consuming – and seem more calculated to serve the interests of the local trade unions then any sort of public safety function. I was recently quoted $20k for just the permit process (not any construction work) for foundation repair on a 2 story house. It’s like they’d prefer that you just let your house fall down…

    1. $20k to get a permit!?! I have zero experience in this department but just makes me angry. I hope that you someone find a way to get a lower quote<3

  18. I grew up in Pennsylvania and everyone used their garages to park their cars. Additionally, everyone I knew had a finished basement. Most of the basements had a kids play area, family room with tv viewing and storage room. Some of them had pool tables or ping pong tables, bar areas and laundry rooms.
    Not having to scrape ice or snow off your windshield in the winter is a true luxury! Funny enough, after living in Philadelphia and DC and not having a garage, I know live in San Francisco and my car is in the parking garage in my building. I laugh at the fact I finally have protected parking but no ice or snow to worry about!

  19. I grew up in Michigan and we never parked our (regular) cars in the garage – very few people I know did. To be fair, for most of my life the garage was my dad’s workshop for his business. He has an off-site workshop now but his garage is mostly his “home workshop” though he does park a project car in there. I’ve owned three homes: one with a two-car attached garage we never parked in (used it as a workshop/storage/hangout zone), one with a detached one-car garage which was just storage and my current house has a carport which is hands down my favorite option.

  20. When I bought my home, my only non-negotiable item was an attached garage. I have no basement for storage, and a tiny 848 sq foot house. But a garage is meant for a car. Especially in the Midwest.
    What little storage I need, I use my attic. It also helps my tiny house has amazing closet space. But I can see how in California, converting a garage might be a smart move. We play a LOT of beer pong in my aunt’s garage Christmas week when we visit her in Cali. So there is that! Ha! Ha!

  21. I currently live in the Bay Area and due to quarantine, the garage is now a home office for 2, a lounge to watch TV, and a home bar. We mounted a big TV, dragged a loveseat out of storage, got a wine fridge, wine rack, drink fridge and now a nugget ice maker. Plus two desks with full monitors and chairs to work on. For fun we installed a disco ball light and white lighted tree branches. We spend 90% of our time here than in house.

  22. Yeah, a garage conversion to living space would never happen in the Midwest. I live in Kansas City so we get 100 degrees in the summer and snow in the winter and parking cars in the garage is the norm. But we would do something like this with our basement. Basements are a much bigger design challenge because they don’t look all bright and airy like this since there is very little natural light.

    1. The little natural light part is rough. But Emily is actually planning on a windowless basement post so stay tuned!

      1. My brother told me about some gizmo that’s been around for a while now, that has a part yhat sits up on the roof and fibre cables that beam real daylight into the room at theend ofthe cable!!
        Kinda like a skylight, but only via the cable?!
        Whoa! 🤔

  23. Maryland here. We DEFINITELY park in our garage no matter the weather. We don’t get a lot of snow here, but we do get all kinds of weather. A garage prevents you from having to unload groceries in the rain, protects your car from falling nuts (on our wooded lot…), and helps your car heat up/cool down faster when it needs to.

    Our garage is still a multi-functional space, though. We have an extra 6-8 feet in the back that is sort of our “shop” space and when we do big DIY projects, and need more space for our tools, we just back the cars out and park on the street.

    We did a large renovation last year and used our garage as a storage unit for several months. We were dying to get it back! I’d never trade it in for more living space. A garage is home utility that can’t be replaced (a room to make shameless messes in, a place for an extra fridge, extra storage). It’s also a luxury to park your car inside. I don’t take having a garage for granted and I’m so glad our house has one.

    1. Maryland here too(Baltimore area) when we moved from the Midwest a decade ago we were SHOCKED at how many homes didn’t have a garage. We made a garage or at least a carport a requirement in our house hunt. Our 1950s rancher has a one car garage that is so narrow that you can’t open both the driver & passenger doors to get out. We ended up using the garage for a whole month having the passenger get out before we pulled in before we just parking in the driveway. About half the homes in the neighborhood were built with garages. And a good 1/2 of those have been converted into extra bedrooms or tv rooms. I wish we would have done a garage conversion when we moved in.

  24. I grew up in northern NY and everyone parked their cars in the garage in winter. The space might be used for boats, tents, trailers and summer sports equip but come fall, all that stuff had to go elsewhere to make room for the cars.
    Here in SoCal, my last place was a townhome and we were required to park our cars in the garage. Just a few spots for guests. Endless HOA parking wars. Sheesh!
    Now I have both a garage and carport. I have laundry, workout space and storage in the garage, car goes in the carport.

  25. I lived in Iowa for 5 years and don’t know that I ever saw a house in our area without a garage! Ours was a detached 2-car garage, but my husband wanted to use half for his woodshop and kindly insisted my car be parked in the open spot.

    Now we live in NJ where many old homes, like ours, have had garages deteriorate over time, and the house gets fixed up but the garage gets torn down. So we have a parking pad, and now I have remote start, which helps but certainly doesn’t replace a garage in the winter! I would venture to guess that most basements (in these older homes) are unfinished, like mine. Now our basement is the woodshop plus additional storage. Can’t imagine turning a garage into living space in as populated an area as New Jersey!

  26. Having lived in MA for 32 years, I definitely used my garage to park my car. Way too much snow to shovel in the morning, and scraping ice off the windshield. In my house I had a basement to store “junk” and once I moved into a townhouse, I stored stuff around the edges of the garage. Here in CA we rent so had to get rid of a lot of stuff/junk.

  27. Great post! Super fun to see the before and after photos. Chicago gal here too so as has been noted – we are all about a garage and basement. Garages are usually only for cars in the snowy midwest. When we rehabbed our home we converted our former impractical two car tandem garage/coach house to a bar and screened in porch and added a new two car garage. So I am a big fan of finding a new way to use garage space. Looking forward to the basement post!

  28. We have always lived in snowy areas and use the garage for cars. Scraping ice off windshields in freezing temps is NOT fun! Once summer comes, we use the garage for a project or two, then immediately get the cars back in. In western PA, most houses have basements yet we have noticed more people hanging large flat screen TVs in their garage. Makes us laugh! They might have a finished basement, but will sit in their basic garage on lawn chairs watching their sports teams, no matter the weather!

  29. These are lovely, but if I were lucky enough to have a garage I would damn well park my car in it, and not have to scrape ice and shovel snow. I’m in northern Indiana, and we have plenty of both. My house is the only one on the block that does not have a garage; two seem to be used for junk, and everyone else parks in theirs. I have considered adding a one-car garage (it could be small, since I drive a Honda Fit), but the lot is small–the houses mostly date from the 1920s when lots were much narrower–and I would need a variance. So my car just has to take the weather.
    I do have a basement, but it is a dank, unfinished cave that holds the furnace, water heater, washer, dryer, necessary dehumidifier, and the remains of my past lives. I don’t spend more than five minutes down there unless the tornado sirens are screaming

  30. I have a question regarding the “rec room” garages. We have a garage that could easily convert to something similar to those last two, however what we currently struggle with with our doors is the space at the bottom of the door (there’s about a 1/2”-1”) and so when our Yard Maintenence company comes each week, I feel like a lot of dirt and leaves make their way thru that space. I noticed in the last picture, their doors also have this space showing. How is it possible to avoid debris making its way into the garage? I would hate to spend the time and money making ours over, only to have a dirty space constantly. Thank you!

    1. My husband bought a rubber band/sticky bar (sorry – I’m not describing it well) off of Amazon that goes the length of the garage door and blocks that stuff (and little animals) from getting in. It’s really helped keep out the rain too.

  31. Hi Emily! Love this idea! Do you know what was the black paint color of the exterior walls? I am planning to paint our house some dark color. Thanks!

  32. I am a Canadian who also lived in Chicago for 5 years and I have NEVER parked my car in the garage! I know that my Midwestern neighbours were very keen on it but I always have so much STUFF in mine! If u convert your garage to living space where does all the stuff go? Lawnmowers, weed whackers, sprinklers, soil, gardening supplies, hoses, ladders, power washer, off-season patio furniture storage, outdoor Xmas decor… I don’t want to be schlepping all that dirty stuff down to my lovely finished basement! Love the look of these finished garages tho!

  33. Well this is randomly perfect timing! We recently decided to purchase a sauna because we didn’t have access to one for so long, so the only viable space is the garage, which is now the art studio, and ballet studio and…. Thanks for the tips. Love the carriage doors.

  34. I live in the Chicago area and last summer turned my awful cluttered garage into an awesome party garage. It’s my fav place in the house because it’s so unexpected and all the dudes in the neighborhood make jokes about wanting to rent it out.
    I call it the “Gal-rage” When I want to park inside the garage, I have outdoor rugs that I easily roll up and nesting bar tables I made that easily push off to the side (I own a reclaimed wood furniture biz so that helps and I used materials I already had) Especially in these times having this fun party space with open air has given my neighborhood friends and I a nice little place to hangout. We watch concerts on the big screen and football games this past fall.
    We posted a couple weeks ago a pic @urbanwoodgoods

  35. I live near DC but have a long driveway. My family never uses the garage for our cars. Our house is small and moving for more space is expensive. We are actually considering taking out the garage door, making it a wall and putting in a mini split. That would give us 625 sqft and room for a home gym, room, etc. The space otherwise is insulated and has electric. This article is very timely for us. However the carriage doors do not seem practical if you want to keep a space heated in winter and cool/ dry in summer. While they do look pretty. Anyway it’s a fun project with lots of potential but For us it’s such a large blank slate it’s hard to know what to do and how to maximize a small budget. We thought maybe we could do it in stages because with all this being home we could use more space yesterday.

  36. The first and third pictures featured pergolas over the garage doors. Where do you get them, who puts them up, and how much are you paying for that? Please!!! The front of our house really needs this feature and I just haven’t been able to move forward on it!

  37. We live in an old neighborhood (over 100 years old), so our “garage” is actually a carriage house, designed for much smaller horse-drawn carriage. We have thought about rebuilding it to be a proper garage size, but because we are in a historic neighborhood, approval may be difficult. So recently, we’ve thought of an ADU or recreation room for the space. This feature is perfect and provides so many ideas. Thank you!

  38. I live in Iowa and have a detached two car garage (that gets parked in when my husband isn’t using 100% of it for woodworking), and an attached one car garage that is used for storage and our home gym. I’ve looked into renovating the garage but from my research, it seems like it’s very undesirable from a resale standpoint….but these ones look much nicer than most I’ve seen!

  39. Such a good idea- I swear my garage is just a mess of things I don’t really need (besides my bike & skis)! Would you opt for finishing the flooring with carpet or go for a more industrial look with laminate or wood to avoid the extra cost of carpet cleaning??    

  40. I live near Boston but due to the pandemic we are turning our small one car garage into a gym. The garage is from the 40s or 50s so we will be insulating, putting up wall board, and painting. The room will have an arched ceiling and lots of room. I have already started getting high-end equipment second hand. However the overall goal is to keep the expenditure low enough that the next owner can use the building as a garage. Looking forward to the project and seeing many more EHD inspirations!

  41. Can we stop the “love you, mean it” at the end of posts? They’re essentially colloquial nonsense words, and feel very empty with an audience the size of this blog’s (especially at the end of sponsored or link-up posts).

  42. We live in south central PA near Gettysburg and keep our 2 vehicles in the garage. It is very convenient to get into a warm, dry vehicle in winter, makes snowblowing the driveway easier without cars in the way, and when it’s raining, we can unload the groceries inside while staying dry. Also good to protect against summer hailstorms. I love the garage transformations and envy that year-round Cali living, but it’s just very practical to have and use our garage as intended.

  43. We are converting our 2 car garage into a living/work space. It’ll have a bathroom and tiny kitchenette. I am hoping to crowdsource 2 questions – 1) would you include a separate bedroom or just have it be one open space? We want to be able to comfortably host our (aging) parents, but also know it’ll be used for our kids and their friends to hang out in when they get older. 2) we have an extra fridge in our garage we’ve grown to love! Would it be weird to have a full size fridge in the room? Or should we shove it in a closet?

  44. Considered converting my garage into an ADU, but discovered San Diegans want a garage when purchasing a home. We sadly don’t have basements OR attics to store treasures. Decided to keep the garage, and add on a master suite with an ADU below to my small home. Stay tuned.

  45. I live in Wisconsin and we definitely use our garage for our cars! It keeps the snow off the cars in the winter and keeps them cool in the summer. Ours is big enough for our two small-to-medium sized SUVs, the trash cans, and our bikes, plus our sports gear. We have a shed in the back yard for our garden stuff and lawn mower.
    We do also have a full basement, which we use both for extra living space (playroom/office space) and storage.

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