Ten Fabulous Uses for a Garage

    Garages: they’re not just for cars anymore. After I wrote an article about remodeling your garage if you wanted to have a garage band, I started thinking that garages can be an untapped gold mine of additional space for a wide range of uses.

    This person turned his garage into a photography studio. (Photo: Illusive Photography/Flickr)

    There are 4 things to consider when you are thinking of remodeling a garage:

    1. always check with your municipality to make sure you have all appropriate permits.
    2. make sure whatever you are planning isn’t going to be a big problem for your neighbors.
    3. negotiate with your family members, since there may be conflicts about the use of the space.
    4. think about whether you need water, electricity, heat, additional lighting, new flooring, and insulation/soundproofing.

    Here are a few garage conversion ideas to get your juices flowing:

    Sewing space for you and/or a small group: Sewing your own clothing, curtains, etc. seems to have become popular again. Recently, three businesses have opened in within 25 miles of where I live offering materials, classes, and space to sew.

    Tool haven: In part or all of your garage, design a space to house, organize, clean, sharpen, and repair tools. Additionally, you may want to set aside a space set up to work on projects. This is perfect if you are a skilled carpenter in New York City or some other area where workshop spaces are expensive or scarce.

    "Anything goes" play area: Create safe boundaries, such as panels and baby gates. Put down heavy rubber matting. Perhaps have an area with thick carpeting and a comfy chair or bean bag that can be easily cleaned. Bring in the toys and bring on the kids.

    Start a bird B&B: In a previous article, I wrote about Peggy McLeod of Belchertown, MA. McLeod decided to repurpose her garage as a bird B&B with soundproofing and easy-to-clean walls and floors. She installed appropriate shelving and climbing stations for cages and play areas. She also ensured there was plenty of light for her charges, as well as a dark enough space for them to rest. In an adjoining area, she sells bird toys, food, and treats.

    Craft shop: Whatever your hobby may be, it‘s likely you can outfit your garage to accommodate almost any craft you enjoy creating, whether it’s soap box derby cars, model airplanes, re-caning chairs, building furniture, or rigging up a Rube Goldberg Machine.

    Small business: I’ve known several folks who turned a garage into a hair salon, a shop to sell their own crafts (one woman made unique, highly detailed clay fairies), a market for their homegrown produce, etc. Not only will you need permits for this type of endeavor, you'll probably need to appear before a local board to gain approval. You may also need to get written consent from neighbors who live within a certain proximity. Parking and signage are often issues.

    No den or basement? Repurpose your garage as a “man-cave,” or “mom cave.” Everyone needs to get away sometimes, to a place where they can close the door and decompress. A “cave” is designed to have what comforts you – which would be very individual choices. If you are planning to put a great sound system or television in your remodeled garage, make sure you have a good security system, too.

    Yoga or dance studio: Transform your garage into a clean space with appropriate flooring, mats, bars, and a sound system. You might have to hire a flooring contractor to install proper flooring for either yoga or dance classes.

    Greenhouse or potting studio: Upgrade your garage into a gardener's delight. It's very possible that you'll need to install more windows; grow lights; and work stations for tools, soil, and plant material.

    Home office space: Again, make sure you also have good security, but your garage could be made over to support a business, a writing career, or the student(s) in your home.

    Updated April 17, 2018.

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