One prime area for this kind of thing is the garage. Once a place to put your car, or cars, or random stuff you’re not sure what to do with, garages can be the key to expanding your passions, whatever they are. And this expansion starts with good design.
Returning guest writer Adria Saracino is here to shed some light on some ideas for garage conversions that will set your creative design brains reeling …
When our parents and grandparents were in the market for new homes, oftentimes uniqueness was one of the last things that they worried about. In fact, the rise of Levittown, and consequently the suburbs and subdivisions in post-WWII America, meant whole neighborhoods were built off of variations of the same building plans.
This suggests that what they wanted was the same as what most people wanted. The Baby Boomers were content with a roof in a nice neighborhood under which to raise their kids.
However, the past decade-plus of this past century indicates that there’s been a shift in what homebuyers are looking for. In many ways this speaks to the changes of the Generation X and Y homebuyers who are in the market. We are no longer just looking at homes as places to raise families, but we also want our homes to fit into our own lifestyles.
I was curious to see how this trend was being reflected in the home buying market. What I noticed was that the garage has been taking center stage in this movement: people seem to be redefining the garage to mean something more than a simple storage area for cars. It has become an extension of the home, similar to the outdoor living space movement from a few years before.
I’m determined to get to the bottom of this. I’m working with Ben Cochrane of Go Auto New & Used Cars and asked him to pitch in his thoughts on this movement.
“It seems like homeowners are using their garages to assert their individuality more than ever,” Cochrane explained. “Gone are the days where if you live in a snowy climate you have a garage to protect your car, because sometimes those are being used for other reasons [like] storage or entertainment spaces.”
Ben explained that homeowners who don’t use their garage in the traditional sense oftentimes need to look for cars that can withstand the elements because a safe haven is no longer an option. These people are valuing the additional living space over protecting their car (or avoiding the task of clean off the car – yuck!).
Inspired by my discussion with Ben, I looked into some of the more creative ways homeowners are pimping out their garages. Here are some of the trends that are taking our garages by storm, and turning them into another functional part of our homes.
Recording studio/rehearsal space
It seems like every neighborhood has an aspiring rock band making use of their parents’ garage. In fact, garages are so synonymous with “band practice space” that we’ve even named a whole genre of rock and roll after the custom.
But these days, it’s not just the high school kids taking advantage of the area. While previous generations were content to “put away childish things” as they aged, these days we’re holding onto our youths longer and, consequently, the hobbies we took up in them.
My brother-in-law is a great example of this. Though he and his buddies are all successful professionals in their mid-50s, when the weekend rolls around they head out to the garage. That’s because they’ve turned his garage into a deluxe recording studio/jam space full of top-of-the-line equipment and even a well-stocked bar.
Some homeowners go as far as to turn the space into a full-fledged recording studio. The garage oftentimes is away from the main living areas in the home, making it an ideal place to house noisemaking disturbances.
Home crafting or art studio
My dad and grandpas all used the garage as workshops. However, the past ten years have also seen an explosion of the DIY movement. People have gotten fed up with the same-old offering of big box stores, so many folks have taken to making their own crafts that showcase their individuality and give them an outlet for their creative sides.
In fact, with the rise in popularity of online marketplaces such as Etsy and eBay, many people are even making a living out of selling their crafts directly to the public. Of course, this means they’ll need a place to work. Garages have proven the perfect place, with the easy-to-clean concrete floors and open spaces.
Realtors are quick to point out properties that have ample bedrooms to a potential buyer. In order to sell their homes in today’s market, many people have taken to converting their garage to an extra bedroom.
Especially in areas with mild winters, they reckon the car can stay in the drive. And they’re having fun doing it, too. Many homeowners are leaving in little nods to the space’s previous use, such as the rolling door or lofts, and giving the new rooms a modern feel.
Rec room (or the Man Cave)
Any list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the garage turned rec room, a la The Man Cave. Though the name would indicate that these spaces are men-only, really they’re less a boy’s club and more akin to the rumpus rooms of yesteryear. People are building wet bars in the garages and decking them out with comfy seating, poker tables, pool tables, arcade games, dart boards, well, you get the idea.
Essentially, they’re taking what was once an outdoor space and they’re making it a comfortable hangout spot to have guests over.
Adria Saracino is a blogger and interior design enthusiast. When not obsessing over how to decorate her new apartment, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.