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Garage Conversions Part 2: What To Do With Your Converted Space

Garage conversions are a great way to add living space to your home. In part one of this series, we talked about some of the challenges of converting the space in the first place, but today I want to take a look at what you can do with all that added square footage. Converting a garage into a living room is one of the simplest and most popular options, but it certainly isn’t the only one. The more creative you get with designing your space, the more it will feel like an organic part of your home, and the more use you’ll get out of it.

Add A Customized Living Area

Converting a garage gives you the opportunity to build a living area that perfectly matches your family's needs (by KKC Fine Homes, photo by Erhard Pfeiffer)
Converting a garage gives you the opportunity to build a living area that perfectly matches your family’s needs (by KKC Fine Homes, photo by Erhard Pfeiffer)

The easiest, most basic garage conversion you can do is to simply slap up some drywall, throw down an area rug, and drag in a sofa. But while this is simple and inexpensive to do, it won’t feel very homey. If you’re doing a garage conversion primarily because you want your family to have more space to spend time together, think about what exactly it is you want to do in that space. For example, if your family spends a lot of time watching movies, a garage is a great place to build a home theater. Since you’ll need to finish the walls anyway, it’s easy to add soundproofing so you can crank up the volume without disturbing people in other parts of the home, and a big blank wall is great for setting up a projector.

Add A Play Room For Your Kids (Or For The Grown Ups!)

Garages offer wide open spaces that are great for building a play room - either for kids or for adults (by SchappacherWhite Architecture D.P.C.)
Garages offer wide open spaces that are great for building a play room – either for kids or for adults (by SchappacherWhite Architecture D.P.C.)

Similarly, a converted garage is a great place to create a play room for your kids. The space is large and open, and since you’re building from the floor up, you can easily design the room with safety (and fun!) in mind. Depending on the ages of your kids, that can mean building desks into the wall for school work, storage for toys, or fun features like chalkboard walls, play houses, or small-scale sports setups. Grown-up game rooms are another popular option, and often require a lot less finish work than other types of garage conversions. You’ll still want the room to be drywalled and weatherproofed, but you might be able to settle for hard floors and a slightly more garage-y feel to go with your new pool table and pinball machine.

Make The Most Of Your Outdoor Areas

A garage conversion that opens up on your back yard is a great way to enjoy year-round entertaining even in harsher climates (by Colour Pop Interior Design, Janine Monks )
A garage conversion that opens up on your back yard is a great way to enjoy year-round entertaining even in harsher climates (by Colour Pop Interior Design, Janine Monks )

The fact that most of one wall of the garage naturally opens to the outdoors also presents a unique opportunity to create a hybrid indoor/outdoor space. Especially if your garage is attached on the side but not connected to the house on the back, you can actually carve out a second wall so the space opens onto both your back and front yards. This turns your garage into a sort of cabana that’s perfect for hosting outdoor parties in warm weather, but that can close up and be used even in the off season. A small kitchenette, bar, or even just a dining/lounge area can expand the size and functionality of your outdoor area while eliminating concerns about harsh off-season weather and storing outdoor furniture. Even if you stick with normal living room furniture, creating this kind of breezeway can help cool the room in summer and, with well-insulated glass doors, add light and warmth in the winter months.

Build A Greatroom

Garages make excellent greatrooms, with high gabled ceilings and a totally open floorplan that you can easily connect to the rest of your home (by JAMIE FALLA ARCHITECTURE, photo by Nick Guttridge)
Garages make excellent greatrooms, with high gabled ceilings and a totally open floorplan that you can easily connect to the rest of your home (by Jamie Falla Architecture, photo by Nick Guttridge)

Keeping a garage conversion relatively separated from the rest of the house is a good way to simplify the construction process, especially when it comes to heating and cooling the space. But your new room doesn’t have to stay behind closed doors. In fact, removing all or part of the wall where the garage attaches to the rest of the house is a great way to create a more open floor plan, and can be the perfect opportunity to build a large great room. Depending on where the garage meets the house, this may or may not work for you, but that wide-open space works beautifully as a kitchen/living/dining room.

Make It A Suite

A garage suite can either be a great getaway for two, or a more permanent residence for long-term housemates (SHED Architecture & Design, Benjamin Benschneider)
A garage suite can either be a great getaway for two, or a more permanent residence for long-term housemates (SHED Architecture & Design, Benjamin Benschneider)

That said, a garage conversion doesn’t have to be dedicated to a public living area. It can also be used to add an additional bedroom. A single car garage is just the right size for a bedroom with a twin bed and desk or sitting area, while a two or three car garage can be converted into a full master suite. If your home’s current master bedroom is too small or doesn’t have an en suite, a large garage is the perfect place to build one. Adding a bathroom will add to the expense of the project somewhat, but a luxurious master suite will almost definitely raise the value of your home. Similarly, this space can be used to create a mother-in-law-suite (a bedroom with a bathroom and a separate entrance) for guests, or even a studio apartment, complete with bathroom and kitchenette, if you’d like to rent out part of your home.

Create A Home For Your Hobby

A home office, gym, or studio built in a garage offers not only a bit of privacy, but can even help lower utility costs for those who work from home (by Suzanne Dingley Interiors)
A home office, gym, or studio built in a garage offers not only a bit of privacy, but can even help lower utility costs for those who work from home (by Suzanne Dingley Interiors)

Garages of any size can also be used to create space for work or a hobby you simply don’t have enough room for elsewhere in your house. A home office, artist’s studio, music room, or even home gym are all right at home in a garage conversion, not the least because you can keep the room separated from distractions in the rest of the home. Garages also make quite a nice retreat; many garage conversions leave some of the architectural features of the garage (particularly exposed beams) intact, while replacing the garage door with a large window or sliding glass door provides ample natural light. Keeping the garage on a separate heating and cooling system can help lower utilities for those who work from home, and since a garage conversion can be tailor built to your specifications, you can get exactly the design and ambiance you want.

What room would you add to your home if you could? Are you mostly hurting for bedrooms, family areas, or something a little more specific? Let me know in the comments below!