Let’s be honest: Our garages are usually the last places we want to go when we’re home. Often, they’re a domain of disorganization and despair where all that enters gets lost in a mess of cobwebs, dust and chaos. For some, it’s a dumping ground to be avoided at all costs.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Want to turn your eyesore into a crowning jewel, or at least a clean, useful, non-scary part of your home? We’ve got some ideas for your garage makeover that can bring beauty, utility and personality to the place you park your car.
Ground Floor Opportunities
Garage floors aren’t inherently known for their glam; dark, dusty and stained is often a better description of a garage floor. If you’re not feeling your floor, consider coating it in a light or bright hue with concrete floor paint—a tougher version of wall paint that comes in oil- and water-based formulas. Epoxy paint is another option, typically a two-step process that yields tough-as-nails results but involves meticulous floor prep and a work-fast application process. A garage floor stain is a third choice—one that mimics the look of natural stone with color that sinks into the floor, and is applied in two coats and buffed in with a wire brush, then sealed with one or two coats of polyurethane as a final step.
Lastly, a garage floor sealer with an acrylic or urethane base can be an economical and easy way to spruce up your floor. Both versions apply easily with a roller, have a sheen when dry, and can be tinted. These coverings offer varying degrees of stain and moisture-resistance and are easier to clean than bare concrete, but involve careful surface preparation and a garage floor that’s dry year-round. Before you embark on this option, spend some time up front assessing your floor for compatibility with these applications.
If you’re not brave enough to coat it, you can cover your garage floor with easy-install, roll-out mats, which come in a variety of sizes, colors and patterns (think tough, rubber area rug) and can be used in one area or to cover your entire garage floor. Interlocking tiles are another variation, in solid, soft rubber or slotted, harder plastic versions. The former is softer underfoot while the latter drains liquid more easily; both can be installed by trimming with a utility knife to fit. Some companies offer a design-your-own level of customizability with patterns and colors and can ship your interlocking floor to you, ready for installation.
A highly economical option is to thoroughly clean your floor and add outdoor rugs in strategic places, like near the house entry door, under a coat rack and topped with boot trays for a mini mudroom, or in front of a counter or shelving unit, paired with bright, enameled metal stools to designate a work station or gear-change area. Don’t forget to coordinate these rugs with dirt- and rock-catching entry mats near doors to your house and yard to keep things colorful and tidy.
Climb the Walls
Your garage walls are a golden opportunity to add color, increase light and create more storage options. Paint them a cheerful color or install beadboard covered with mildew-resistant paint in bright white, on which to hang wire baskets and adjustable shelves. Group decorative hooks next to the door to the house for an attractive and functional coat rack, or hang them near the door to your yard to hold tools like grilling tongs or marshmallow roasting skewers. Stock up on heavy-duty hooks which can hang bikes, ladders and other bulky items for both organization and aesthetic appeal.
Take full advantage of your vertical space. Not only will you get your sports gear and gardening tools off the floor and out of those decaying cardboard boxes, but you’ll create an additional opportunity to liven up walls. Use metal or plastic free-standing shelving units as bases on which to organize items into colorful rubber baskets, plastic bins and tubs; your color scheme of choice can even serve as an organizational method (winter gear in gray bins, pool accessories in blue baskets, for example). You can also install pegboard, painted to match your color scheme, for an easy, inexpensive and attractive storage option—just grab hooks and group your power tools and camping gear for easy access and organization. Don’t overlook ceilings; they’re great places to suspend kayaks, golf bags and bikes from heavy-duty hooks.
If your budget allows, another obvious way to add loads of utility is to install cabinetry and countertops on one or more walls. If most garage cabinetry offerings look too industrial for your tastes, consider kitchen cabinetry, a countertop and open shelving above to mimic kitchen style (even if you’re cooking up planting projects instead of salmon and risotto). The trick: Install enough cabinetry to serve the space but not so much as to bulk up its visual balance.
Rolling storage carts are another versatile garage storage option. They can serve triple duty as a potting place, a craft table and an auto maintenance station, and come in a wide variety of sizes and storage configurations.
Make function follow form by creating zones in your garage for different activities like sports, gardening and DIY projects. Look for zone-specific organizing products, like wall-mountable ball racks to keep sports equipment organized, see-through containers with seals for dog food, and wire bins for beach towels.
Outdoor seating placed in your garage can also serve as a zone in which to relax and chat with a loved one who’s in the throes of a project, a lounging spot for your dog, or to park it for a quick change of shoes before heading out. Two chairs with outdoor cushions, an outdoor rug and a folding, all-weather accent table create instant livability if your square footage allows
Add Homey Accessories
Look for opportunities to add elements you’d typically install inside your home, which can lend a livable-space vibe to the garage. Install new lighting with a sense of style and outdoor durability, such as chandeliers or sconces with durable surfaces that are easy to clean, or go recessed with can lighting that’s a step up from fluorescent tubes. Improve airflow with a ceiling fan, and add texture and style with bamboo shades over garage windows.
Now, it’s time to have at it. With some planning, purging and playfulness, you can get excited about your garage and start using it as it was meant to be—a functional extension of your home in which to park cars and so much more.