Geared Up Garages
The word garage is French in origin, derived from the verb “garer,” or “to dock.”
That makes sense as the garage is where most homeowners “dock” a car or two (or boat, if they’re lucky.) But as many Atlanta houses have expanded in size, so have garages. This leaves more space to tuck in things like sporting equipment, yard tools, automotive tools, recycle bins and the like. Some Atlanta homeowners have taken it a step further and transformed their garage into a workspace or gardening shed, or even extra play space. Here are some ideas so that you, too, can get the most out of your garage.
After the kitchen, bathrooms and master bedroom are renovated, garages are “the last bastion where homeowners turn their focus,” says Doug Calvert of Garage Solutions Atlanta. “They want a better living environment for the garage. They are wanting to create a living, working space in the garage.”
Calvert says his recent projects include the installation of floors and custom cabinets, which allows room for workspaces. “People really are wanting, finally, to use their garage space effectively,” he says. “They are turning to companies like ours to do this.”
In fact, renovating the garage seems to be a natural evolution in creating a total home environment. “The garage is a reflection of the entire house,” says Alan Mishkoff of Granite Garage Floors in Alpharetta. “Garage space is 10 to 15 percent of the square footage of the house. People spend a lot of money and attention to detail for the front entry, and it should be the same for the garage. It’s really just an upgrade to the house.”
Behind the Door
While carriage- and barn-style doors remain popular, homeowners are taking these and other garage doors to new heights. “A lot of customers are choosing to ‘high lift’ their doors,” says Jerri Meredith of Metro Garage Door. “This takes your garage door up and into the ceiling for customers who wish to have more headroom. For instance, customers who often work on cars, or who want to keep a larger vehicle in the garage, or a garage/barn for motor homes. Most doors offer a high lift track to accommodate [their needs].”
Choosing the right door can change the entire look of the garage on the inside as well. “If you want to give the illusion of more openness, going with a ‘full view’ door would be an option,” Meredith says. “You see this mostly used in a commercial application, but the same doors can work in a residential setting. It is becoming more popular in the Southern states.”
Overhead door technology reaches far beyond the traditional one-button remote. “Some garage door controls now offer the capability to operate your garage door from your Internet or using a smartphone app,” Meredith says. “One of the new innovative products, made by Liftmaster, is called MyQ technology.” With this application, homeowners can securely monitor and control the garage door opener and houselights from a smartphone, tablet or computer.
A lot of Atlanta homeowners are foregoing the traditional plain concrete flooring in favor of a finished, sealed floor that holds up under hot tires, car fluids and any mess a toddler can throw at it. “We’re seeing a big uptick in epoxy flooring,” Calvert says. “Many are empty nesters who now have more disposable income and nicer cars.” Many have always wanted a beautiful garage, and now they are treating themselves to something they may have put off until they had the time and the funds to do so, he adds.
According to Calvert, these epoxy floors protect the floor and provide a showroom-quality look to the garage. The process includes grinding the concrete, applying epoxy, adding plastic chips for color and then sealing the floor to repel spills.
Many Atlanta homeowners are opting to give their garage floors a granite finish. “It really upgrades the space,” Mishkoff says. “Many homeowners also paint the garage to match the floor.” Earth tones, by far, are the most popular colors, he adds. These include blacks, browns and beiges.
Mishkoff says a premium garage floor solution can provide a better investment for homeowners. “DIY-ers and painters don’t usually prepare the floor correctly, so hot tires will peel the paint up,” he says. More than half of his business comes from people looking to redo their garage from an earlier DIY or painter job.
Behind the primary function of housing the car, the garage is quickly becoming a hot spot for storage. From holiday decorations and off-season clothes to sports equipment and gardening tools, homeowners are stashing everything in the garage. Unfortunately, this habit can result in a lot of stacked boxes between vehicles and yard tools standing haphazardly against the wall. To remedy this problem, residents are selecting a variety of storage solutions including cabinetry, shelving, hanging racks and even overhead storage bins.
“There’s a large interest in overhead storage,” Calvert says. “It creates more space inside the house by storing items like holiday decorations. People are very in tune with getting things off the floor.” To do this, Calvert says he’s seeing homeowners choose 4×8 metal racks that attach to the ceiling trusses, as well as wall shelving where folks can hang up bikes, tools, sporting equipment and so on.
When installing these storage solutions many homeowners—especially women—are including worktops. “More women are getting command of the garage and demanding a workspace,” Calvert says. “Many install lights over it so they can see better.” Therefore, consumers are selecting custom cabinets that include a worktop where they can pot plants, repair golf clubs and other tasks.
Effective storage solutions are especially beneficial in smaller, “ITP” garages. “That’s where we install a lot of Monkey Bars systems,” Calvert says. Specifically, these homeowners are going with shelving systems featuring 16-inch deep shelves, as well as hooks so they can store items and hang up bikes, golf clubs and even totes.
Shed Some Light
Working in a garage (or even having enough light just to find a baseball glove) can be challenging. In most homes, the standard lighting is four-lamp florescent lighting fixtures attached to the ceiling. “We are seeing much more interesting lighting,” Calvert says. For instance, on a recent project, the homeowners opted for warehouse lamps. “They really wanted a more upscale look,” he says.
Another way to brighten up the garage is by changing out the solid garage door to one with windows. “Having a garage door with windows or purchasing a ‘full view’ garage door would certainly give you more light into the garage, especially if you do not have house windows in the garage,” Meredith says. “You have the options of windows in the top of the section or the second section down, and you can also have clear glass or get decorative inserts or designer glass.”
Make a Plan
When embarking on a garage renovation or upgrade, Calvert recommends doing some online research to see all the storage solutions, garage flooring options and lighting available for homeowners. Then narrow it down to how you want your garage to look and function. Use that as a guideline to talk with your garage professional. Together you can design a system that meets your needs and budget.
“A lot of people are intimidated, but people are just amazed at how little it costs to install some solutions,” Calvert says. “You can always add more down the road to get exactly what you want within your budget.” For example, Calvert says homeowners can start with just four feet of Monkey Bars for $240 installed with tax.
If you plan to redo your entire garage and have the luxury of time, Mishkoff recommends painting the walls first, finishing the floor next and, finally, installing your cabinets and storage solutions. This process helps the entire project move along in a smooth and efficient manner.
Garages have always served a necessary purpose when it comes to housing vehicles. But with a little imagination and renovation, you’ll soon be able to “dock” much more than just a car in your garage!