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Finished Garage Ideas

finished garage ideas showcasing garage cabinetry and bike storage

Many people are feeling the crunch from crowded living spaces in the home. Togetherness is nice — up to a point. That's because everyone needs some alone time. The space to get away, even if only to another room for a short while, is a coveted feature in today's housing market. If you've ever yearned for a separate kid's playroom, or an in-home exercise studio, or your own sports bar and video center, you know what we mean. Those are luxury spaces that only the largest homes can provide, right? Maybe not. Take a look at these finished garage ideas. The space you're looking for might be right under your nose.

When it comes to finding new space in the home, remodeling the garage can be like finishing the basement. Both have the potential of adding a lot of useful living space to the home. They should be the first places you turn to alleviate the sense of overcrowding. But there are differences between garage makeovers and the basement renovations. For example, garages often need to house a car, bicycles, lawn equipment, and more in addition to any new uses you may dream up for them as a finished space. These items are much larger than the usual furnace and hot water heater found in a typical basement. That's why garage upgrades can be tricky. Storage is the paramount concern in any garage renovation.

Tips to get going on your next awesome garage makeover:

1. Get everything up off the floor with a quality garage storage system.

garage cabinets with garage grade storage
This garage features garage-grade cabinetry. Slatwall, offering space to hang small tools, covers the area between the workbench and overhead cabinets. An overhead bike hoist gets bicycles off the floor.

All unfinished garages tend to be cluttered and messy. Stuff gets left on the floor. The first thing you need to do in any garage remodel is take care of this mess. You won't get anywhere in your garage makeover without designing a storage system for the existing uses your garage provides. Everything needs a home. There are three principal types of garage storage to consider.

  • Cabinets and Shelves: Cabinets and shelves are the backbone of every garage storage plan. Use them to get everything up off the floor. But before you build, you need to plan for the type and size you need. Take an inventory of what must be stored on shelves or inside cabinets. Then create the type and style of storage you need to house it all.
  • Walls: Put your garage walls to work as a place to hang rakes, shovels, and other tools. Even bikes can be hung on the wall if you use the right kind of bike rack. The easiest way to convert your walls into a storage system is by covering them with Slatwall organizers. Slatwall is the modern and more durable take on pegboard. Covering your walls with this type of material offers the greatest and most varied opportunities for organized wall storage.
  • Ceiling: Don't forget to put your garage ceiling to work. Moving as much storage as possible to this mostly unused real estate will clear up a lot of. Use overhead racks to store large bins of seasonal items and sporting goods. Bicycles, ladders, even kayaks can be suspended from the ceiling to free up floor space.

2. Refinish the garage floor.

Closeup of Polyurea garage floor coating
This garage floor is finished in a Polyurea system that won't chip or flake, even when subjected to harsh Chicago weather.

Nothing looks worse than a dirty oil-stained garage floor. And no one will want to walk on it in their stocking feet unless you clean and refinish it. That's why the floor is an important part of any garage makeover. If the floor is relatively new, you may be able to get away with just polishing, staining, and then sealing the cement. Many auto dealership service areas have this type of floor. However, most home garage floors will need a little more work to bring them up to "finished" quality. Contact a professional if your concrete is pitted, cracked, or severely stained. They know how to recover this type of wear and tear. Much of their success is in the prep work as well as the finished coating. You still need to be able to drive a car over this floor without causing flaking, so always use a professional concrete refinishing product rather than paint for this task.

3. Rethink your garage lighting.

No one wants to spend time in a dark and dingy space. If you intend to have your garage do double duty as living space, even if only occasionally, it needs to be well lit. Perhaps your garage already has big windows. But in the absence of natural light or if you want to use the space at night you will need to invest in new lighting. The good news is that garages often have unfinished space above the ceiling where you can run wires for lighting. Don't skimp on the illumination. Use multiple LED flush mount fixtures on the ceiling and space them equal distances from each for even lighting. Go for large fixtures on your garage ceiling like those typically used in basements.

You will also probably want to include task lighting in your garage makeover because it will reduce eye strain and make the garage a much more pleasant place. Always use LED task lights because they are cheaper to run and more environmentally friendly. LEDs task lights and fixtures are available as low voltage kits if you are handy and want to try this yourself. Be sure to place the task lights above any countertops and inside cabinets. To illuminate countertops, attach puck lights to the underside of the upper cabinets or shelves. Install vertical strip lighting against the interior side panels of your cabinets so that shelves are lit when you open the cabinet door. The strip lighting should be placed in the front 1/3 of the cabinet panel rather than the center. If you use a professional closet company to install this for you, the track for the strip lighting will be routed into the panel and finished with a cover over the lights. But no matter how you do it, install the lights before you add shelves into your cabinets.

4. Build a workbench & hobby area.

Garage cabinets with workbench
This finished garage idea includes a full-size refrigerator-freezer covered in panels to match the garage cabinetry. The addition of a television over the workbench means this space can function as a comfortable entertainment area when needed.

In order for your multipurpose garage to be a success, you need to include features and storage specific to the types of activities you want to perform in the space. That means if you want to use it for your woodworking hobby, make sure you have an appropriate workbench that can handle this. Same for other hobbies like stained glass, crafts, etc. In addition to drawers and a countertop with good lighting, consider leaving an open area for leg room if you want to be able to sit down at your worktable. The leg opening should be 36-inches wide. Keep the depth of the workbench around 24-inches for convenience. The countertop should be installed between 38-36-inches from the floor. It can be higher if you plan to stand while you work.

5. Don't forget to add a garage refrigerator and snack center.

Garage cabinets with refrigerator
This finished garage idea includes a full-size refrigerator-freezer covered in panels to match the garage cabinetry. The addition of a television over the workbench means this space can function as a comfortable entertainment area when needed.

Whether you use it as a supplement to the kitchen or simply plan to spend a lot of time in the garage, consider a garage refrigerator. The extra convenience will make the space that much more livable. In fact, the question shouldn't be whether you need a refrigerator in your garage, but what kind of refrigerator. A small under-the-counter beverage refrigerator may suffice if the garage is used as a hobby area for one person. But if you want the space to accommodate more people at a time or if you plan to keep food in addition to beverages in your garage, go for a large, standard size refrigerator. It will also come in handy if you want to use the garage as a party space.

6. Install a sink.

Garage cabinets with sink
This garage includes a sink in the corner to support the owner's gardening and hobby activities that take place in the space.

A sink is a very practical addition to any finished garage space. Use it as a place to wash up before entering the home when you're occupied with a messy hobby like gardening or automotive restoration. Use it in conjunction with your refrigerator for kitchen surplus. Sink styles vary and there's bound to be one that suits your garage use. Besides, it's always nice to have access to water in your finished garage. It will make the space much more versatile.

Just make sure your garage is both insulated before adding a sink. If you plan to heat the space, then you are ready to add the sink. However, if your finished garage is to remain unheated, make sure the water pipes are well insulated. This is especially important in areas where temperatures periodically go below freezing.

7. Add a big TV.

Finished garage as play room with television
This garage is used as a playroom for the kids on rainy days. The owners installed a big screen television for entertainment. They allow their kids to ride bikes and drive their power cars in the garage during inclement weather.

If you want to use your finished garage space for entertaining, a big screen TV is probably a must. However, there are other reasons for adding a television to the garage as well. If the garage is going to double as a kid's playroom during inclement weather, a television may be an asset. A small TV or computer station that streams the latest "how to" videos can be a help in a hobby area. Or stream sporting events into your garage while you work out. A television is one of those finishing touches that allows the finished garage to function like an indoor space. Mount yours safely on a section of wall where it is unlikely to be bumped by cars, bikes, or yard equipment.

8. Seating.

Include a place to sit down in your garage makeover. This may simply mean a stool under the workbench. But you can also include seating for television viewing and general socializing in the finished garage. Lawn furniture designed primarily for outdoor living works well for this purpose because it folds up when you need to pull the car into the garage. New models offer increased comfort. Some even include removable pillows and other cushy features like indoor furniture.

Fold up furniture is easy to store inside the garage. Many wall track systems include special hooks for hanging fold away seating. You can also store pieces on an overhead rack when you aren't using it. Some ceiling racks are motorized and can hold up to 300 pounds, making them very convenient for garage furniture storage.

9. Exercise & recreation center.

Home punching bag and exercise mat
This punching bag is installed over an exercise mat to keep the cement floor cushy while working out.

Finished garages make a good place for big exercise equipment and machines. Punching bags, barbells, treadmills, and other equipment that doesn't fit indoors can often find a home in the remodeled garage. If your space is large enough, set up a separate area in the corner of the garage for this purpose. Use a set of storage shelves as a room divider. Consider adding a rubber mat over the floor where you plan to exercise. It doesn't need to be large. You want it just big enough to provide a cushioned, slip-resistant surface for your exercising routine. The mat can also add protection to a finished cement floor by diffusing damage if heavy barbells are dropped. But don't make it so big that the car sits on this mat. You want the exercise mat for humans and exercise equipment only.

Ready to put these finished garage ideas into action in your home?

A good garage makeover can provide so much more than increased storage and a place for the car. Use these tips to expand the livable area of your home. You're sure to be pleased with increased space and greater functionality your garage can provide for yourself and your family.