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Today’s Multi-Use Garage: Add More Storage or Create a New Living Space

“Consumers are starting to realize that the garage has a lot of potential,” says Lou Ann Schafer, senior marketing manager for Gladiator® GarageWorks.


A moveable ceiling system gets seasonal items up and out of the way. © GarageTek
A moveable ceiling system gets seasonal items up and out of the way. © GarageTek

“With the right organizational products, the garage can be a home office, a place to pursue hobbies or a multi-purpose room so you can spend time with family and friends.”

Reclaim the Space
Before anyone can enjoy the space available in a garage, they’ve got to find it—which means getting rid of clutter. A Peachtree Consulting Survey found that more than 42 percent of individuals rated cleaning and organizing the garage as a high priority for 2007 to 2009.

For Kathy Walters of Wichita, Kan., reclaiming her garage meant replacing cabinets built 25 years ago with garage components from Gladiator that now make the space very easy to keep organized. “We didn’t have drawers before


Gladiator® GarageWorks offers a variety of shelves, workbenches and brackets to please most gardeners as they pursue their interest. © Gladiator GarageWorks
Gladiator® GarageWorks offers a variety of shelves, workbenches and brackets to please most gardeners as they pursue their interest. © Gladiator GarageWorks

and the rubber matting doesn’t let tools slide around,” she says. “We can move around components and everything is in its place.” Dave Meadows of Shreveport, La., says his garage was “in great need of organization.” By installing Gladiator wall units and tracks with utility hooks, he says he accomplished his “goal to have a more functional garage.”

Here’s how to begin. Start by taking everything out of the garage, including old shelves and hooks. Decide what to keep, toss, donate or recycle. “You really have to be diligent here because if you move a bunch of things you never use back into your garage, you will not be successful in organizing your space,” says Gladiator’s Schafer.


Sports enthusiasts will appreciate having each piece of their special equipment in a safe, accessible place using Gladiator® GarageWorks organizing components. © Gladiator GarageWorks
Sports enthusiasts will appreciate having each piece of their special equipment in a safe, accessible place using Gladiator® GarageWorks organizing components. © Gladiator GarageWorks


Now sort by type the belongings you will keep. Put sports gear in one pile, gardening in another, kids’ things in yet another. Then delve into each pile to inventory sizes, shapes and numbers to help understand your storage needs.

Measure your garage and draw up a rough layout that includes door and window locations. Now it’s time to plan the transformation. “Think about the goal for the garage,” says Barbara Butensky, director of marketing for GarageTek. That goal might be to have a play area for the kids, a gardening center, a workout room or an area for entertaining. This is a good time to decide whether new doors or windows are needed and place them on your layout.



Hooks, hang-ups and other accessories keep equipment and supplies effortlessly off of the ground but always close at hand, so you don’t waste time looking for what you need. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid.
Hooks, hang-ups and other accessories keep equipment and supplies effortlessly off of the ground but always close at hand, so you don’t waste time looking for what you need. Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid.

Next, create zones for each type of gear. Zones help define the use of each space, such as an accessible space near the door for children’s toys or one for tools, fuels or chemicals with the intent to seal off the area and make it lockable and inaccessible to children and pets. Another space might be needed for seasonal storage that isn’t used regularly. Shelves, hoists, overhead racks, hangers, hooks and more are available to clear the area. Gladiator’s GearLoft™ Shelf uses dual-mounting shelf brackets to provide an extra-deep surface to store things up higher on the wall. GarageTek’s adjustable Overhead Storage Rack uses the ceiling space to store items.  
 
Get acquainted with garage organization products. The marketplace offers everything from individual products to full systems. There are materials that are recycled, eco-friendly, heavy-duty and/or upscale. They come in varied colors, styles and finishes, as DIY or dealer-installed systems and in a range of prices from a few to thousands of dollars. With everything in its place and the clutter gone, it’s time to create your new space.

Create New Space
Jennene Shanholtz, Realtor with Prudential American Group Realtors, Henderson, Nev., says people are not looking for permanently converted garage space but prefer flexible space. They do, however, want a finished look to that space, which often means a finished floor, finished walls, organizational components and a more decorative garage door than typical to provide important overall curb appeal. Shanholtz says the National Association of Realtors has found that there is an average 12 percent return on the investment in garage amenities.

Extending your home living space to your garage means taking a few extra precautions.

Check local codes and permits. Before considering garage renovation, check local building codes and obtain needed permits. Some areas may restrict how a garage can be used.

Make it safe. Whatever the goal, consider a few fundamentals. Keep the floors safe with a slip-resistant flooring product. Slip-resistant flooring tiles that snap together for easy installation can also give the space a polished look. Be sure the space is well-lit. The addition of new energy-efficient windows or an arrangement of energy-saving lights might work well.

Replace old springs. Garage door springs wear out. When they break, injury can result. Have an older garage door’s springs inspected by a professional technician and replaced if needed. If your door has two springs, replace both even if one is not broken, which will not only prevent any damage caused by the breaking of the second spring but also keep your door working efficiently, according to DASMA, Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association International.

Store sharp objects securely. Shovels, rakes, lawn chairs, bikes and other sharp objects need to be secure, either in specific holders or hung from pegs on a sidewall. Place the sharp edges toward the wall.

Anchor tall units. Consider anchoring tall shelving units to the wall. Eliminate concerns about falling units if children will be playing in the reclaimed space.

Be prepared. Be ready for any emergencies. Install a smoke alarm in the garage and keep a rechargeable fire extinguisher available.

GarageTek offers such safety items as a stocked first aid station and carbon monoxide alarms that are designed especially for the garage and able to withstand temperature extremes.


“Once homeowners realize that they can use the garage for something other than a tremendous ‘junk drawer,’ they get very creative,” says GarageTek’s Butensky. With more garages becoming climate-controlled, some people are creating home offices or children’s play spaces. “Our four game floors are big sellers among young families in particular,” says Butensky. GarageTek has hopscotch, checkers and chess with game pieces in two sizes, and shuffle board. The game floors, priced at $300 to $400, can be laid over the top or inserted into GarageTek’s tile floors and replaced as children age or their interests change. Tile is priced by market, averaging about $2,200 for a 400-square-foot two-car garage.

Garage organizing components can help you tailor your space to specific interests. “If you’re looking to create a work or play area, our workbenches are ideal for an office, to do homework, to play games or for arts and crafts,” says Gladiator® GarageWorks’ Schafer. “Best of all, the workbenches are created to fit underneath our modular cabinets so you can keep what you work on right under the table for easy access.” If the space is planned for entertaining, consider the Chillerator® garage refrigerator, the only Energy Star® qualified refrigerator designed to withstand the extreme temperatures and conditions in the garage.

With the space now part of an extended living area, consider upgrading your garage door. Get a design that complements the exterior design of the home. Garage door manufacturer Clopay offers an interactive Web tool to let you upload a digital photo of your home to “try on” garage door designs to find the perfect match. Raynor offers a “design-a-door” tool.

Tom Wadsworth, spokesperson for GarageWowNow, says there are other considerations to selecting a garage door. A well-insulated door is obviously a smart choice for living spaces. Polyurethane insulation typically offers greater insulating qualities but polystyrene insulation, when bonded to steel doors, also delivers very good thermal performance. Instead of the typical center-mounted garage door opener, which would be less desirable in a finished living space, consider a side-mounted opener, such as the Jackshaft model from LiftMaster.

Credit: Renovate Your World