This is what our garage looked like when we bought our house - your typical ranch-style attached garage. We knew the house was too small when we bought it (Brian works from home and the main house consisted of only one large great room in addition to the bedrooms), so we planned from the beginning to make the garage into living space.
Since we bought the house with this in mind we were able to use money from the sale of our first house to hire someone to finish the shell for us (with our help) about 6 months after we moved in. Brian and I did the floors, molding, doors, electrical, paint, etc. before getting code approval to move in. We then spent more time finishing the details - in fact, there is still trim work to be done 5 years later. If you diy at all, you know what I'm talking about, huh?
Three Things To Make A Garage A Real Living Space
I was adamant that it look completely like it was always living space and not a former garage. To that end we:
- Raised the floor to be the same level as the rest of the house
- Extended the porch across the front
- Tore up the driveway so that there would be no trace of the garage that was there before. It's always been a pet peeve of mine to see houses where the garage was finished into living space and the driveway and cars still go right up to the new windows. If you have to keep the driveway, at least put in a flower border or something.
Interior: Hallway & Laundry/Mud Room
The old doorway from the kitchen to the garage now leads to a hallway that is a seamless part of the house because we spent the extra money and time to raise the floor. Visitors have to be told it's been remodeled from a garage, which was always a goal of ours.
The hallway has three doors. The one immediately to the right goes to my office/guest room/craft space and the door at the end is Brian's office (read part 5 of this series to see these rooms). The door on the left leads to one of my favorite things about the new space:
The laundry room/mudroom.
Our city bungalow had the laundry in the basement, and before we finished this area I was doing the laundry in the garage which was cold and dirty. Man, I don't know how people do laundry in garages!
We put a French door here to echo the new French doors we were adding to the exterior. Adding French doors was part of my plan to make our ranch into a cottage. It has the added bonus of allowing the light from the window in the outside door to come into the hallway.
- We we added a laundry sink and a tongue-and-groove fir wood counter over our front loading washer and dryer. This is the same position the machines were in the old garage, we just scooted them up and over a bit to accommodate the floor and sink, respectively.
- The counter is some discounted fir flooring we found. Brian glued it together and I finished it to match the floors and other wood in our house.
- The cupboard above is an old cabinet we found on the side of the road years ago and have used as shelves in various houses. It still needs brackets and to be painted.
- Beadboard panels were installed around the entire room and painted white. Still waiting on the top molding. Sigh.
- I hounded our builder to create this clothes-drying closet next to the washing area. He didn't really see the need for it, and it was hard to fit in there. It is only 17" wide but it works perfectly as I envisioned, providing a place to hang clothes out of the public eye and also keep brooms and mops.
In the spirit of keeping it real, I'm posting the unfinished 'mudroom' half of this room. Mainly because it's been like this for 5 years, a-hem, and I don't know when it will be completely finished, but it is being used as you can see.
- We created a place for coats out of an old piece of salvaged molding and wire coat hooks which we hung over the electrical panel to disguise it some. The plan is to add a door made out of the beadboard at some point to cover the panel.
- The cabinet was added about a year ago when we remodeled the main bathroom, but as you can see, hasn't been painted yet. The wood counter is also waiting to be finished.
- The plan is to add shelves and/or cabinets above the counter for my gardening supplies. (Update: See the finished shelves here!)
- Our freezer is next to the cabinets and I love having it inside. I disguised the ugly front with chalkboard paint and picture molding and use the chalkboard to keep track of what I have in there. (Go here to see more about how I use this chalkboard)
- All of the new area (except the hall where we were trying to match the existing wood floor) is maple plywood. It is a hardwood plywood that we found at a discount lumber store here and we did all the floors for about .54 a square foot.
- I hand painted the laundry/mudroom floors in a green-and-cream checkerboard pattern - the same floor I had done in our bungalow's kitchen that I had so loved (same colors and everything). I was so in love with this floor- the color, the pattern, it just made my heart sing.
Did I mention that this was a mudroom? And we live in the country? Yea, not exactly the color to hide mud and dirt.
Then we got a dog and I realized that light painted floors and dog toenails do not mix.
My heart is mysteriously quiet now, and I'm thinking a lovely shade of brown is in our future...