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If you no longer use your garage for a car or simply want extra living space, repurpose it.
A garage makeover can be as simple as redecorating or as complicated as a full-scale conversion to an in-law apartment. Turning garages into home offices has been a popular option during the coronavirus pandemic, experts say, but other uses include a larger kitchen, yoga studio, crafts room, children's playroom or entertainment center.
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It might take a little elbow grease — nearly two-thirds of Americans have a garage or carport, but only about a quarter of them can park a car in it because of clutter, a 2015 survey from Gladiator GarageWorks found. But the effort can expand your living space.
"It's the kind of thing people are talking about now with everyone home trying to use their home better,” says VW Fowlkes, half of the architect couple behind Fowlkes Studio in Washington, D.C.
Regina Samani, 68, was living with her son and daughter-in-law in Los Angeles, but with a second grandchild on the way, they converted the garage into a separate living unit for more space and privacy. They don't miss the garage because they park their cars in the driveway.
"It's very nice,” says Samani, who moved into the apartment last year. “It doesn't even look like a former garage."
Before beginning on a garage project, check with your zoning or building department to determine if a building permit is needed. If you belong to a homeowners association, check the rules.
If you plan to use the space year-round, you may need to install insulation and a mini-split heating and cooling system. If you plan to power bright lights, kitchen appliances or many electronics, you may need to upgrade the electrical system. First, check if the garage can piggyback on your home wiring or ventilation system.
That said, here are six ideas for a garage makeover.
1. Home office
Paint the walls white or a bright color and add some bookshelves, good lighting and a large table for a desk, and voilá! Ron Cohen, a garage conversion expert and cofounder of Pearl Remodeling in Los Angeles, recommends painting the floor, adding an epoxy coating to the concrete or installing a peel-and-stick vinyl floor. Keep it uncluttered and professional looking for Zoom meetings.