By Cris Carl, Networx
Garages: they’re not just for cars anymore. Last year I wrote an article about making over your garage if you wanted to have a garage band. I started thinking afterwards that garages can be an untapped gold mine of additional space for a wide range of uses.
There are three things you need to consider if you are thinking of making over a garage: One, always check with your municipality to make sure you have all appropriate permits. Two, make sure whatever you are planning isn’t going to be a big problem for your neighbors. And three, you may need to negotiate with your family members regarding the use of the space, since the may be conflicts about the use of the space. You will also need to think about whether you need water, electricity, heat, additional lighting, and insulation/sound-proofing.
Here are a few ideas to get your juices flowing:
Sewing space for you and/or a small group: Sewing your own clothing, curtains, etc. seems to have become popular again. Recently, three businesses have opened in within 25 miles of where I live offering materials, classes, and space to sew.
Tool haven: In all or a portion of your garage, design a space to house, organize, clean, sharpen, and repair tools. You may want to include tools and machinery you use for yard work. Additionally, you may want to set aside a space set up to work on projects. This is perfect if you are a skilled carpenter in New York City or some other area where workshop spaces are expensive or scarce.
Anything goes play area: Create safe boundaries, such as panels and baby gates. Put down heavy rubber matting. Perhaps have an area with thick carpeting and a comfy chair or bean bag that can be easily cleaned. Bring in the toys and bring on the kids.
Start a bird B&B: In another article about caring for exotic birds, I wrote about Peggy McLeod of Belchertown, Mass. McLeod was well trained in the care of exotic birds and decided to repurpose her garage with sound-proofing and easy-to-clean walls and floors. She put in appropriate shelving and climbing stations to place cages and allow for play and made sure there was plenty of light for her charges, as well as being able to create a dark enough space for the birds to have ample rest after lights-out. In an adjoining area to the garage, she now sells toys, food, and treats for exotic birds.
Craft shop: Whatever your hobby is, it‘s likely you can outfit your garage to accommodate almost any craft you enjoy creating, whether it’s soap box derby cars, model airplanes, re-caning chairs, building furniture, or rigging up a Rube Goldberg Machine.
Small business for your crafts: I’ve known more than one person who turned their garage into a hair salon, a store where they sold their own crafts (one woman made unique, highly detailed clay fairies), a place to sell produce you grow, etc. Not only will you need permits for this type of endeavor, you will likely need to appear before a local board, such as selectmen, to gain approval. You may also need to get written approval from neighbors that live within a certain proximity. Parking and signage are often issues.
No den or basement? You can repurpose your garage as a “man-cave,” or “mom cave.” Everyone needs to get away sometimes, where they can close the door and decompress. A “cave” can be designed to have what comforts you -- which would be very individual choices. Keep in mind if you are planning to put a great sound system or television in your made-over garage, also make sure you have a good security system.
Yoga studio or dance space: A clean space with appropriate flooring, mats, bars, and a sound system. You might need to hire a flooring contractor to install proper flooring for these activities.
Greenhouse or potting studio: You will likely need to work with putting in more windows, grow lights, and work stations for tools, soil, and plant material.
Office space: Again, make sure you also have good security, but your garage could be made over to support a business, a writing career, or the student(s) in your home.