In choosing a home, the garage is typically an afterthought. Most prospective buyers check to make sure there’s a garage large enough to store their main vehicles, then they go back to thinking about the house itself. If this is your approach, you may be overlooking a valuable home asset.
Melinda Monroe, president of Architectural Building Arts, has many stories of homeowners with creatively remodeled garages. Sometimes the garage is not in the initial project scope, and her designers recognize the potential of a home’s garage while planning a general remodel. And sometimes the homeowners already have the garage in mind.
This was the case with a Madison couple, who are both musicians and dreamed of a music studio large enough to host small ensemble rehearsals and tiny concerts. They appreciated their one-car, attached garage in cold weather and wanted space for a second car in the winter. The solution turned out to be the addition of a second garage space, which serves as a music studio in warmer weather and converts to a garage in the winter.
The music studio has expansive windows on the side and back walls. A passage door with sidelights fits into the garage door opening during the summer. Natural light fills the space and provides the ambience of a garden concert setting.
Storage in the attic of the new space allows the homeowners to keep everything handy for the winter transformation. A garage door replaces the passage door section and window grills pop into the large windows, matching the home’s other divided lite windows and preparing the home for winter.
A home in a Madison neighborhood with smaller lots came with a flat-roof garage ready for replacement. Although the yard was small, the homeowners wanted a garage and space for outdoor entertaining. Architectural Building Arts incorporated a new garage and patio area into the remodeling plans for the home, being careful to match roof angles and detailing on the garage to the character of the home.
The new garage features carriage-style, overhead garage doors with a classic gooseneck light fixture overhead. A passage door on the side of the garage leads onto a stone-paved patio area tucked in by a small retaining wall.
“Our goal is always to incorporate the new garage into the plan and have it look like it was supposed to have been there,” says Melinda. This is especially evident in a historic home overlooking Lake Mendota on Madison’s east side. A shared driveway fit tightly between the Tudor-style home and the home next door, leading to a shared garage. When Architectural Building Arts was called in to replace an out-of-character addition on the back of the home and open the living space to wide lake views, the designers recognized garage possibilities. Since the home was on a corner, they suggested a new driveway coming from the side street that would lead to a double garage tucked under the new family room and deck.
Each element of the new construction took the historic character and style of the home into consideration. Rooflines, pillars, and deck walls mirror those on the front and side porches, and period railings were crafted to allow views from inside the home. The result is an award-winning addition that restores the home’s original glory while providing generous lake views and the convenience of a two-car attached garage.
Another historic home in Madison’s Vilas neighborhood had a two-car garage that was incompatible with the traditional Arts and Crafts detailing of the stucco home. The garage had been built with a rooftop deck, accessed by an outdoor stairway.
Architectural Building Arts created a wide bridging platform to provide deck access directly from the home’s dining room, and added wood flooring, benches, and planter boxes while restyling the garage’s exterior with stucco and band board to match the home. The owners now enjoy the visual appeal of the outdoor space year-round.
A garage is sometimes the first building seen from the street. This was the case for an A-frame home on Lake Monona. To create a new three-car garage with room for boat storage, Architectural Building Arts’ designers took advantage of the home’s distinctive shape and used steeply pitched peaks and vertical banding to pair it with the home. The new garage welcomes visitors with a fairytale-like structure suggestive of a Tudor cottage.
While the placement and styling of a garage is critical, other improvements make garages easier and safer to use. Adding a stairway up to the garage loft, either inside or outside the garage, allows even aging homeowners to store seasonal items safely. Or you could select a company to help you use the ground floor space of a garage more efficiently.
Tailored Living featuring Premier Garage in Middleton finds that garage storage space is important to homeowners in all stages of life. Families with children are able to better manage the clutter of outdoor toys and sports equipment, and appreciate out-of-reach storage areas for tools and cleaning products. Hobbyists create agreeable studios, practical work areas, and handy tool storage. Serious auto collectors and cyclists relish the thought of storing their prized vehicles in a luxe environment that protects them from scratches and dents.
Well-designed storage closet systems, shelving, and cable lift ceiling racks keep large bulky items accessible. Garage cabinets and open wall storage areas of Gridwall or Slatwall storage systems provide utility and good looks. To add polish to any garage’s interior, Tim Barnett of Tailored Living points out that garage floor finishes can be as beautiful as they are durable. Homeowners can choose from solid colors, a wide variety of stone patterns, and even specially made flexible garage floor tiles.
Besides the usefulness of storage improvements, many homeowners appreciate having a garage space that is welcoming and organized. Since garages are often the last place we leave from in the morning and the first room we return to at night, it makes sense to take a close look at your garage, inside and out, to determine what can be done to create a pleasant space, well-suited to your lifestyle.
Yvette Jones is President of designCraft Advertising in Madison and serves on the board of NARI Madison.
Trust a NARI Professional. These NARI members appeared in this article.
Architectural Building Arts
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) represents people who work in and with the remodeling industry.
NARI professionals are expected to be licensed and insured, educated about current industry standards, ethical, and dedicated to excellent customer service. Contact the NARI Madison office at (608) 222-0670 or at narimadison.org .