How to convert a garage into living space

No need to buy new in order to gain more living space - convert your garage into extra liveable square footage in your home. Whether for a home office, living room, or in-law suite, converting a garage is a sustainable and more affordable way to live large in an existing space.

So many of us are tempted to dump our current homes for new ones like we dump electronics - as soon as we see version 2.0 we want it. My firm belief is that you can usually get creative about acquiring the space, functionality and style you want in your current home, without buying or building new. It's just plain good sense - it saves you money and it's much more sustainable for our already sprawling communities and our lovely planet.

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Friends in Ottawa are thinking about doing just this, by creating a master suite in the garage of their bungalow, thereby not only creating more functional space for them (bigger closets, ensuite bath) but also allowing for a bigger bedroom for their growing little boy, who will soon need a bigger space for studying and hanging out with friends.

I also heard from a sweet friend in Calgary recently who has rented a room in the attached garage of a house near the university where she works, and she is so happy with the living space - which is private when she wants it, but also communal since she shares the kitchen with the owners. She gets an affordable and cozy home to rent, and the homeowners are making an income from their property and will be able to use the finished space as their own down the road. Win-win.

If you have an under-used garage (ie. a storage dump for things you never use!) think about cleaning it out, donating the "stuff" and making your home more spacious, organized and comfortable. Your life will never be the same!

A few tips:

1. Maximize light so that it doesn't feel dark and cold. Open up new windows on the sides or back if possible, and perhaps keep the large front door space as a big sliding door or window. Also, add lots of good lighting, like pot lights and  floor lamps. 

2.  If you don't have a finished space above the garage, vault the ceilings to open them up, simply paint the boards and beams white, and therefore make it feel more spacious.

3. You can probably get away with a mini system for heating and cooling if your garage isn't tied into the main system for the house. There are lots of options now available.

Check out these great ideas for extending living space into the garage (click photos for source).

Kelly Anderson

Refreshed Designs

A re-designer focused on natural, sustainable and holistic design.