By Kim Armstrong
Interior Designer, Kim Armstrong Interior Design
It is said that “a kitchen is the heart of the home,” “kitchens and baths sell homes,” and “if you’re going to do any upgrades, put your money into the kitchen.” This is not breaking news!
So what is it that will separate your home from every other home in the neighborhood? Perplexed? The answer lies with the male half of our population. Yes, those beings that carry the XY chromosomes and seek the perfect Man Cave. But I am talking about the “Original” man cave, the garage. That’s right, the garage!
The garage is the overlooked, forgotten, dumping ground space. That square footage where things end up getting stored, pitched, and lost. But the garage doesn’t have to the black hole of your home; it can actually be a huge asset! Its time to share the SECRET. The garage is usually a large forgotten area that, when thoughtfully considered, can elevate your living experience, or be the very unique feature that sets your home apart on the real estate market. I’ve known some women who have used this under-appreciated area as a bargaining tool to get what they want in other areas of the home. I have no personal experience on this (wink, wink) but I promise you, a well-designed garage will transform your life.
When designing your garage, I have five key factors to consider:
You want to be able to walk out into your garage with bare feet and have a nice surface that isn’t dirty. Make sure you get a nice industrial strength covering for your floor. There are a couple of options appropriate for garage flooring for you to consider. (And NO, the old carpet my grandparents always had in every garage they owned did NOT make the list!)
My two top picks for garage floors are rubber flooring or a high-end epoxy coating. Rubber flooring is low maintenance, water resistant, and it comes in a variety of great colors. If you use this flooring, make sure you get a textured surface rubber flooring, because the smooth surfaces can become quite slippery when wet. My other top pick for garage flooring is an epoxy coating. This is what we opted for in our own personal garage. I love this option because it’s seamless, and we were able to customize the epoxy color and the flake selection. If you go the epoxy route, make sure you do your homework. There are some “bargain” options out there, but you may regret your decision after a few months when you notice your floor peeling and flaking. Do your homework on this one. We used JD with Custom Garage Works and were pleased with the results. (Tell him Kim sent you!)
Of course the garage is quarters for tools, sports equipment, and general overflow of storage, but that doesn’t mean it has to look junky and unorganized. Everything looks better behind closed doors. So invest in some durable, nice-looking cabinets that you can close off the mess. Cabinets that go from floor to ceiling provide tons of storage needs, and adjustable shelves give you some flexibility on the items you store.
I would also recommend that you float your cabinets a few inches off the ground if possible, so if you hose down your garage floor, it won’t ruin your cabinets. There are some items in your garage that are not best stored in cabinets. Things like shovels, bikes, rakes, and other bulky items. There are tons of specialty hooks and options on how hang these garage items. I am particularly fond of the slat wall system for these types of storage needs.
Besides storage needs, the garage is one of the most multi-purpose areas of your home. Think about all the tasks that are performed in the garage, or could be performed if your garage was a nice space to spend time in. Do you need a work bench? A gym? A spot for those vintage cars? A hobby area for jewelry or pottery? When designing your upgraded garage space make sure to plan for all these special activities appropriately. There are so many tasks that a garage is a perfect setting for, so make sure you think this through and plan accordingly.
OK, I’ll admit — there is nothing worse than a beautifully designed space that has insufficient lighting. A garage can be beautiful, thoughtfully organized, but if you can’t see what you are doing when you actually need to USE the space than all that planning and investing isn’t really paying off. In our own garage, we actually installed LED can lights. With enough of these lights they give an even spread and they don’t use a lot of energy so they don’t get too hot. It’s a bit of an upgrade, but it was important for my husband that he be able to see when he polishes up the car at night, or for cleaning up his guns for dove season. (Yes, he is a true East Texas kind of guy!) So just make sure that you consider this very important feature when planning your garage upgrade.
5. Luxury Extras
So, you have your garage all planned out, it has increased functionality designed specifically for you, the lighting plan is perfect, all your storage needs are covered, and things are really coming together. Well, don’t just stop there! Elevate your garage one more step — make it the true envy of the neighborhood — and add some luxury extras!
Have an adult beverage fridge! I mean who wants to walk “all the way inside” to grab a Shiner when you can have it right at your fingertips. And you don’t want to miss the big game while doing some of your weekend chores, so how about adding a TV so you can cheer for every touchdown the Cowboys score. What about getting in the groove as you’re jamming to your favorite bands blaring through your surround sound. Take the extra step and consider what elements would elevate your garage to equal luxury for you, and implement those ideas. You definitely will not regret it!
Follow these key points in designing your very attractive, useful, (leveraging power for you ladies) garage, and you will be sure to set your house apart from your neighbors. Or if nothing else, make a great place for the hubbys and their buddies to hang out. Proof in point this really works; check out a text my husband received from one of his friends below! I can see more bonuses here than even listed!
Kim Armstrong is a sought-after interior designer based out of Little Forest Hills, a neighborhood that is as colorful and whimsical as Kim’s own designs. A former competitive soccer player, Kim takes her drive and commitment with her as she transforms homes and offices all over North Texas. Find out more about her firm and how to arrange a consultation on her website.