By Megan Martin | Montreal Gazette | June 2, 2018
In decades past, garages were often an afterthought for homebuyers who were eager to focus their attention on areas of the home like kitchens, bathrooms, and main living spaces. Today, however, things are different. Not only are garages considered essential for storage space, they’re also commonly viewed as an extension of the home’s interior; as such, more thought and investment is being put into them in order to maximize their functional and esthetic appeal.
“The mentality is evolving and people more and more see their garage as another full room of their house — as they should,” said Roberto Wilson, co-founder of Espace Garage Plus. “What we see is people looking to upgrade their garage from a plumbing, electrical, heating, lighting, painting, flooring and doors perspective.”
In fact, garage experts are often called in for projects before homeowners even move in.
“It’s generally the easiest time for any kind of garage work as it’s best (done) when the space is empty, which is tougher to do once the house becomes occupied,” said Andrew Wojtczak, president of Garage Outfitters. “The industry now, I think, is comparable to where closets were 10 years ago. Closets used to be an afterthought, but now people spend money on them and think about shelving, storage and so on. Garages are getting to that point. I used to work with almost exclusively affluent clients, but now an organized, clean, custom garage really has mass appeal.”
So what do people want out of their garage space today? Above all else, functionality. First and foremost, people want to be able to park their vehicles in the garage — but without having to make too many compromises when it comes to storage.
“No two families have the same needs and no two garages have the same configuration; hence the role that customization plays in matching the needs with the available space,” Wilson said. “The garage can become the main entrance of the house and, as such, needs to be clean — and easy to clean. It also needs to be both practical and esthetically appealing.”
That’s why mudroom-style spaces in garages have become so popular.
“A sitting area for the kids to use when they’re getting ready, a shelving or basket storage system for their things, counter space for loading or unloading the car, and general closet overflow space are all things our clients are looking for today,” Wojtczak said. “PVC slat wall storage systems are great because they can store everything from T-shirts to kayaks, thanks to their customization.”
Another new shelving trend seeks to maximize previously unused space, by installing fixed metal shelves in areas such as the space above the garage door.
“We’re also doing motorized shelving, which is where the shelves are on a system that the homeowner can control,” Wojtczak said. “It’s great for people who don’t want to have to get on a ladder.”
In addition to shelving, flooring is another garage feature to which people are paying more attention. A popular product for flooring today is polyurea, which is cost-effective, durable, and easy to install. 3D metallic floors are popular as well, especially for those looking to add some flair to their garage space — but they do tend to be more slippery and, as such, aren’t a practical solution for every family, Wojtczak added.
If you’re considering a garage renovation project in the near future, a good way to start identifying your needs is to declutter your space.
Wilson recommends the threepile system. “Put your stuff in three piles,” he said. “Pile 1 is the stuff that does not work anymore and is for the garbage; Pile 2 is the stuff that’s still good but that you don’t need, so that pile can be given to charities; and Pile 3 is the stuff that you would like to organize in your garage. And then call us to get started.”
Depending on how extensive the renovation project is, homeowners should be prepared financially by deciding on an appropriate budget. “We can work with any budget, but to do a decent job in a single garage (you should) figure between $5,000 and $10,000 on average,” Wilson said. “A double garage would (more likely) be $10,000 to $20,000 on average. That said, your budget should always respect your financial comfort zone.”