Every room in a house has a purpose, a raison-d’être that makes it as unique as it is essential. Some are set in stone (or marble), like kitchens and bathrooms, while others are more flexible, like the extra bedroom that doubles as an office. As for the garage, it’s a bit of a unique case.
Often overlooked, the garage can be an unexpected point of interest as well as a great investment when designed right. “A residential garage shouldn’t be overlooked as it, unfortunately, too often is. Homeowners tend to forget that they paid for it when they bought their house, and it’s also the largest heated room of the house,” says Roberto Wilson, co-founder of Espace Garage Plus, a custom garage designer in Terrebonne.
By Ursula Leonowicz, originally published in New Homes + Condos section of the Montreal Gazette on Saturday June 1, 2019.
Moe Saad, the owner and sales director of Solution Garage Doors, which specializes in garage door installation and repair, agrees. “Studies show that replacing your garage door can contribute to up to five times the return on your investment so if you put in $1,000, it’ll be worth $5,000,” he said. “It’s one of the smallest investments you can make for the biggest return.” “(The garage) shouldn’t be used as a cluttered shed, full of garbage and dirt. to get the most for their money, homeowners should invest in their garage in proportion with the overall value of their home.” Says Roberto Wilson. Expanding the overall footprint of your home by increasing your living, working, and storage space in the garage is what Espace Garage Plus is all about — as its name implies. The first step is making a list of some possible uses — such as an office, playroom, gym, workshop or music studio — as well as accounting for how many cars it will need to accommodate. “Our job is to grow the garage from the inside. The proposed plan should be in line with what the homeowners are looking for and the available surfaces, as well as their budget,” Wilson said. “We start by having a conversation to understand their needs and then we document everything by taking reference photos and measurements. We then proceed with the design; we use 2D software to realistically illustrate the proposed plan and cost it.”
As for deciding how to use the garage, that’s the fun part. “I’d say a good 80 to 90 per cent of homeowners are using their garage door as the main entrance to the house; not a lot of people are going through the front door anymore,” said Saad. “The kids who come home from school, they walk in through the garage door so there’s no keys that go missing. It makes it easier to bring your bike in and out, as well as your groceries, so a lot of people use it for their shoes and coats, like a vestibule.” If you plan on using the garage door as your main entrance, or even if you don’t, choosing the right garage door is of prime importance. “Garage doors themselves are changing these days,”Saad said. “In the city, everything is about the modern look. We have black, charcoal, commercial brown, very dark colours, where they contrast with the rest of the house. We’ve been doing a lot of doors with windows on one side, to give it a modern look. Sometimes no design at all — just a flat door with no embossments, nothing, super minimalist. A lot of people are going for that look now.” In more rural areas, “we install more barn style doors; it’s still a garage door, but it looks like a barn door. Without windows, a garage isn’t really an environment that you want to be in,” Saad said. “But with natural light, it’s an entirely different story; it completely changes the look of the door as (it does) the feeling in the garage.”
If you want to use your garage for more than just parking, or if you have so much stuff that you can’t even use it to park your car anymore, getting organized is the next step “Properly organized, a garage can be used to accommodate the different needs a family might have. Clean your garage. Throw or give away items that you don’t use anymore, and only keep those that you really need,” Wilson said. “The first step is making a list of some possible uses (of the garage) …. Getting organized is the next step.”
“Overhead storage racks made out of steel — fixed or motorized — are the way to go to warehouse seasonal items. The ceiling is a good place to use for that purpose, considering some of these items are used only once or twice a year.” If your garage has particularly high ceilings, you can also use it to store seasonal vehicles with a car lift. “We’re seeing a lot of people with high garage ceilings and they’ve been installing car lifts inside, to store their summer cars,”Saad said “For that, we have garage doors that go all the way to the ceiling, to allow a car lift to be installed.” Depending on the size and configuration of the garage, most workspaces — whether they’re dedicated to automotive work, home renovations or even arts and crafts — should find themselves along the garage’s back wall. “A workspace can include a sink and faucet, or not, as well as a good size and solid countertop with proper overhead lighting. Cabinets with multiple drawers are also handy to store a plethora of practical hand tools close by, as well as multiple electrical outlets to plug all sorts of tools and accessories. Finally, as with all other aspects of life these days, there’s technology — or, more specifically, myQ — which makes it possible to control your garage door from anywhere in the world — or two blocks away from your house, which is where most clients are when they begin to wonder if they closed it or not,” Moe Saad said. “You also receive a message every time the garage door is opened, so you can check up on the kids or let a delivery person in,” he said. As of April 2019, Amazon Prime members in the U.S. can have their packages delivered directly inside their garages, if they have a myQ-compatible garage door opener. “And as for garage door motors, they’re also starting to come with additional, built-in features like battery backup, LED lighting, and motion detectors for automatic lighting. They’re super quiet as well.”