In the past four or five years, the concept of the multi-functional garage has gained favour in the United States. Now, Canadians are catching on. Since most garages adjoining a home are already insulated and heated, homeowners are now asking how they can optimize that space, which often spans more than 27 square metres. While preserving its primary use as a carport and storage space, the garage can also serve as a workshop, a games-and-fitness room, a laundry room and storage space for extra food. It can even be used for family gatherings and teen evenings in lieu of the basement, which nowadays is often the designated home-theatre space.
Layout, it goes without saying, plays a fundamental role. No one wants to dance with friends or jump on the treadmill amid a jumble of cardboard boxes, ski boots, construction materials and garden hoses. The word from professionals is that the catch-all storage garage will soon be a thing of the past. Today, in some cases, garage design practically falls more aptly under decoration. Many clients are asking for the same type of melamine storage cabinets they have in their dressing rooms or kitchens. But there’s a hitch: While making the garage habitable, you still need to have a practical and usable space that is also well ordered and attractive. A lot of companies are seeing their client base grow with each passing month. And this is just the beginning. Chances are that within a few years, the finished garage will be spoken of in the same breath as the walk-in closet.Storage, storage and more storage
The key to transforming a garage that is used just for storage into a multifunctional room lies in freeing up the floor space by moving most stored items onto the walls and ceiling. Garage design these days is a byword for closed cabinets. With the explosion of the garage-design market, the availability of products specifically intended for the residential garage has expanded by leaps and bounds. Today’s modules come in an assortment of forms and dimensions, making it possible to choose a wide variety of configurations. Stable, resistant, compact and customized to meet personal requirements, the modules feature adjustable shelves and drawers capable of handling heavy loads. The good news for decorators is that these new models are practical and attractive. Between a Formula One mechanic’s workshop look and a high-tech kitchen one with integrated lighting and washtub, these modules are available in hardwood or steel and in a large range of colours and finishes. Prices vary accordingly. And a wall in Ferrari red or with stainless steel cabinets will lend your garage a certain cachet. You won’t be shy about leaving the garage door open!Obviously, a garage is still a garage. Tools and equipment should be easy to locate, which is where wall-mounted systems come into play. These systems have brackets and racks meant to hold everything from hedge-trimmers, fishing rods and tennis racquets to kayaks and stepladders. And with grid-based hanging systems, perforated panels or board panels, there’s no shortage of dimensions, materials and finishes to choose from. On the issue of look and convenience, specialists recommend that objects and materials be grouped by category – leisure activities, doit-yourself, car maintenance and gardening – with the messiest items (garbage bins, lawn mower, snow blower) closest to the garage door and the cleanest areas (laundry, food supplies) located beside the door leading into the house.
Bulky objects and seasonal items can be hung from the ceiling, though wallmounted U-rails may be sufficient. Those who dream of having a garage where guests can be entertained may prefer to invest in industrial storage cabinets, which combine performance with practicality. Though the sturdiest models must be installed by a professional, they can easily handle up to 270 kilograms of, for example, plastic storage containers for those thousands of items that would otherwise clutter up the floor. But don’t forget to identify their contents with stickers to avoid complete confusion. And remember to invite the neighbours to the housewarming party!