For months a battle over space has been raging in our homes. Winter is coming, and the fight against COVID-19 is still raging on. Now that it looks more and more likely that we won’t be returning to our offices, it’s time to start thinking outside the box in order to find the space we need to enjoy life as it is. One place we can easily repurpose is the garage.

Did you know that 80% of garage clutter is a result of disorganization? Here are three ways you can declutter your garage and add some functional space to your home.

1. Add a Home Office

If working inside your home isn’t working, it may be time to take it outside and repurpose your garage. With a little sweat equity and a few small financial investments, you can turn your garage into a new office with a great commute. The most important (things) you’ll need to consider are:
Climate control – You’ll be spending a lot of time in this space and you’ll want it to be comfortable. The best way to cool a garage is by using a ductless or mini-split system. This is the most expensive option. If you don’t have the budget for ductless air conditioning or you have a small garage, you can also try a window or portable unit.

Paint – To make your garage less… well, garagey, add a splash of color to the walls and inside of the garage door. This is a relatively inexpensive way to create a more inviting environment.

Lighting – The most comfortable way to light any office, including at home, is to use indirect lighting. Indirect lighting simply means the light bounces from the source to the walls or ceiling instead of directly shining light on your desk. This can be a pendant that provides mostly uplight, sconces that uplight or even a swing arm desk lamp pointed upward. In addition to this ambient light, a task light at the work surface is great for reading documents. Many attractive task lights are available to suit any style of decor.

Furniture – At the very least, you’ll need to pick up a desk and chair. These items can vary greatly in price, but there should be a number of options to choose from at each price point. Depending on your profession, you may also need a few more items, like a couch or additional chairs for when clients or co-workers need to stop by.

2. Create a Relaxing Environment

Climate Control – Similarly to creating an office, repurposing your garage to create a personal oasis will require some climate control. To reiterate, there are 3 main types of AC systems you can choose from. In order of most expensive to least expensive are mini-split, portable, and window mounted systems. If you live in a temperate area, you may be able to get by with just a fan or 2.

Decor – Crumbling gray walls doesn’t make for a very relaxing atmosphere. Adding some color, artwork and maybe a few plants can go a long way.

Lighting – One of the best ways to use lighting to create a relaxing and fun environment is to use color! Many options now exist with color-changing LED lights, most connected to an app on your smartphone to change the color and intensity (dimming). In addition to the colors of the rainbow, most sources can reproduce white light in a range of warm to cool tint. As with an office, indirect light works best, think about lighting the walls or ceiling of your space with that dash of color. For a really fancy look and upscale feel, a light cove can be built around the perimeter of the room or even just one wall. A flexible linear LED source will provide even and soft light from the cove. Don’t forget to add some table or floor lamps for a little added interest to match the decor. Dimming is essential, either install wall switch dimmers or use a plug-in “lamp dimmer”.

Furniture – The furniture you choose for this space is going to depend heavily on its final use. If you’re creating a meditation retreat, a mat and some small speakers may be enough. Conversely, a man cave or lady lounge will require a bigger investment in furniture. To start out, a comfy couch, coffee table, rug, and a TV should get you most of the way there. Then you can take your time to add additional creature comforts like a fridge or bar area.

3. Focus on Your Health

During times like this, it’s not a bad idea to refocus on your health and wellbeing. However, being in a gym may not seem like the best idea at the moment. I, for one, am not keen on being in the same room as people doing cardio and putting aerosols into a shared and enclosed space. If you share my hesitation to return to the gym, then it’s time to repurpose your garage into the home gym you never know you wanted.

Climate Control – The whole point of a workout is to sweat it out. Therefore, you can probably skip the air conditioning and opt for a large fan. If you’re budget-sensitive, skipping out on an expensive unit will free up funds you can put toward equipment.

Lighting – Unlike an office or living room, you’re probably not spending too much time in the gym. Maybe an hour or so a time. In most cases, the current lighting in your garage should be sufficient for this type of use. My garage has the typical fluorescent lighting, which functions fine for workouts.

Equipment – Most of your home gym buildout budget will go towards your equipment. The equipment you chose is going to be personal to you and the type of workouts you enjoy. You can go crazy and spend a lot of money on a Peleton bike and treadmill, or you can opt for a less expensive option and pick up some free weights and a jump rope.

By taking a little time to clean up and organize you can transform your garage into usable space, and maybe even create the next Google. Once you decide which type of space will be most beneficial to you and your family, create a budget, and start building out your perfect space.

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