A garage is just a garage, a home for your car, right? Well, no, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, most modern garages have quickly become “man caves” where weekend project people go to get out of the house without traveling far from home.

If your garage is still just a garage and not something you think about sitting in, maybe it’s time you did a few upgrades on this structure. After all, a garage has a lot more potential than you may realize. Here’s how to design a garage you’ll actually want to spend more time in and use for something other than a “car house.”

Decide What You Want to Use It For and Start From There

Let’s say you want to repurpose your garage into part garage, part workshop and part detached den for TV viewing and quiet space. You will want to make sure it is comfortable in terms of temperature as well as keeping enough space available for the workbench area and your car. Usually the space that is left after you pull your vehicle inside is the space you have to work with. If you have a garage that is double-wide, that’s even better. You can use the extra six to eight feet of space on one side of your vehicle and to the front of your vehicle to make your own personal recreational and project space.

Insulation, Heating and Cooling

While most cities and townships prevent you from building a second smaller house on your property, they do not forbid you from insulating, heating and/or cooling a garage. If your garage has bare walls that have never been insulated and you can see the stud boards, this is an easy thing to do.

  1. Use rolled insulation of R19 or higher to fill the gaps between the vertical stud boards.
  2. Attach larger boards over the stud boards to cover the open walls. It works best to use a nail gun with large diameter brads to secure the boards over the insulation and stud boards.
  3. If you want, plaster the newly insulated and covered walls and paint to create a nice interior to your garage.

Heating your garage isn’t difficult either. It will require selecting a corner of the garage into which you can install an electric heater – home heating specialist Leslie Phillips recently published a great article with more insight into the matter. Electric is best for garages because it doesn’t take much to connect the heater/furnace to the incoming electrical lines already in the garage. Electrical heaters/furnaces are also less likely to cause gas leaks and blow up.

Along with having a professional HVAC technician or contractor install the heater, you will need ventilation. Run the air ducts along the ceiling of the garage near the walls to prevent your opening and closing garage door from interfering with the ducts. The vents on the sides of the ductwork will feed hot air into the garage, making it cozy during cooler and colder months when you may still want to use the garage for projects.

If you want to take your new garage design and remodeling project a step further, ask the HVAC person to install air conditioning and a thermostat. Then the garage will be comfortable all year long no matter the weather or temperature.

With Walls In Place, Add On

Now that you have actual walls and the means to control the temperature when you need to, it’s time to add other features you want. A workbench can fit either at the back of the garage or along the side of the garage. If you construct and add the workbench on the side, you can hang a flat-screen TV on the back wall of the garage and put a couple of comfortable chairs and a small table in front of it, with or without your car behind you.

As you construct the workbench, keep in mind that it needs to be a table at about waist height with four legs. The back portion of the side edge of the table will be bolted to the stud boards in your garage’s walls to secure the workbench and prevent it from rocking. Then you can add pegboards to the walls to hang tools. You can also skip this and opt for an entire garage workshop wall that comes with a built-in work surface and tons of cabinet storage. It just depends on what you want to construct.

Add Other Creature Comforts

Other creature comforts are a refrigerator or freezer for storing drinks and snacks, fans to blow on you if you aren’t installing A/C, and/or a music sound system. There isn’t a thing you can’t add to a garage if you really want it and that’s the fun part of designing a garage makeover/remodel.