If I asked you to guess which part of the home usually wins the “most neglected” prize, what would you say?
If you picked the garage, you’re right on the money. Garages have a tendency to turn into bottomless pits, accumulating clutter from all over the house. And with as little use as most people get from these spaces, I totally understand the growing trend of converting them into bedrooms or family rooms.
But if you’ve got an eye on resale value, a garage conversion is not actually such a good idea. This type of home improvement project is one of the worst returns on investment you can make. According to a National Association of Realtors report, 78% of homebuyers in 2013 opted for houses with garages. And in places (like Northern Virginia) with cold, wet winters, garages are often in even more demand. So how should you utilize all that space?
An Organized Storage Area
That same NAR report reveals that most homebuyers wish they had larger closets and more storage. So if you have an eye on home value, why not convert your garage into the mecca of all storage systems? Built-in cabinetry around three walls, with adjustable shelving and custom design, will give you an organized space that keeps clutter at bay—and frees up a ton of room in the rest of your house.
How much room? Garage storage cabinets give you a designated spot for:
Holiday decorations. I drove through Northern Virginia over Halloween weekend, so I know how much area residents love decorating! But lights, projectors, and inflatable characters require a lot of room.
Presents you’re saving. If you’re a shopper (like me), or if you’ve got kids (also like me), you probably have a stockpile of “just in case” gifts for unexpected birthdays or early Christmas presents. The garage is a more out-of-the-way hiding spot than your bedroom closet, and you can even install a locking cabinet system for added secrecy.
Outgrown toys and baby supplies. Parents sometimes run into situations where kids have outgrown their toys but another baby is on the horizon. Walkers, strollers, and play mats take up a lot of space in the closet or playroom and can be stored (and kept in good condition) in enclosed garage cabinets instead.
Camping gear. Northern Virginia has tons of beautiful campgrounds, so I understand why camping is such a popular pastime. Keep items like camping backpacks, sleeping bags, and tents stored on a sturdy hook system in your garage so that they’re out of the way but still get enough air to avoid mildew.
Rarely used items. I’m thinking about things like the roasting pan you only use for Thanksgiving, or the Vitamix blender that you got as a wedding gift but have never opened. These things cause a lot of kitchen clutter and can be kept on adjustable shelves in your garage instead.
A More Functional Mud Room
If you have a little space left over, you can also designate one part of your garage as a family mud room. Mud rooms often aren’t given the attention they deserve but are another great way to free up space in the rest of your house (and often don’t require much room themselves).
I’d suggest adding bench seating to the section of your garage that’s closest to the entry door, with shelving above and beneath for hats, gloves, and footwear. This gives everyone a place to sit as they bundle up, helps reduce early morning traffic jams by the front door,and frees up space in your hall closet.
This area can also include slide-out chrome baskets for sports equipment, plus hooks for backpacks and coats, so that you’re less likely to trip over these items in the hallway or living room. These additions are small, but they can make the rest of your house feel so much more spacious just because it’s less cluttered.
A Custom Design to Help Your Home Stand Out
Having storage features that are desirable to potential buyers automatically gives you a huge advantage when you’re ready to sell. And since most storage systems take up minimal space, you should still have the ability to park both cars. If you want to take your garage from underutilized and abused to perfectly organized, get in touch with us for a free design consultation!
Lead image credit: Flickr user terren in Virginia (CC BY 2.0)