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10 Things Nobody Tells You About Garage Design

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10 Things Nobody Tells You About Garage Design

February 26, 2019

A garage is as much a part of your garden as your roses or your raised beds. After all, which is more of a landscape focal point year-round?

Good news, garages can be more glamorous than you think. (You’ll see what we mean when you get to the photos below.) With a thoughtful design, a garage also can add curb appeal, storage, and value to a home.

Are you designing a garage from scratch? Or fixing a fixer upper? Whether yours is a detached garage or connected to the house–as many as 75 percent of garages are also the entry point for a homeyou can make the space pleasing as well as practical.

Read on for 10 things nobody tells you about designing a garage:

1. A garage should match the house.

On the edge of town in Concord, Massachusetts, even &#8\2\20;the outbuildings on the property also reflect the historic character of the area,&#8\2\2\1; writes Justine. Read more in Garden Visit: A Revolutionary Landscape in Concord, MA.
Above: On the edge of town in Concord, Massachusetts, even “the outbuildings on the property also reflect the historic character of the area,” writes Justine. Read more in Garden Visit: A Revolutionary Landscape in Concord, MA.

A detached garage should look like it belongs to the house. Match the architectural style  of the house with such details on the garage as identical window trim, roof pitch, and paint.

2. A garage should stay in scale.

Here&#8\2\17;s the flip side of the garage shown in the photo above. Photograph by Justine Hand.
Above: Here’s the flip side of the garage shown in the photo above. Photograph by Justine Hand.

A garage should be an accessory to the house–and not the other way around. Make sure it’s smaller, lower, and more modest than the main building.

3. You can dress up a garage door.

See more of this garage in A Garage Converted into a Compact Guest Cottage, Courtesy of Mark Lewis on Remodelista.
Above: See more of this garage in A Garage Converted into a Compact Guest Cottage, Courtesy of Mark Lewis on Remodelista.

Maybe your garage door needs nothing more than a new coat of paint. Or maybe it needs to be replaced. If the latter, don’t despair: a new garage door is an investment piece—and not a fake investment piece like an expensive coat or a designer handbag. If you replace your garage door, you can expect to recoup more than 98 percent of the cost when you sell your house, according to a 2018 survey conducted by Remodeling Magazine.

4. You can hide a garage in plain sight.

Above: A garage with a green roof is “tucked into the earth so you wouldn’t notice it and it wouldn’t distract you from the view,” says architect Alan Barlis. See more in Architect Visit: A Natural Pool and Passive House in New York’s Hudson Valley. Photograph by Reto Guntli.

A slope is your friend if you want to make a garage disappear. Plant a green roof for additional camouflage.

5. You can soften a garage’s silhouette with shutters.

Above: See more of this garage in Landscape Architect Visit: Clamshell Alley on the Coast of Maine. Photograph by Matthew Cunningham.

Why can’t a garage look more like a house? Answer: it can. Shutters, operable windows, and a fresh coat of paint will go a long turn toward creating curb appeal.

6. A garage can make a grand entrance. Or at least have one.

See more of this garage in Landscape Architect Visit: A Classic Lake Michigan Summer House by Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp. Photograph courtesy of Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp.
Above: See more of this garage in Landscape Architect Visit: A Classic Lake Michigan Summer House by Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp. Photograph courtesy of Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp.

Forget the sad driveway of cracked concrete or lumpy black asphalt with visible repair seams. Permeable pavers (as shown above) can add texture; tufts of grass add more than a touch of green. Read more in Everything You Need to Know About Driveways.

Gravel driveways make a nice crunch when you arrive home. Ribbon driveways “usually consist of two parallel tracks paved with a hard material and separated by an unpaved area,” writes our contributor Jeanne Rostaing. Read more in Hardscaping 101: Ribbon Driveways.

7. A garage should feel like a destination.

A ribbon driveway has permeable pavers and a planting bed of succulents and low-growing ground covers. See more at Required Reading: Private Gardens of the Bay Area. Photograph by Marion Brenner.
Above: A ribbon driveway has permeable pavers and a planting bed of succulents and low-growing ground covers. See more at Required Reading: Private Gardens of the Bay Area. Photograph by Marion Brenner.

If your garage is attached to your house, chances are the garage door faces the street. It can look either like a gaping hole in the facade, sucking life out of the rest of the architectural style of your home or …. like a destination. Train vines to grow around it like a frame. Get creative with paint. Point the way with a driveway that’s in bloom.

8. You can turn a garage door into a window.

Above: In San Francisco, a a glazed garage door designed by SF-based contractor Jeff King is made of an aluminum frame with transparent glazed windowpanes encourages daylight to enter. Photograph by Paul Dyer. See more in A Carport Makes a Difference.

With transparent panes, a garage door suddenly gives off welcoming light.

9. Garage storage can be as stylish as the shelving in your living room.

From Ikea, a four-section Hejne Shelving unit is \$\15\2. See more of our top picks in \10 Easy Pieces: Budget Garage Shelving.
Above: From Ikea, a four-section Hejne Shelving unit is $152. See more of our top picks in 10 Easy Pieces: Budget Garage Shelving.

A tidy, organized, visually pleasing garage is important–especially if you live in one of the 75 percent of homes where garages are an entry point to the indoors. After you assemble the shelving, see 10 Easy Pieces: Garage Storage Bins for the fun part.

10 A garage should welcome you home with open arms (and doors).

Above: “The building’s use of aged and gathered materials, its unusual lantern-like brickwork, and its congruence with regional farm vernacular make it quite unlike any other garage around,” writes Meredith. See more in Outbuilding of the Week: A Garage in the German Countryside.

On a garage the biggest design element is …. the door. Or doors. Oversize doors. Doors that swing open. Doors that make a statement. This is one way to set your garage apart and make it welcome you home every day.

See more design ideas in our Hardscape 101 guides, with Driveways 101. Read more:

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