Creative Ways to Change Up Your Garage (Part 1)

An Article by Murph, a True Garage Junkie 

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine the other day about how the pandemic of 2020-2021 had essentially forced many, if not most, people to stay at home so much that their own homes could feel like a prison. Not a pretty thought, if you ask me. Our conversation continued into the realm of how to turn a home prison into something that was immeasurably more fun.  

The obvious solutions were for card games and a bigger flat screen television in the living room, but the confines of the home didn’t change much. One was still looking at the same dimensions of the domestic prison. My friend lamented that he couldn’t afford to add a room to the house and that he guessed he was stuck with the current household incarceration. I humorously mentioned that he could always use the garage. 

In hindsight, his eyebrows suddenly raising up like the golden arches at a popular hamburger joint should have been a clue, but I didn’t catch it at the time. I continued to sip on my adult beverage of choice while my friend slowly got to his feet and wandered toward his garage. I recognized his intuitive stupor and became concerned. As I consider myself to be a responsible and caring person, I followed him to the garage. (Well, I stopped by the fridge on my way for a replenishment adult beverage, so maybe I’m not quite that responsible but rather a work in progress. Baby steps.) 

Lockdown made us all stir crazy. We couldn't go anywhere - even when we desperately needed to for some general sanity. But what if some new scenery was as close as the room next door? What if your garage could be reimagined into a place to entertain or get away from it all?

Garage Baseline 

My friend’s garage is pretty much typical in that it was already being used in a multi-use fashion.  His wife’s car was in there, but so were a lot of boxes, hand tools, the occasional bucket, camping gear.  It was like a closet on steroids.   

I watched him wander about and could see him doing mental calculations in his head.  I imagined this being like watching cavemen discover fire for the first time.  He nodded his head slowly up and down and continued to allow his mind to wander about. He would sometimes hesitate as he looked at a particular corner or section of wall, as if he were designing a masterpiece or planning a prison break.  Probably the latter.  Made sense to me.  I wasn’t prepared, however, when he turned to me and asked, “What would you do?” 

Oh, please, dear sweet baby Jesus, do not let me answer that question. 

I choked a bit while taking a sip of my adult beverage.  “Ummm…,” I stammered.  “What do you mean?” 

“If you had the money and time, what would you do?” 

Pandora’s Box has officially been opened… 

What Would I Do to Re-imagine a Garage? Well . . . 

Getting creative with modifying a garage for expansion of a home for entertainment purposes can be interesting. Planning such an expansion requires some forethought into the wants/needs of the owner.  What would the primary, and possibly secondary, purpose(s) of the garage be?  To open some discussion, I decided to break it down into different categories. My first three inclinations –  

  1. Big Screen Entertainment for Family and Friends
  2. Sporting Events Hub
  3. Spiritual and Emotional Get-Away

Modifying a garage for entertainment of friends and family is actually fairly easy to contemplate – that’s because it’s easy to imagine what could be to your advantage.  The difficulty arises when one starts to realize that you may not be able to put ALL of your ideas into the same enclosure.  Due to that fact, it makes sense to assess your needs/wants and work from there. 

Creative Garage Use #1 – Big Screen Entertainment for Family and Friends 

I guess it’s easy to say that most people look at the home as a basecamp for their family first and friends running a close second.  This could not have been emphasized more since the recent global pandemic.   

I personally was impacted in discovering just how mobile I am in life.  I never realized how much I do for other people and how much that keeps me rolling. My life was kind of a series of ‘pit-stops’ between work, taking care of family members, finding entertainment for myself, hunting, camping, fishing…  You name it, I did it.  Then came the pandemic, which subsequently found my mobile lifestyle seriously upended, but being the 63-year-old stud that I am, I persevered.  (Okay, so maybe I’m not that much of athlete anymore, but I said it and it stands. Fight me.)   

I continued to do as much as I could for my loved ones and friends who were now in lockdown, but the options for entertainment were seriously reduced or, to be more accurate, completely eliminated.  I wasn’t able to simply stop off at a restaurant for a quick bite or, God forbid, take the family out for dinner! Everything was closed!  

Lockdown made me think of how the home garage can be an escape of its own. A two-car garage is quite spacious and can accommodate quite a few people.  And it’s different.  Yes, I know that sounds somewhat naïve, but it’s true.  Sometimes people need that simple change of scenery, and a garage is fluid in how it can appear and be utilized.  Don’t like what you’ve done with it?  Change it up! 

The Garage as Your Own Personal Movie Theater 

I’ve known people who have momentarily converted the garage into a movie theater. No, it did not require purchasing a big 84-inch flat screen, but rather a relatively inexpensive projector for a 100-inch screen to be temporarily mounted on a wall.  Gather up the kitchen chairs, lawn chairs, couple of bags of popcorn, ice chest with your favorite sodas (or adult beverages, wink, wink), and set down to enjoy your favorite movie from a streaming service that you probably already have access to at home.   

This little device is compatible with Androids, iOs, HDMI input from a laptop, etc.  It is truly one of the coolest things I’ve seen and portable enough that you could also take it camping.  Win-win. 

Another added benefit is this type of entertainment is typically very good in keeping the noise down to a minimum inside the home. You have members of the family who would prefer to not engage in movie night and would rather stay inside for quiet time, then the garage movie night option is ideal.  

You see, the walls between the house and the garage are typically heavily built and insulated, thus providing better sound-dampening than interior walls. Go crazy and have fun without bothering the other residents of the house.   

If you decide to keep the garage door open on a very pleasant night, so much the better.  The neighbors might get upset that they weren’t invited, but that just gives you an opportunity to get to know them better. 

Creative Garage Use #2 – The Garage as Hub for Sporting Events 

I have more than a few friends that are absolutely addicted to sports. Some are with football, some with baseball, others with basketball.  And when I say ‘addicted’, I truly mean there is an element, nay, a thirst, to their lives that cannot be quenched.  

Some have lost their jobs to an offensive text on their phones that drove them to an outrageous display of anger that management felt inappropriate.  Not always anger, though.  One coworker was so excited over his team winning an international soccer match that he took off his shirt and went running bare-chested throughout the building screaming, “Goooooaaaallll!!!”, at the top of his lungs.  While I admire his tenacity, probably not the best thing to do in a hospital. 

You get the picture.   

So, for those individuals who cannot live without their sports, the garage is a wonderful place to kick back and shout encouragement to your team or to curse the enemy into oblivion.  

Garage walls are a blank palette to the athletic mind.  Posters of your favorite team, dartboards for your hated team, a repository for memorabilia, multiple, yes, I said multiple flat screen televisions.  I know of more than a few people who absolutely hate to channel-hop and with prices of flat screens being so incredibly low these days, who can’t resist the urge to have their very own sports bar? 

You will, however, need to resist the temptation of charging people a cover charge for admission.  Pretty sure that puts you in the land of requiring a liquor license and no one wants to go down that particular road in a residential neighborhood, but what a great way to become the cool neighbor on the street!  And feel free to rip off your shirt and proudly scream at the top of your lungs at how well your team performed.  Women may want to be more reserved with this practice but, hey, I won’t judge. 

Creative Garage Use #3 – The Spiritual and Emotional Get-Away 

Regardless your religious inclination, I think most would agree that there is a spiritual element to human beings. I know more than a few people who are spiritual in nature. Some ascribe to an organized religion, and others simply have a love of nature and solitude that is separate from any kind of faith. To each their own, but one element of commonality is being able to actually relax in an environment that allows contemplation, relaxation, or simply being able to remove oneself from the realities of civilization. It refreshes you in ways that send you back to your normal routines better than you were. 

For myself, my happy place is out in the woods with a fishing rod in my hands and an adult beverage in the cooler beside me.  Mind you, I don’t have to actually catch any fish to have a good time, but it’s critical for me to be able to unwind.  So, when I’m stuck in the city and can’t leave for a while, where can I go to get some peace and quiet where I can relax and think?  Maybe just to read a book, read my Bible, or watch a show on my tablet in peace?

Find Your Relaxing Space 

Like I watched my friend turn over, the garage can be this untapped gold mine for a completely new room. I can tailor my garage to match my tastes and lifestyle in ways that go beyond parking and storage.   

Remember how I mentioned those sturdier and insulated walls preventing residents in the house from hearing my antics in the garage?  Works both ways. I can typically relax without hearing the sounds from inside the house.  It can be transformed into a Fortress of Solitude for reflective moments for just about any reason.   

And really, all it takes is the sequestration of an area in the garage that allows for a chair, a desk, a table. And all that can be portable and temporary, to be sure, but it remains something that can provide an acceptable ambience for relaxation. 

A final touch to the environment – put in a calming, ambient water fountain. Now that I think about it, that’s not a bad idea for me. I can sit in quiet repose with an adult beverage in one hand and a fishing pole in the other, listening to sounds that remind me of a northern Arizona mountain stream. Put up some nature art on my wall, open the side entry door and voila! I save on gas, collect my thoughts, and can get back to life with a smile on my face. 

Wait! Wait! I wasn’t Done! 

What?! My time is up? But I wasn’t finished. You’re going to cut me off before I got to the best section? . . . Make it a Part 2? You guys are asking a bit much.  

Sigh. Okay, stay tuned for Part 2, folks.