If someone were to ask you to design a space that would tell your story or showcase something defining about yourself, where do you think you would start? You may be inclined to do some deep introspective digging, or maybe you can rattle off any number of likes, loves, and interests. Now, I’m going to throw a curveball here. How could you channel that kind of creativity into one of the rooms of your house that isn’t often seen as that kind of blank slate – the garage?
As you already have guessed, the garage is one of the places in my home that I’m most passionate about. And for other garage junkies that I have talked too, their workspace or mancave or car shop is a place to go to unwind and enjoy. The topic I want to discuss today is taking that safe space to the next level. Adding decor that is personally inspiring, makes you smile, pumps you up, or just makes your garage feel more comfortable can put your garage over the top in all the right ways.
Garage décor is something that can give you the freedom to express yourself in a space you already love. Some strategic upgrades can give your garage the feel you want to create for work, hanging out or just to showing off to your neighbors. A customized garage that you enjoy and are proud of can spark creativity and increase productivity with whatever you are doing. The unique possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing for where to start with your garage décor.
Now, for me personally, I like things to look nice, but more so to have utility. So, being honest for a minute, I wrestled a bit with the practicality of spending extra money just for the sake of things looking different. But then again, if I’m spending good amounts of time in my garage (or I’d like to), and the décor I choose makes my work better, and the space even more appealing, why not explore this further? So, my fellow garage junkies – Let’s get started.
3 Reasons for Garage Décor
1. If you spend a lot of time in the garage – you might as well enjoy it!
If you are one of those people who finds themselves out in the garage as much or more as you are in the rest of the house (minus sleeping), then this might be the perfect reason or excuse, if you need one, to explore garage décor. If you are a hobbyist, always wrenching on the car, or are a weekend project warrior, you spend a lot of time in the garage. Why not enjoy your space even more than you already do?
Now you might say, “I do enjoy it”, which is fair. But we also know what it is like when something goes wrong, breaks, fails, or simply causes frustration… it happens to all of us. (I’m not trying to imply here that that garage décor is the fix-all for your project woes). But it might be simply a better place to work when those things eventually happen. It also might be a better place to work in general since it was designed by and for you.
2. Garage Décor can tell a lot about you – your story, your passions, your work, your hobbies
If we were to line up several garages, we might be able to tell what a person does for a living, or as a hobby by what they have stored in their garage. If there is a mechanic in the lineup, even without garage décor, you will be able to tell from the toolboxes, the car jacks, the engine hoist, etc. whose garage this is. Same idea for the woodworker, the gardener, the outdoorsman and the like.
If you want your garage to express more of your story, you might consider your work or hobbies as the focal point for your expanded inspiration. As a mechanic, you could use garage floor tile to make it look like a pit or to spruce up a car bay. As a woodworker, use wood paneling or really get into the garage décor and put up wood planks to make it have the feel of grandpa’s shop. The options are endless.
You can also utilize wall space for some of your trophies. (This doesn’t necessarily have to be a buck’s rack or a collection of actual 5 k medals. But rather, reminders of accomplishments, or proud moments you want to remember.) It can also be a place to showcase collections. Maybe you like to collect shot glasses. Or maybe you are a sports fan and have a collection of baseball bats or team memorabilia. Shadow boxes of old fishing lures or die-cast cars can also be a distinctive feature to add to your wall.
3. It can provide a certain “feel” to your space
People can be inspired and motivated, or the completely repulsed or discouraged by their surroundings. Or, honestly, sometimes we can simply be indifferent. We’re human, and whether we are aware of it or not, outside influences have the power to affect our moods and motivations.
So, when you consider your garage as a workspace, or a hangout space, or workout space, what is the overall feel you want to capture to keep you productive or help you relax? Garage décor can act as a means of helping create an environment that will best suit the entire reason you entered that room to begin with.
This can be accomplished by any number of decorating means. But to simplify, we’ve identified some key areas to look at for giving your garage an extra lift: lighting, color, flooring, wall art, and memorabilia. Later in this article, we will explore each. But first . . .
Before You Start with Your Garage Décor . . .
Sometimes sprucing up your space may mean that some cleaning and organizing is in order before you add that extra décor. I know for a fact that my wife needs a clean space to start with before she gets into a project. Otherwise, she is distracted by the mess and can’t give her best work. If you need some help with where to begin, check out our articles “Tips for a Tidy Toolbox and Workspace” and “Best Garage Storage Solutions.”
Themed Garage Décor?
As we already discussed, the challenge here is to create a space that screams Y-O-U. So, before we get into the nuts and bolts of WHAT to incorporate, let’s start with themes. Specifically, your themes.
What do you already use your garage for? Is it just a place to park the cars and store your Christmas stuff? Or have you already moved the direction of a game room with a foosball table and a dartboard? Or is it your project space for things like woodworking, constructing, or DIYing? Maybe you are a hunter with a (pew pew) safe and a place to reload shells. Or a fitness junkie with your own set of free weights and workout equipment.
Or maybe any one of these things sounds amazing, but you have only dreamed of making that kind of dedicated space in your garage.
Ready-made Themes for Garage Décor Inspiration
Hunting Garage Decor
Hunters have their own rhythms and their own style. A friend of mine is an avid hunter and brings home everything from dove, rabbits, and ducks to deer and elk. His garage is an eclectic mix of hunting trophies and the means by which he brings those prized trophies home. Some things that can put your hunting décor over the top can include some rustic racks to store fishing poles, shotgun shell wall art, or even knotty pine furniture to give the room the feel of an old hunting lodge. Plaid and camo prints are timelessly connected to this pastime and can also be incorporated into furniture, wall art, and even decals.
Vintage Garage Decor
There are a lot of things you can do with your garage décor if you are looking for a vintage feel. Coca-Cola signs are probably one of the easiest to remember, but there are other options too. A classic theme for a vintage feel can be adding décor that throws back to a 50’s diner or ice cream parlor. Or maybe you’d like it to look like an old barbershop, complete with signage and the iconic barbershop spinning sign. What about some sleek framed prints of old American Muscle cars, and old neon signage? This kind of wall art, as the theme is timeless, can be found in antique shops, flea markets, online, or home décor stores.
Sports Fan Garage Decor
Your rival team might have the 12th man, but it does not phase you. They might throw things on the rink to rally the team, but that is just gross. You know, and you are sure your team knows, those rival teams are missing one key thing, your fandom. Your team pride is what tips the scale. If you watch, and coach by yelling at the TV, you can lead your team to victory. So next to your screen that lets you watch the game while you project, show off your team pride with jerseys, color, pennants, framed art, or other sports memorabilia. This is where an accent wall color can really set off a theme as well – complementing your collectibles.
Motors and Cars Garage Decor
If you are a brand loyalist, nearly every motor company has decals, posters, and framed art, and even old parts that can be utilized in some way in creating the “car guy” feel to your garage. Garage floor epoxy or adding paint to the walls in the distinct color of that car brand can also give you the theme you may be looking for. Top it off with a huge decal of the logo to put on the wall or add old signage to match.
For you Harley Davidson fans, the options are – again – nearly endless. The orange and black is iconic, the wall art can be stunning, and a few spare parts polished to make the chrome shine will make your space look amazing.
Western Garage Decor
John Wayne and Clint Eastwood your spirit animals? A western-themed garage may be the direction for you. As this is another timeless theme, especially for us out here in the southwest, there are a lot of fun ideas you can come up with for garage décor. An old saloon with a built-out bar and foot rail could be an amazing upgrade to your entertaining space. Or maybe it’s more ranch-style – horseshoes, saddles, hats, spurs, holsters and old storefront signs.
Movie Theater and Film Garage Decor
If you use your garage for entertaining, or at the minimum have a good-sized TV in there, maybe dedicate a corner to the film and movie theme. This could be posters of your favorite movies or actors you admire. Maybe install a projector and screen and have soundproofing and speakers installed so you can get the theater experience while at home.
Music/ Garage Band Décor
If music and bands are your passion, there are several things you can add to pay homage to your favorites. Now, we know that this theme needs to be approached with some caution, as even if your garage is finished, a lot of musical instruments and collectibles like vinyl need some form of climate control to keep them pristine. But framed posters, neon outlines of guitars, or even some cool acoustic panels can add style in this genre.
Lounge/ Game Room Garage Decor
Lounges and game halls usually have dim lighting, comfortable places to sit, some classy drinks, and a poker pool table ready for a game. This is the more classic feel. Or maybe you’d rather thrown in a huge TV and some kind of gaming console.
Whatever you might envision for relaxing space, there are neat ideas to create this kind of atmosphere of games, hanging out and relaxation.
Elements of Garage Décor
Now that we’ve covered some initial ideas, let’s talk about the elements that can be used in any one of these to really set your theme over the top!
Lighting and Garage Decor
As we all know, lighting typically comes standard in any garage. You need it to see when you get out of your car, go in to find a screwdriver, or when you are working on a project. However, different fixtures can add focal points, mood lighting, or other touches that go way beyond the hum of those florescent lights.
Utility Lighting If utility is more of a priority than aesthetic lighting, there are options for lights that you might want to add to your garage.
There is a guy, I follow on YouTube named Jeremy Siers. In one of his videos, he did a review on some lights he installed into his garage. They were wide shop lights that were on a swivel. He used these to light up dark areas of his garage while he was filming. Turning your garage into a studio may not be your thing, but this kind of lighting was focused and provided some great utility.
Ambient Lighting. If ambient lighting is more the direction you want to go, border lights around the ceiling or some of the sticky, rope light behind a cabinet will give you splashes of dimmer light that shine off the ceiling.
Backlighting or Spotlighting a particular focal point in your garage décor can also be a striking addition. Or adding a small spotlight your shrine of the Chevy bowtie. Lighting can really focus the eye and make certain things in your garage stand out.
Neon Signage, Themed fixtures. As already mentioned in the themes above, neon signs can come in nearly any shape and color. You can also find a huge variety of vintage fixtures that advertise brands (like the lit Coca-cola, or Budweiser emblems). If you’re going for a diner or barbershop feel, hours of operation signs could be a fun addition as well.
Color and Garage Decor
Incorporating splashes of color into your overall garage décor may be a simple idea. But grabbing a can of paint to cover the white walls or hide the brick can make a dramatic difference in just an afternoon. Wall color can also be paired it with other elements of your garage décor that accent and complement your theme or your collectibles.
An accent wall or large stripe can add the color without distracting too much from the things you want to display. Start with your wall art, memorabilia items, or chosen theme and go from there. Paint color matching is typically easy for stores if you bring in something for them to take from.
For those of you familiar with color theory, it is also a common belief that choosing the right color to put on the walls that can help with things like inspiring creativity (purple), increasing energy (red), or providing a calming atmosphere to your space (green).
Decals as Garage Decor
This is another one of those areas that could be endless. Any time I think about decals and wall art for my garage, it makes me think of walking in the Barrett-Jackson auction and looking at the vendors. Decals are normally an inexpensive way to cover a larger surface, use it to your advantage.
Memorabilia as Garage Decor
My dad has always been into old cars. Nearly every weekend over the summer months, we were at a car show or a cruise looking at the different hot rods. Now, this could have always been a passion of my dad, but when I got a little older, I remember him going through a memorabilia phase. Old gas pumps and signs became a thing he would buy and flip. It got to the point where we went to auctions almost as often as the weekend cruise.
If you, like my dad, are big into memorabilia or want that vintage look, this might be what you are looking for to finish the look of your garage. You need to determine if authentic is worth the time, money and effort. If it isn’t but you still want the look of memorabilia as a part of your garage décor, check out some of these options we found.
Flooring (You read it right!) as Garage Decor
The floor is one of the largest surfaces in your garage. The garage floor is also the easiest and fastest way someone can assess if your space is clean or dirty. So, if you are going to take the time to look at other garage décor options, make sure to include the floor as a part of the overall master plan. Two ways to spruce up your floors are by using a garage floor epoxy, or garage floor tiles.
Garage Floor Epoxy
Adding epoxy to your floor can be a striking piece of your overall garage décor. An epoxied floor not only helps create a protective barrier for easier cleanup, but it also helps complete the look and feel of your garage. Epoxy paint can be a couple of day project for the DIYer with the application and dry time.
Epoxy paint has several different color options to choose from. Once the base color is selected, there are then paint chips that can be added to the epoxy to give additional color options and textures. These versatile mixes and match kits can create a variety of custom looks that can complement any style of decor you choose.
If you are considering epoxy floor paint as a part of your overall garage décor, check out our articles on the topic; “Best Epoxy for Garage Floors” and “How to Prep, Seal, and Epoxy Your Garage Floor.”
Garage Floor Tile
Garage floor tile is another option that can create a dramatic change in the look of your garage. The tiles are installed onto the garage floor and usually interlock in one way or another. There are several color and style options for tiles to compliment the look you are going for with your overall garage décor.
Design for garage floor tile includes diamond tread, faux wood, slatted planks, vented grid, and several others depending on how hard you look. Once you have picked the tile you are going to use for your garage décor, there are color options to explore, and then the fun of configuring the layout. With a little creativity, all kinds of designs are possible beyond just the standard checkerboard.
You can also do things like creating a tile border that goes around the entire garage, or sections off where the cars are parked. By utilizing the different styles and colors around your workbench or storage cabinets, you can make that floor look designated for the given area.
Final Thoughts and Multi-use options
If you are more of a hobbyist, you will probably want to design your garage and your garage décor to be more universal and multi-use. This might not be the same for the person who makes a living from the work they perform in their garage. Normally, in that case, you will want to have your tools, storage, and overall work area at their most optimum locations to help generate the most productivity and efficiency possible. But we are going to focus more on the hobbyist in this section.
My neighbor’s wife is a painter, and her art studio is outside in the garage. At least once a week, when I am pulling up to my house, I see the garage door open and her with her easel painting away. I always think it is fun to see someone working on their craft. My neighbor and his wife are also project warriors and like to DIY projects in their garage. They have designated their space for different functional things, like storage and parking their cars, but also painting and projecting.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the garage is a versatile room each one of us typically uses for more than one thing. Your decor should inspire, not hinder your work and hobbies. While not everyone may want to go all out on a pristine themed garage, the accent wall, shadow box, or floor tile may be just what your space needs to increase productivity, make your space more usable, and make it even more so your favorite room in the house.