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Great Garages Add Functional Living Space

by Gail McCauley

Traditionally one of the most overlooked of family spaces, contemporary garages provide a wealth of multi-functional opportunities for the family.

The days of the garage used merely to house vehicles, seasonal decorations, work benches and tools have made way for fashion forward designs that attractively maximize storage, as well as allow for usable hobby and play areas enjoyed by both adults and children alike! The process of creating an effective garage design begins with a thoughtful plan. Paint and color provide simple tools that assist homeowners with achieving the unique goals for their customized garage.

No longer a neglected or unattractive area, today's garages accommodate the distinctive desires of each individual homeowner. "Bump out" areas on the side of a garage may be designed to incorporate storage and work areas, and are increasingly popular options found in newly designed and remodeled homes. As most people employ their garages for various types of storage, shelving and cabinets represent different alternatives used for maximizing space. Plywood, slat board or specially designed organizing systems are effective options that can be handsomely painted, then used to hang tools and store equipment.

Cabinetry can be customized with an attractive paint color scheme and utilized to delineate specific items. Working with a designated color scheme, upper cabinets may be painted using one color and lower cabinets painted with another color that is also present within the palette. Introduce a third color from the desired scheme into the mix by using it to highlight cabinet drawer fronts. A fourth color can be implemented by applying color to cabinet pulls, or painting the interior back wall of the cabinet (which is highly visible when the cabinet is opened). Painting the inside of cabinet drawers using different hues within the color scheme provides assistance with the organization of smaller, hard to find items. Painting each shelf back a rainbow of interesting colors produces a whimsical backdrop for a garage with completely white wall coverings. Even the most inexpensive and insignificant wall hooks can be easily painted enticing colors, then used to efficiently store garden tools or sporting equipment!

Not limited to strictly new home design, it is not surprising to find a growing number of home additions expanding their existing garage space by one or more garage bays. According to experts in the home building industry, it is not uncommon for one out of every six new homes to have a garage space for three or more cars! Painting the interior walls of every garage bay grouping using one unique color offers an ideal method of distinguishing one garage bay from the next. Taking the home's exterior paint colors into consideration, explore the possibility of selecting hues that reflect the same intensity of color to provide a harmonious palette that graciously integrates the exterior with the interior of the home, particularly when all of the garage doors are open and visible to the outdoors.

For more of an understated appearance, select a monochromatic garage color scheme. Choose one specific hue that is neutral in color and paint the walls of each garage bay using a distinctively different intensity of the identical neutral shade. As good lighting is crucial to garages of all sizes, (particularly in garages that accommodate hobby spaces) consider implementing a cheerful palette of uplifting primary colors. Implementing colors such as sunflower yellow highlighted with crisp ocean blue within a child's hobby space reflects an ideal color partnership for a garage of any size that lacks natural lighting. Adding a touch of mustards and warm golden tones to the inside of window frames adds a subtle touch of sunshine to even the dreariest of garage spaces.

Treat the garage to the same thoughtful consideration and creative imagination that you would expend within the home's interior! Lackluster light fixtures can be painted to reflect contemporary metal and stone finishes that are especially popular in today's lighting markets. Light fixtures constructed from a wide variety of materials can be primed and painted to reflect the "hottest" surfaces, ranging from progressive stainless steel looks to weathered copper finishes. Hand-painted freeform border designs can be applied around the perimeter of a garage by even a novice painter. A hand-painted mural becomes an instant focal point wall and can be used to highlight a treasured vintage vehicle within the garage space. Stylish ceiling fans are available in fashionable colors and several styles of decor in order to provide additional light and efficient air circulation. A stylish decorative accessory and particularly useful when used as a work or hobby space, ceiling fan blades and hardware can be selected to coordinate with both ceiling and wall covering paint colors in order to help unify the entire garage area.

Home design and remodeling experts do not anticipate the size or appeal of the garage to diminish any time in the foreseeable future! Instead, experts continue to focus on devising innovative design ideas in order to enhance new and existing garage space. In analyzing how to maximize both new and remodeled garage designs, color and paint provide powerfully aesthetic and practical effects within the overall space.

Gail McCauley for the
Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute

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