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Garage Renovation: 3 Stages

I recently lived through the last serious renovation to my house. (Serious to me means using my Sicilians, the contractors I have been calling on and off since buying my little house in 2002.) Kitchen and bathroom — done! Living and dining room — finished! Basement — check! I thought I was finished with renovating forever (although, are you ever really done?) until some saggy beaming and an even saggier roof on my detached garage meant I would need to have one last reno in me. Considering the cost of parking in downtown Toronto, and the inconvenience of street parking, saving my garage was now a priority. (You can see the full before and after in our June 2015 issue, on stands now, plus watch a tour on Online TV.)

I was a little out of practice, but then I realized — like all my renos before — there was a process and I just had to get back at it. The first step is the easy part, a little like love at first sight. You see something you like the looks of and you’re a goner. I had a lovely inspiration shot (above) of a kitchen that I kept looking back at (and couldn’t replicate in my house), so my garage was the next best place to use it as inspiration. I love that it’s painted white, has lots of character, Shaker cabinetry, crisp painted floors and an old banged-up work table. If my garage could end up looking anything like this, I’d be thrilled.

The second step is the hard one, less about inspiration and more about frustration. My dark and dismal garage had a long way to go. Not only would it need lots of construction work and several coats of white paint to become the bright, airy space I wanted, it also needed to be completely emptied of all its contents. My solution was a portable ShelterLogic garage (below) that I could set up in my backyard and fill with everything from the permanent garage. Just imagine a gigantic tent that fills your entire backyard. No backyard entertaining last summer. No grass this summer.

The last steps included planning and putting back together. I needed to keep my parking spot, natch. But also wanted the multi-est of multi-use spaces. Crafting, storage, recycling bins, tools, gardening supplies and ladders all had to look good enough that I could throw the doors open for laneway sales. (I have an online store called Found with fellow H&H editor Morgan Michener.) And if I wanted it to be attractive like my original inspiration shot, I needed to figure out some things not typically seen in garage systems (dare I use the dreaded term Man Cave, because that is what most garage systems look like). Thank goodness for Ikea. Here’s a peek at some of the tricks I used.

Hooks are perfect for hanging ladders out of the way, but also come in handy for hanging throw blankets at our laneway sales.

The sliding barn door in front of the recycling and garbage not only hides the unsightly bins, but creates a long deep shelf for more storage and a separate seating area, great for displaying our cushions for sale.

Open shelving above the cabinets means items are on display and easy to access. But lower cabinets store everything from a sewing machine and mitre saw to craft and packing supplies, hardware and garden tools. Every drawer is filled.

Lastly, a great old drafting table (a gift from H&H style editor Stacey Smithers) provides another work surface solely dedicated to gardening and potting (and keeps my bigger crafting table clean). Plus, it folds down to save space when not in use.

So now that the pain of the reno is over, not only do I feel more organized than ever, but I’m back to loving the look — pleased that I got as close to the inspiration shot as I did.

Pick up our June 2015 issue for more photos and tips from my garage reno, and tour the finished space on May 15 on Online TV.

Photo credits:
1. Sköna Hem magazine
2. Meg Crossley
3-8. House & Home June 2015 issue, photography by Valerie Wilcox