father and son working in garage

10 Garage Conversion Ideas To Expand Your Living Space

Katie Ziraldo9-Minute Read
September 16, 2022

Garages provide a solution to several homeowner headaches: from giving you a place to park without having to brave the elements to offering ample storage that might be lacking inside your home.

But if your biggest homeowner headache is a lack of living space, your garage might be able to help with that as well. In this article, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about garage conversions.

Why Consider Garage Conversions?

The COVID-19 pandemic redefined “home” for people around the world. When quarantine orders meant spending more time at home than ever before, many searched for new ways to repurpose their living spaces for work, school, fitness and more.

But the long-term impact of the pandemic has also meant a housing market that is marked by high demand and low supply – leading to many homeowners choosing to renovate their existing space rather than looking to purchase a new home.

What Kind Of Space Can I Create In My Garage?

When it comes to making the most of your garage conversion, there’s no right or wrong way to transform the space. Every household has different goals and budgets, so the most important thing is choosing a conversion project that suits your family’s lifestyle.

Think about the frequent frustrations you experience at home to pinpoint your most urgent needs. Are you constantly wishing you had a private space to work remotely? Do you need a larger space to accommodate all your children’s playthings? Have you always dreamed of having a space dedicated to creating art? Let your imagination run wild but choose the project that is going to have the biggest positive impact on your day-to-day life.

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

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10 Garage Conversion Ideas

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

Small green and orange guest house in back yard.

If you’re looking in an income-generating conversion or have family members in need of a place to live, renovating your garage into a new living space, or an ADU, may be appealing. An ADU is an independent living space separated from the main home, sometimes referred to as a guest house, a granny flat or an in-law suite.

But to be considered an ADU, the building must be complete with a fully functional kitchen, bathroom and living area. If you have aging parents who need to be closer for health reasons or an adult child who can’t find another place to live, this project could be a good solution.

Living Room

Contemporary living room with various mirrors on wall and velvet couch and side chair.

For homeowners who love to host large gatherings and get-togethers, a designated space for entertaining might come in handy – especially if your house feels small or cluttered with all your belongings.

Home Office

Home office with wood paneled wall, dark grey accent wall and grey velvet tufted office chair.

With many classes, jobs and appointments now existing in an online format, it’s important to have a quiet space in your home to focus – but squeezing a desk into your busy living room might not be the most effective way to be productive.

Converting your garage into an office space can be a great way to get the extra breathing room you need while also providing a get-things-done ambience perfect for taking phone calls or responding to emails.

Home Cinema

Projector screen with large comfortable overstuffed chairs in simple home screening room.

Have you ever dreamed of experiencing the magic of the movies in the comfort of your own home – or at least adjacent to it? If so, consider converting your empty garage into a home cinema. This will likely be an easier remodel than some of the others on this list, as there’s no need for windows in the space.

And you don’t have to go all out to create a fun, comfortable space that all film fanatics will love. A projector, a few couches or recliners and some snacks are all you need to stream your first flic!

Family Playroom

Playroom featuring black and white geometric rug and teepee.

While some homeowners dream of an adult oasis, others might prefer to repurpose their garage space with a project that can excite the entire family. And there are definitely opportunities worth pursuing in that vein, from playrooms for little ones to game rooms for teens.

Home Gym

High end concept of a home gym with tastefully hung bar bell weights on wall.

Sick of driving to and from the gym multiple times a week? A home gym setup can be a game changer for newbies and fitness aficionados alike.

Home gym equipment has become increasingly popular in recent years, though a yoga mat and a few dumbbells can go a long way on their own. To take your home gym conversion to the next level, consider incorporating a mirror to check your form or a TV to stream the latest workout videos.

Expanded Kitchen

Rustic style kitchen with wooden beams, plenty of windows to create an airy space.

Separate buildings as kitchens are not a new concept. In fact, summer kitchens – as they were once known – were popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when homes lacked air conditioning and kitchen fires were a major concern.

But if your modern kitchen feels limiting and you don’t want to renovate the main structure of your home, this is your sign to turn your garage into your dream kitchen.

Art Studio

Artist in multi media art studio at drafting table working on a project.

If you consider yourself an artist – particularly one who understands the struggle of finding storage for supplies or a dedicated space for your pieces to dry – then consider transforming your garage into the art studio of your dreams.

With plenty of storage space for canvas, easels and other equipment (as well as access to fresh air to flush out any lingering paint fumes), a converted garage could be the perfect creative space for any art project!

Music Room Or Recording Studio

Home recording studio and band practice space with orange rug.

You’ve heard of garage rock, but in this case, we’re taking it literally. If your passion is music, take advantage of the unique space a garage conversion could offer.

With some DIY know-how and a bit of elbow grease, you can easily soundproof your space for future jam sessions or even look into creating an in-home studio, depending on both your budget and your musical aspirations. But regardless of how ambitious you want to be, you can always brag about being in a “garage band” down the road.

She Shed or Man Cave

Interior of a "She Shed" with white leather small couch in center of entertaining oriented shelves.

Last but certainly not least, if you’re in need of some good, old-fashioned alone time, converting your garage into a man cave or she shed could provide you with just that. There are many directions you can explore with this, but this space is all about you, so design it with your hobbies and interests front of mind.

Need Extra Cash?

Leverage your home equity with a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

The Pros Of Converting Your Garage

We’ve discussed a few of the reasons you may want to consider converting your garage, but let’s review just what these remodels have to offer:

  • A repurposed garage can help you carve out quiet space to work, study and find peace
  • Your garage could provide a home to a loved one in need
  • Generally, a garage conversion will cost less than adding onto your home’s structure
  • If you need to supplement your income, you can benefit greatly from an income-generating conversion by turning your garage into a short-term rental property – especially if you DIY some of the necessary labor.

The Cons Of Converting Your Garage

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so for every set of pros, there are cons. Let’s get into them:

  • You’ll lose access to parking, so especially if you live in a city where it can be hard to find free parking or an area where snowfall and frost are guaranteed, this is an important consideration to make.
  • If you’re uncertain how long you’ll stay in your home and want to sell down the line, a converted garage could hurt you – especially if you live in an area where potential buyers would prefer a traditional garage over additional living space.
  • Your costs of homeownership, including homeowners insurance and property taxes, may increase with the conversion of your garage.

What Factors Should I Consider When Budgeting For A Garage Conversion?

While it can be fun to imagine life with a new living space, there are quite a few things to consider before you undertake a garage conversion project.

And though this type of project will typically be cheaper than renovating the primary structure of your house, we recommend doing your research and getting an estimate to build your budget before moving past the brainstorming phase.

Legal And Permitting Issues

Using your garage for housing or income purposes might be prohibited in certain areas, so make sure to check with your local municipalities to understand the rules impacting your residence. You should also be aware of your area’s zoning regulations, which can differ from local ordinances. Zoning policies sometimes present additional hurdles for converting your garage, so it’s important to be educated and prepared.

You should also be prepared to face a lengthy permitting process, even if your planned conversion isn’t prohibited. And if a zoning variance is required, the process could take even longer and might even require legal representation. Having a home in a historical district or belonging to an HOA can also potentially disrupt your plans.

Single Car Garage Vs. Two Car Garage Conversions

Depending on your specific renovation plans, a single car garage might need expanding to create a complete living space, especially if you live in an area that mandates the minimum size of living spaces. Having to expand the garage would add considerably to the overall cost of the project, so this is an important consideration to make when you’re choosing an intended purpose for the space.

Integral Vs. Attached Vs. Detached Garages

Integral garages resemble a small room and are housed inside your home’s building. Because these spaces are already embedded in the home, they’ll be the easiest and cheapest to convert. Attached garages – which only share the roof and outer walls of your home – will run you a bit more. Detached garages will be the most expensive of the three.

Hiring A Contractor Vs. DIY

You can pretty much always save money on home projects by DIYing it. But whether or not this is a good idea will depend on both on your skills and the complexity of your renovation plans. If doing it yourself means risking dangerous and costly mistakes, you might save more money in the long run by hiring a professional contractor to do the job.

Insurance

Because a garage conversion increases your living space, it will also increase your insurance needs – especially if you plan on housing people or expensive equipment and appliances in the repurposed space. Unless you’ve arranged for additional coverage, any damage that could come to these pricey features in your converted garage are unlikely to be covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

How Can I Pay For My Garage Conversion?

Depending on your circumstances, there could be numerous financing options to explore for your garage conversion project. Homeowners with a decent amount of home equity can access that equity for home improvements by refinancing their home with a cash-out refinance. If your home equity is limited, a home improvement loan is another solid option.

The Bottom Line: Your Garage Can Serve A Multitude Of Purposes, And Your House Can Pay For It

Although there are many fun opportunities with the space garages offer, there are also many factors to take into consideration before you go ahead with a garage conversion.

Make sure you understand just what you’ll be sacrificing by converting your garage – no more parking and much less storage space. But so long as you plan and consider carefully, research your area, understand the finances and work involved, and make plans to follow through with your financing and insurance, a garage conversion could expand your home and give you the dreamy hang-out spot you’ve been yearning for.

Part of planning well means making savvy financing choices. A cash-out refinance is one of the most popular ways to fund home upgrades among homeowners who have had time to build up equity in their homes. With a cash-out refinance, you will typically be paying a much lower interest rate than you would with any unsecured loan, such as a personal loan.

Our bottom line? If you’re ready to get serious about a garage conversion, you might just want to get a cash-out-refinance today.

Fund your renovations with a cash-out refinance.

Get approved online now!

NMLS #3030

Katie Ziraldo

Katie Ziraldo is a financial writer and data journalist focused on creating accurate, accessible and educational content for future generations of home buyers. Her portfolio of work also includes The Detroit Free Press and The Huffington Post.