Alternative uses for a garage
September 22, 2011 4:42 PM   Subscribe

What can one do with a garage other than use it for its intended purpose of storing cars?

I am house shopping in Toronto and passing up a lot of great houses because they have garages occupying their backyards. I don't need a garage to store my 4 bicycles. What can I use one for? Some suggestions I have received already:
- tear it down and plant a garden (I'd love to have a garden but this seems like a waste)
- chicken coup (assuming it becomes legal to raise chickens in the city)
- use it as a kind of "indoor deck" and use planters on the deck for gardening

Zany ideas are welcome!
posted by vegetable100% to Home & Garden (34 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I use my garage as a wood/metal shop.

Many of my neighbors hang out in theirs, sort of watch movies/tv, drink beer, etc.
posted by RustyBrooks at 4:44 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, have you considered you may need more bicycles??
posted by RustyBrooks at 4:44 PM on September 22, 2011 [9 favorites]

The usual use is your mad scientist laboratorium - the place which has the tools and workspace in which to build your own custom-made chicken coop , the first chicken coop in the world to be complete with racing stripes (or whatever takes your fancy).
posted by -harlequin- at 4:45 PM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hobby area? Use it for starting seeds & plants?
posted by easily confused at 4:46 PM on September 22, 2011

A giant shed for lawn care tools/mowers/etc.

Gym area (if it's attached to the house and has some source of heat).

Extra storage for stuff you don't want in your house.
posted by xingcat at 4:48 PM on September 22, 2011

If I had a garage, I would use it as a motorcycle/metal/woodshop.
posted by mollymayhem at 4:53 PM on September 22, 2011

There's apparently an unserved market in Toronto of condo-dwellers who need someplace to store their canoes. Traditional storage places don't really work, because in order to get a space long enough for your canoe, you have to also rent one that's ridiculously wide and thus, expensive.

So perhaps there are money-making opportunities for your garage?
posted by jacquilynne at 4:56 PM on September 22, 2011

We just moved into a house with a garage, which we wanted for hobby/woodshop purposes. I am going to build a book-scanner, my husband is going to build speakers from scratch, I'm going to put together some gardening projects in there, make soap, etc.
posted by Nattie at 4:57 PM on September 22, 2011

You could practise juggling in there. No risk of breaking ornaments or windows; no risk of being seen before you're ready to wow the world with your l33t juggling skillz. Also a great practice arena for yoyo tricks, gymnastics, dance steps, ...

You could set up exercise equipment and turn it into a private gym. Possibly not a gym you'd want to use in the winter, mind. (Do Toronto garages come with heating?)

You could rent it out to friends as storage space.

You could use it as an art studio.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:57 PM on September 22, 2011

You could turn it into a guest house or a studio apartment and get some rental income.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:59 PM on September 22, 2011

Mine contains bicycles, washer/dryer, laundry racks, empty boxes, and paper products we buy in bulk.
posted by asphericalcow at 5:16 PM on September 22, 2011

If I had a non-decrepit garage I would use it for a combination workshop / bike storage / home gym / hockey shooting practice area.
posted by ghharr at 5:22 PM on September 22, 2011

Is it possible to narrow the scope of your question at all?

What kinds of things do you like to do?

What kind of condition is the garage in (e.g. is it insulated, what's the floor made out of, does it have running water, etc.)?

How much money and time and effort do you wish to spend on this thing?
posted by box at 5:23 PM on September 22, 2011

Grow very high-quality hydroponic marijuana.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:27 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Or band practice.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:27 PM on September 22, 2011

Here are some uses in order of the work required to make it happen:

Storage Space
Chicken Coop
Office/Reading Room/Sanctuary
Guest Room

How much of the backyard are these garages taking?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:29 PM on September 22, 2011

You could make it into a ball pit. Here, xkcd will help you.

You could put on plays: build a "back wall" about halfway back in the garage, use the area behind for "backstage". Put up chairs/benches/etc in the driveway. Raise the garage door, and voila: play's on.

If I had a garage (and didn't need the space for my car), I'd use it for an art studio. OR...I'd rent out the space to friends who needed to store their kayaks/canoes/other summer toys during the winter.
posted by Elly Vortex at 5:30 PM on September 22, 2011

Man cave. Ping pong table, pool table, couch, tv, refrig, etc.

2nding the hockey shooting area. I put a mattress against the wall in mine growing up and took slap shots with street hockey pucks all afternoon. Then my younger brother got old enough to get in goal.


Weight room/workout room. Weights, treadmill, heavy bag, chin up bar, mirrors on one wall, etc.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:31 PM on September 22, 2011

What are your zoning restrictions? You might not be able to rent it as a dwelling space or convert it very much.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:36 PM on September 22, 2011

Omigosh, an indoor climbing wall immediately jumps to mind for me :)
posted by SarahbytheSea at 5:46 PM on September 22, 2011

Best answer: There is some serious failures of imagination going on in this thread.

What would you do if your house had an extra room, and you could bolt anything to the walls or ceiling you wanted, and it never ever mattered how dirty it got?
posted by mhoye at 6:06 PM on September 22, 2011

Best answer: Let your friends use it for art studios or band practice, whatever you think would be a cool thing to have happening behind your house. Depending on what sort of friends you have, this also works for the sex palace.

Toronto? Cover the floor in beach grade sand, put some tropical looking fabrics up on the walls, and get some heat lamps. Throw a party midwinter. For extra awesomeness, add in hammocks and a hot tub.

I really need to do something more interesting with my garage.
posted by yohko at 6:20 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

What would you do if your house had an extra room, and you could bolt anything to the walls or ceiling you wanted, and it never ever mattered how dirty it got?

Sex Palace?
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:54 PM on September 22, 2011

Response by poster: Answering some questions that have popped up:
-> unfortunately most of my interests are better suited for the house than the garage (classical music, video games, board games, cats, fine alcohol)
-> I haven't bought a house yet, so this is purely theoretical at the moment, but the garages I have been seeing are solid expensive constructions with electricity
-> I have very little inclination towards exercise or extra storage space
posted by vegetable100% at 6:57 PM on September 22, 2011

Learn to make your own fine alcohol. Everyone needs a backyard still.
posted by amanda at 7:45 PM on September 22, 2011

I'm assuming you don't have a house now.

Because when you get a house, you will accumulate bits of house-related stuff. Extra wood. A door or two. The shop-vac and the miter saw. That old sink that's going to go in the second bathroom when you put it in but you're not quite ready yet.

Now you could put those in your basement, but hey, a basement is a nice heated room, so how about a finished basement? But where are you going to put the miter saw and the old doors?

In the garage!

(Also later on when you go to sell your house you get more money and sell it faster because it's got parking.)

I bought a house with no garage (and no parking) so my doors are in my unfinished, not-full-depth basement.
posted by mendel at 8:24 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Soundproof and build a recording studio.

Put in a chaise longue and a million bookshelves for a great library.

Take up your own Mythbusters-style science experimentation.

Start a very serious collection and keep it in there: Dolls, garden gnomes, vintage porn, whatevs.

Install a ridiculously large aquarium and/or terrarium.

Take up painting murals.

Make a photography darkroom. Like, you know, old-style with the film and the chemicals.

Put in a full wet bar with stools, a pool table, a dart board, and a refrigerator. Put on an Irish accent when you have friends over.

Roll your own sensory deprivation chamber.

Build a car for Burning Man.

Build a sauna or heat lodge and take up meditation.

But yeah, once you have a house, you're going to need it for house-related crap. I have a garage and use it for bikes, gardening equipment, and an appalling old-tech graveyard. I think I have a Zip drive out there waiting to be recycled, yo.
posted by Andrhia at 8:52 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is easy: build a gigantic model railroad set.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:33 PM on September 22, 2011

A friend has lounge-ified her garage. Comfy seating, recycled tables, board games, wall art created from a revolving collection of albums with B/W portraits of the singers. The best part is the old timey record player and the literal red wagonful of albums 1950-60 to 1990s. Guests get to take turns picking the next album. Totally fun.
posted by mcbeth at 10:49 PM on September 22, 2011

Bicycle repair.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 12:47 AM on September 23, 2011

-> I haven't bought a house yet

trust me... when you do buy a house, this will change the day you move in:

-> I have very little inclination towards ... extra storage space

half of mine is used as a woodworking shop, and the other half contains my motorbike, gardening stuff, barbecue, garden furniture, firepit, bicycles etc. all pretty mundane really, but essential.
posted by alan2001 at 2:18 AM on September 23, 2011

I brew beer in mine. I am lucky enough to have a small room inside for the wet black & white darkroom or I'd be doing that in there too.

Also a good place for that rack of servers you really need ;)
posted by hardcode at 3:32 AM on September 23, 2011

I was way to sedate earlier. I apologize.

Clearly you need to have the neighborhood Speakeasy. Turn the front part into some kind of boring normal garage stuff and the back into a hidden club. Secret passages are a must. You could get really detailed. Oh the parties you would have...
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:55 AM on September 23, 2011

+1 to fine alcohol. Brew beer and wine. Be careful it's an all consuming habit.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:59 AM on September 23, 2011

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