Garage conversions: the ultimate guide to budgeting, planning and designing a garage conversion

Garage conversions are a great solution for anyone who wants more space but doesn't want to add-on. Find out how to successfully convert a garage into extra living space

Garage conversions: by OB Architecture
(Image credit: Martin Gardner)

Designing a garage conversion is largely about deciding how you will be using your garage conversion now and in the future. Making it look like a natural part of your home, and less like a converted garage, is vital, too, for future resale success.

Before work starts, commission scaled drawings of the finished project, indoors and out, and include details such as power sockets and furniture layout. Consider these points below.

How will you use your garage conversion?

When converting a garage into a room, considering how you will use the space will depend not only on your needs but also on how it relates to the rest of the house. So, if your garage is joined to your living room, a home office or playroom is sensible, and a utility room less so. 

Future-proofing the room is a must, too. You may be happy to use it as a TV den or playroom now, but could it be a useful spare room for elderly relatives later – in which case, that could affect the positioning of electrics, for example.

Here’s how you could use the room, with a few pros and cons.

Converting a garage to a kitchen 

Converting your garage into a kitchen is a big job, but one that could lead to the open-plan living space of your dreams. 

If you do this, be prepared to plan very carefully to get the design details right. It’s vital that the new room doesn’t have the feel of a boxy converted garage. 

Need inspiration? Check out this former garage converted into a gorgeous kitchen.

White kitchen with wooden topped island and hanging plants

Converting a garage to a living room

If your family is growing (or growing up), you’ll begin to need extra living space to cater to everyone’s tastes and needs. A converted garage that your kids can use – whether for gaming, relaxing or entertaining their friends – will be invaluable. Outfit it with plenty of slouchy seating (sofa beds will be particularly useful) and a TV to create a versatile space that they’ll gravitate towards. The downside? The older children become, the noisier they get, so ensure that the sound-proofing is up to the job.

Read our guide to designing a living room to get the best from your new space.

Converting a garage to a utility room

When a garage adjoins a kitchen or hallway, it will be very useful as a utility room. Use it for everything from laundry to extra storage and, if possible, squeeze in an extra coat closet, too. Depending on your needs, you might even be able to devote half of a large garage to utility and leave the other half for a car. Or, you could split the room to create half utility, half playroom, for example. 

Read our guide to creating a utility room to get the best result.

Converting a garage to a bedroom

With a small garage off a living space or hallway, converting it into a spare bedroom for guests will be a good idea, but the room will be much more practical if you swap a conventional bed for a Murphy bed or sofa bed and fit in a desk or exercise space to double the functionality. The downside to a downstairs guest bedroom might be lack of access to a bathroom. So, if there is enough room, consider squeezing one of those in, too.

Read our guide to designing a bedroom to make the most of your new space.

a garage converted into a bedroom with Ikea furniture

If your garage is in a garden and does not face the road, you can easily convert it into a bedroom for guests or a teen. This eclectic room, furnished with items from Ikea has been fitted with Belgian-style doors, flooding it with natural light

(Image credit: Ikea)

Converting a garage to a home office

A home office is best situated away from the main living space if you have a family who will want the TV on while you try to work. If, however, it doubles up as a homework space, having it near to where you’ll be most of the time can be very useful. It will need plenty of natural daylight to make it welcoming during the day, but invest in good blinds if it is south-facing, and ensure the heating is sufficient.

Read our guide to planning a home office to create the best room for home-working.

home office with furniture from The Dormy House

A converted garage can create the perfect space for a home office, as this office furnished with items from The Dormy House shows

(Image credit: The Dormy House)

Converting a garage to a playroom

For a garage off a kitchen or living space, this is the perfect use for families with young children. Include a TV, too, to help keep your living room as more of an adult space. Good daylight, ventilation and lots of practical storage will all be must-haves. Keep in mind that children grow up very quickly, so when you’re converting for this purpose, think five or 10 years ahead to how you might use the room then, too. For example, a teenage den will keep your living room just for you.

Check out these playroom design ideas for inspiration. 

Converting a garage to a home theater

Perfect for partially converted garages, these rooms can be created without adding lots of windows, (although you'll want to add a couple for fire codes and the needs of the space in the future) and sound-proofing must be good. 

Read our guide to designing a home cinema to get yours right.

Converting a garage to a home gym

Ideal for a room that leads off a hallway or kitchen, a home gym will need to be outfitted with air conditioning or a window that can be opened to keep it fresh. Add a flatscreen TV and mirrors to make it feel like a real gym, and devote the back of the room to a shower space.

Find out how to plan a home gym in our guide.

home gym in a garden room

(Image credit: motive8)

Getting the garage conversion design details right

Paying careful attention to design details at an early stage of planning will ensure your garage conversion blends with the existing house both inside and out, so that anyone visiting for the first time will assume it's always been the room you're converting it too. 

Use these pointers below to get the detailing just right, and check out our garage conversion design ideas for more inspiration.

Blending exterior design details

Ensure the brickwork, materials and windows replacing the garage door match well with the existing house so the garage isn't an obvious addition and the facade looks seamless.

lower level garage converted in to a kitchen diner and living space by Barc Architects

(Image credit: Barc Architects)

Ensure floor levels and flooring match

The garage floor will usually be lower than the floor level in the existing house, so try to avoid a step down into the room and raise the floor if the ceiling height allows.

Getting the interior door position in the best place

Design the position of the door to the new room in the right place. It’s best to consider what the ideal position would be, rather than going with the existing door if there is one. Work out how the door’s position will affect the furnishing of the new room — it’s no use positioning it in an ideal place in the hallway if it makes the new room awkward.

Adding windows for extra natural daylight

If you can add in extra windows to make the new space feel more like a room and less like a conversion, do so. If the garage faces into the backyard, replacing one wall with floor-to-ceiling windows or folding-sliding doors will make it feel wider and much more spacious, but consider how this will restrict the layout of the room. A door or window will cost upwards of $500 to $1,000; expect to pay more for bespoke and high quality finishes.

Use our guide to choosing the best windows for period homes.

Pay attention to decorative details

Match the decorating basics to the rest of the house, but particularly to the room adjoining the conversion. This means sourcing similar windows, doors and fittings, molding, flooring and light fixtures.

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