One thing many garage owners aspire to achieve with their garage is maximum space utilization. This enables many to acquire more stuff and cars and whatever can be crammed into their fortress. All this is best accomplished with the proper layout and installation of custom cabinets and shelves. In many cases, it takes a professional to survey what is needed and how best to design the storage units and cabinets so they will most efficiently occupy the space available—and hide a lot of the less than aesthetic components.
What many garage owners do like is to display personal acquisitions and examples of petroliana, original gasoline memorabilia, which has, in its increasing rarity, become quite precious. Signs, used license plates, vintage neon, old dealer displays, restored cigarette machines, original Coca-Cola coolers, racing banners and pennants, etc.—all of these items help to accent a garage and add a certain festive dynamic to the environment. Artwork, posters and race flyers also provide a sense of excitement and authenticity.
From a practical as well as visual standpoint, flooring, be it epoxy or polyurethane coatings, ceramic or plastic interlocking tile, carpet, polish or even paint, can make a big difference in establishing a signature garage. Certain factors have to be taken into consideration, such as moisture and durability, not to mention cost. However, according to Richard Newton, author of Ultimate Garage Handbook, "the floor is the very first thing a person sees when they enter your sanctuary." Newton, however, does frown on the use of paint in any case.
Other functional accessories include toolboxes, workbenches, lighting and lifts, the latter of course depending on ceiling height. In addition, for those considering a new build, installing a proper electrical box, which includes 220 amps and GFCI outlets, along with plumbed air lines, is the most practical in order to accommodate all one's power needs.
Budgets determine the addition of air conditioning, and, depending on the part of the country in which you reside, heating. In cooler climes, garage owners may install an underground heating system that becomes an efficient energy source. In some cases, those wintry conditions also may encourage owners to install drains inside their garages so they can at the very least bathe their vehicles in the comfort of their enclosure. In warmer areas, a ceiling fan can help keep the heat down.
Digging further into the wallet, there are some enthusiasts who paint murals on their walls or even go so far as to create authentic dioramas that add a certain credibility surrounding their vehicles. A diner or kitchenette display, functional or simulated, also may become a highlight of the setting. And finally, don't forget fire protection. A plumbed system is best, but in lieu of that make sure several fire extinguishers are readily available.
The Outside Counts, Too
It all begins with garage doors. Wood looks best, but is always a challenge to maintain. Today, garage doors come in all shapes and sizes and material content, although steel remains a classic while aluminum and glass provide a contemporary appeal. Roll-up doors are the most common, but many people are looking at sliding doors as being more space efficient (particularly if using lifts) as well as attractive.
Naturally, the overall structure should blend in with the rest of the home, or property. One's garage should be a proper extension, even if it is a stand-alone. The local city fathers (and mothers) will be more likely to approve the construction permit if due diligence is taken to adhere to the aesthetic and design of the existing domicile.
Appropriate paint colors and landscaping also add a great deal to the look. Keep the exterior of the garage consistent with the home—no NASCAR signage on the exterior or checkered flags; respect the surroundings and neighbors, and they'll accept your late night restoration binges.
All these ideas and plans can work if one is committed to taking the time and making the investment to put them into place. Once done, this personal temple to transportation can bring lasting rewards and even a little civic pride. Remember, while building, designing and equipping a garage remains a personal choice, it's always important to consider the impact the garage and its occupants have on the community.