6 Creative Garage Makeovers to Inspire Your Own

By Vanessa Brunner, Houzz

Most of us could use a little extra space — for an office, for entertaining or just for relaxing — but few of us have the budget or room to add on to our existing homes. But there may be a blank slate nearby, just waiting to be reinvented: the garage.

These six Houzzer garage conversions have gone above and beyond the average remodel. No longer in need of a parking spot, or tired of looking at the mess that had piled up, these homeowners took advantage of their empty or dilapidated garages. The resulting dream rooms gave these families the extra space they were looking for.

Houzzer: Suzanne Dingley, Suzanne Dingley Interiors 
Location: Salt Lake City
Garage size: 180 square feet, detached
DIY or professional project?Both

A new work-from-home job meant that Suzanne Dingley’s husband needed a new office. Instead of cramming one into their house, the couple turned to their detached garage, which had become a dark and dirty dumping ground for junk. They gutted the space, exposed the rafters and pitched roof, and installed new flooring and built-in storage.

The red and white color palette evolved from this Ikea photo of a London bus — a tribute to the couple’s British roots.

The pair replaced the existing garage doors with two sets of French doors and two new windows to let in natural light. The newly insulated ceiling and floors control the internal temperature, but a window cooler and space heater help out, too. “My husband is very happy with his space, especially with his short commute across the yard,” says Dingley.

Houzzer: Rick Giudicessi
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Garage size: 240 square feet, attached
DIY or professional project? Professional

This 1930s garage wasn’t just worn out and beat up; its odd layout and tiny garage door made it impossible for Rick Giudicessi to park his car inside. Instead of using it for storage, he turned it into a tiki bar with an attached patio where his family can entertain year-round. “When the weather ends the use of the patio and tiki bar area, we move inside to the heated area,” he says.

Taking the garage down to the studs and designing an open ceiling turned the bland space into what the family now calls The Annex. Although Giudicessi designed much of the new space himself, all of the structural work required professional help.

New cabinetry, a bar top, a satellite TV and bar stool seating make The Annex the perfect sports bar, ideal for entertaining in rain or shine.

Houzzers: Michael and Kathy Brown
Location: Cincinnati
Garage size: 600 square feet, attached
DIY or professional project? Professional

Although Michael Brown used his attached garage, it became a quick solution for some extra space when his in-laws moved in. The home’s original kitchen was too small to host two extra people, so Brown had the garage transformed into a professional-grade kitchen, with a new garage attached to its side. The dramatic remodel required help from architects and contractors, but the result was well worth it. “We’ve never regretted doing this, not even for a second,” he says.

Houzzers: Megan and Rich Hirsch
Location: Bexley, Ohio
Garage size: 525 square feet, detached
DIY or professional project? Both

Megan Hirsch loves having outdoor parties, but her yard and main dining room were too small to contain the large groups she wanted to host. The garage, which opens into the home’s backyard, had plenty of room to spare. Reserving part of the street-facing portion of the garage for parking still left space for indoor-outdoor entertaining. A 14-foot viewing screen rolls down inside the rear of the garage so the family can host outdoor movie nights and Ohio State University football parties.

The new black standing-seam-metal roof contrasts with the fresh white siding, setting the garage apart from the brick main house. Since the garage is visible from the street, the Hirsches wanted something that would make an impact.

Fans, a disco ball, vintage fixtures and a large dinner table set the ambience for dinner parties inside. The Hirschesinstalled the hanging lantern on a pulley so they can raise and lower it over the dinner table, lighting nighttime feasts.

Houzzer: Nancy Rice
Location: West Wareham, Massachusetts
Garage size: 300 square feet, attached
DIY or professional project? Professional

Nancy Rice didn’t need a place to park her car, so she took advantage of the opportunity to turn her garage into her dream room: a private library.

With the help of a contractor, she designed a classic Victorian-style library, complete with floor-to-ceiling shelves and a bank of windows with a window seat for reading. “I’m a retired schoolteacher and a lifelong bookworm,” she says. “I’ve always dreamed of having my own library. I guess it was from watching classic movies and reading British literature.”

Houzzers: Michelle and Rich Walton
Location: Long Beach, California
Garage size: 400 square feet, detached
DIY or professional project? Professional

Three active kids, a pool and consistently warm California weather demanded an outdoor hangout space for this Long Beach family. Instead of building something new, Michelle Walton and her family worked with Royce Flom Construction to turn their garage into a combined pool house and storage space for their outdoor gear.

“I’m from Ohio and grew up with basements. My husband is from California and says, ‘The garage is the California basement. No one parks in their garage in California,'” Walton says.

New French doors create a pass-through from the pool to the house on the other side of the garage. Walton painted the floor with nonskid paint, so the kids wouldn’t slip and slide while coming in from the pool.

The white, casual, beachy vibe was a given for the family. “We love the beach, and we have a lot of surfboards,” Walton says.

Related Links:
Complete the Look With Outdoor Torch Lighting
Pump Up Your Home Bar for Entertaining and More
Need More Space? Utilize These Outdoor Storage Solutions

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Entrematic Team Members Exemplify “Caring Culture of Service”

At Entrematic, our company culture is extremely important to us.  A large part of that culture is what we call our “Caring Culture of Service.”  That means that everything we do is rooted in caring – caring for our customers, our partners, our fellow Team Members, and our communities.  Entrematic Team Members across North America have come together in the wake of the recent natural disasters.  We would like to take a moment to acknowledge some of our Team Members who exemplify our “Caring Culture of Service.”

Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston, Texas area in August 2017 and destroyed many homes and businesses in its wake.  While the Entrematic Houston Door Center facility was unharmed, a Team Member’s house was unfortunately heavily damaged and irreplaceable personal belongings were lost.  Many Team Members far and near wanted to assist in any way possible.  With the help of the Houston team, Entrematic’s Human Resources department set up a GoFundMe page for the Team Member.  The goal was surpassed in just hours!  Team Members from as far as Canada donated to the fund to help this Team Member and family get back on their feet.  Thank you to all the Team Members who helped out a fellow Entrematic family member!

Entrematic Houston Team Members

Team Members of the Entrematic Houston Door Center

Mexico City Earthquake
A warehouse Team Member at our Monterrey, Mexico Door Center had the wonderful idea of collecting donations at the Door Center to benefit the people living in the areas affected by the September 2017 earthquake in Mexico City.  “Everybody at the Monterrey DC gladly participated by providing either food, medical supplies or construction tools,” said Antonio Sepulveda, Director of Mexico Operations for Entrematic.  Team Members wrote messages of support on many of the items as well.  The donation drive was highly successful and Team Members delivered the items to a nearby donation facility.  We are so proud of the Team Members in Monterrey for bringing this selfless idea to fruition!

3Monterrey 4Monterrey

These are just a few examples of our Team Members doing great things for others, but we are amazed every day by our Entrematic family’s commitment to our Caring Culture of Service.  We are proud to have amazing Team Members!

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Entrematic Helps Revive Customs Garage in “Garage Rehab with Richard Rawlings” on Discovery


Three Amarr 3552 Aluminum Full View commercial doors were featured on an episode of Discovery’s new show, “Garage Rehab with Richard Rawlings.”  The new show, hosted by Richard Rawlings of “Gas Monkey Garage” and “Fast ‘n’ Loud,” premiered on August 30, 2017.  Entrematic was featured in the September 27 episode entitled “Offset Kustoms.”

Rawlings, accompanied by his team of experts (Russell J. Holmes, project manager, and Chris Stephens, garage designer), looks for struggling automotive shops across the country that could benefit from his industry expertise and knowledge.  For each shop, Rawlings takes the reins and steers the business from lagging to lucrative.

In “Offset Kustoms,” the targeted shop is a garage in New Caney, TX that outfits trucks and jeeps with custom lift setups.  Owners Ryan and MJ acknowledge that the shop has fallen on hard times and needs Rawlings’s help to get back to its former glory.


To do that, however, Rawlings must first remodel the shop.  A large part of that remodel included the three Amarr 3552 Aluminum Full View doors.  The doors have black anodize frames with 1/8” thick clear tempered glass.  Amarr 3552 doors are a great choice for automotive shops because the large glass panels allow workers high visibility to see in or out of the bays in the shop.  The black anodize frames were chosen to give a sleek, modern feel to the façade of the garage.  The tempered glass was selected to increase safety.  “If broken, tempered glass shatters into granular chunks, which are less likely to cause injury than shards of regular glass,” says Steve Roesner, Commercial Product Manager for Entrematic.


The curb appeal of the Amarr 3552 doors did not go unnoticed.  “One of my favorite things are the doors,” Rawlings says in the episode.  “Amarr garage doors killed it with these super large glass [and aluminum] doors for our shop area!”

To watch the episode “Offset Kustoms” and see how Rawlings was able to revitalize and improve the shop, visit Discovery.com to watch on-demand at any time.

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How to Protect Your Home from Hurricane Winds with Amarr Wind Load Hurricane Rated Garage Doors


Coastal homeowners are familiar with how damaging a hurricane can be to their homes.  The combination of wind and water can be destructive.  In the last two decades, building codes and requirements have been strengthened to ensure that homes and other buildings are ready to face hurricane winds.  What does this mean for homeowners, and how do homeowners protect their homes from these devastating hurricane winds?

A great place to start is with the garage door.

Why the garage door?
Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) experts say “the loss of a garage door during a hurricane can lead to an uncontrolled buildup of internal pressure resulting in the blowout of a house’s roof and supporting walls.”  A reinforced garage door that can handle higher wind load requirements reduces the risk of structural damage to a home.

What are wind load requirements?
When an area has a wind load requirement, building materials like garage doors must meet and be tested to uphold structural integrity up to a certain wind speed.  Wind load requirements vary by area, and homeowners should check their local building codes for their wind load requirement.

Dr. Steve Lyons, Hurricane Expert at The Weather Channel, says, “Wind pressure is often the most devastating culprit in a hurricane.  A Category 3 hurricane with winds of 130MPH exerts pressures equivalent to the weight of a typical family car on a two-car garage door.”  Having a reinforced garage door that meets wind load requirements reduces damage that your garage door and your house would take from hurricane winds.  Below is a video of Dr. Lyons conducting a wind tunnel test to show the effect of high wind speeds.

How are hurricane rated garage doors reinforced and tested?
Wind load approved doors use a variety of reinforcement materials, including Struts and R-Trusses which are engineered to meet specific building code requirements.  When installed according to our instructions and local building codes, Amarr hurricane rated garage doors withstand rapid cyclic pressure and static load forces for different wind speed ratings (with some models up to 245MPH that can also resist large missile impact at 50 feet per second).  Impact glass is also available for many wind load approved garage doors.  Impact glass may shatter in incredibly high speed winds, but remains intact despite the force, providing more safety for your home.


With Amarr garage doors, you don’t have to compromise curb appeal for hurricane preparedness.  Almost all Amarr residential garage doors are available with a wind load reinforcement system.  Check your local building codes to see what Amarr garage door models meet or exceed your area’s requirements.  Take the next step in preparing your home for a hurricane by making sure the largest opening in your home is reinforced.  Contact an Amarr dealer near you.

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Embrace Your Inner Designer with Amarr Color Zone

Amarr Color Zone

For many homeowners, the design of their home is an expression of their personality.  Since garage doors are often the largest opening in a home, they shouldn’t be neglected when it comes to home design!  With Amarr Color Zone, they don’t have to be.

What is Amarr Color Zone?
Amarr Color Zone is a custom color program for all commercial and residential steel Amarr doors (not available on Amarr Carriage Court).  Amarr Color Zone uses high-quality Sherwin-Williams SnapDry™ paint.  Sherwin-Williams SnapDry™ paint is resistant to dirt, fingerprints and UV weathering, so your new garage door or commercial door will stay beautiful and vibrant for years to come.

Amarr Color Zone Residential Garage Door

By choosing an Amarr Color Zone garage door, you can match your home’s shutters, trim, or entry door, giving any home a more cohesive design and increase curb appeal.  For commercial buildings, Amarr Color Zone can make a bold statement and help any business stand out!

How does it work?
Visit your local Sherwin-Williams store to choose from over 500 Sherwin-Williams SnapDry™ paint colors on our color list.  In a multi-step process, the chosen custom color is applied as a top coat to the Amarr pre-painted, galvanized steel sections, giving your door one more layer of protection from the elements.  Your new Amarr Color Zone garage door will even come with a bottle of touch-up paint to keep your door looking good.

Amarr Color Zone Commercial Door

How do I get an Amarr Color Zone garage door?
Visit our Dealer Locator to find an Amarr dealer near you.  Choose the Amarr garage door and color that’s right for you.  Then, let your inner designer shine!

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8 Ways to Get Creative with Your Driveway’s Contemporary Curb Appeal

By Lauren Dunec Hoang, Houzz

Driveways can take up a lot of front yard real estate but are rarely given as much thought as other areas of the garden. Instead of seeing the area as simply a track for cars, look at the driveway as an opportunity to increase curb appeal and set the tone for your front yard. Here are eight examples of driveway materials and placement that go beyond the usual pavers, cobbles and gravel to complement different styles of front yards.

1. Linear pattern play. Give a classic driveway material, such as poured concrete, a twist with a pattern that makes a design statement. This concrete driveway was poured in a linear pattern, leaving gaps for planting plugs of turf. The finished effect reads almost like an oversize bar-code pattern and complements the home’s clean lines.

2. Eco-friendly. Traditional paved driveways contribute to rainwater runoff, rather than draining water on-site. This permeable surface in Maryland shows a much greener alternative. The designer laid pavers designed with hollow centers and then planted them with plugs of blue fescue (Festuca glauca) sod. The driveway visually melds right into the front lawn and can be mowed to keep fescue low.

3. Contemporary geometry. Set a graphic theme to the front yard with a driveway made up of a repeating pattern of shapes and lines. For example, this geometric driveway transecting a low-water landscape is composed of narrow rectangles of concrete set in a compacted base and then surrounded with crushed limestone.

4. Green strip. Break up an expanse of driveway paving and increase permeability by removing stones and replacing them with planting pockets. The architects of this driveway in Manchester, England, created an irregular edge for the green strip by leaving the outer paving stones of various sizes in place as wheel tracks for cars. Plant the interior strip with lawn or a walkable ground cover such as Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), silver carpet (Dymondia margaretae) or woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus).

5. Courtyard driveway.
Treat your driveway more like a courtyard by extending the footprint beyond the edges of the garage and choosing a stylish paving material. In this Northern California landscape, the architect used a grid of light concrete pavers to form a graphic courtyard at the front of the home. Gaps left between the pavers promote drainage. The area acts as a walkway to the front door and a space for an outdoor table, as well as a car-friendly surface to connect to the garage.

6. Permeable bands. Rather than covering the driveway and carport with concrete, the architect for this home in Austin, Texas, came up with a clever solution to increase permeability and give the surface more visual interest. Alternating stripes of pale-colored poured concrete with dark-tinted concrete pavers (Uni Eco-Stone pavestones) create a graphic pattern and encourage rainwater to drain through the pavers.

7. Postage-stamp garden. On tight city lots, the driveway can take up much of the front yard. To carve out more space for plants, the architect of this San Francisco front yard left green strips down the driveway and planting pockets between concrete stepping stones. The neutral mixed pavers used for the car tracks and the multiple sizes of concrete steppingstones work well together surrounded by plenty of green.

8. Asian-inspired. Granite slabs and smaller cut stone pavers laid in an irregular pattern work well to complement a modern Japanese-influenced garden. Selecting a paving material that relates to the home’s architecture and complements the planting theme can integrate the look of the front yard.

Plant These Perennials for a Colorful Fall Front Yard
Unique House Numbers to Help Your Home Stand Out
Consult Local Architects for an Estimate Today

How would you re-design your driveway? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 Ways the Amarr Smart Wi-Fi Garage Door Openers Help Your Home

This post is part of a series about Amarr garage door openers.  To read other posts, click here.

Amarr 840 & Amarr 860 Smart Wi-Fi Garage Door Openers

Not all garage door openers are created equal!  A new garage door opener can do great things for not just your garage door, but your home as a whole.  The new Amarr Smart Wi-Fi Garage Door Openers feature many benefits for your garage, home security, and smart home capabilities.  Let’s take a look at four of these benefits:

Amarr 860 Wi-Fi garage door opener with downward dispersing LED light


The days of a poorly lit garage are over.  The Amarr 840 & 860 smart Wi-Fi garage door openers bring workspace lighting into your garage.  Both openers boast bright LED lighting, with 1600 Lumens (100W) on the Amarr 840 and a whopping 3000 Lumens (200W) on the Amarr 860!  The Amarr 860 opener also provides a 24-foot wide diameter of downward-dispersing LED light that brightly illuminates the garage.

LED lighting saves energy and lasts over 100,000 hours.  Both Amarr openers allow you to adjust the LED lights to six different brightness levels, letting you select your preferred workspace light setting.  The Amarr 840 & 860 make your garage one of the most well-lit rooms in your house.

Amarr Wi-Fi opener quiet operation

Quiet but powerful

No one wants a noisy garage door.  The Amarr 840 & 860 openers are designed with sound dampening technology to keep noise vibration to a minimum.  The openers are also equipped with a powerful 800N DC motor, with smooth start & soft stop.  Available in chain or belt rail, the openers have intelligent, self-learning, self-adjusting torque settings to work just hard enough without using too much power.  The Amarr 840 & 860 also have a low-power standby mode to reduce energy consumption, making them a sustainable and energy-saving option for your home.

Entrematic Garage Door Controller app for Amarr 840 & 860

Smart control

The Amarr 840 & 860 garage door openers do more than work bright; they work smart.  Control your garage doors and lights from your smart device, from anywhere in the world with the Entrematic Garage Door Controller app!  You can also control access permission to relatives, friends, care providers or service workers, tracking their access activities in real time and removing their access at your will.

Amarr smart Wi-Fi garage door openers also connect to existing smart home technology to make your life even smarter.  The Amarr 840 & 860 are compatible with Amazon Echo, Amazon Dot, Google Home, HomeLink and IFTTT.

Amarr garage door and garage door opener solution

Trusted name in garage doors

Amarr, a leading brand in garage doors, now brings the high quality and safety homeowners expect from garage doors to garage door openers.  Now you can have an Amarr door and opener solution for your home!  With safety features like infrared photo beams, down safety reversal, up safety stop, and emergency quick release, along with a lifetime motor warranty, you can feel confident in choosing Amarr garage doors and garage door openers.

There’s more to learn about the Amarr 840 & 860!  Visit our website for more information.

Which feature would benefit your home the most?  Let us know in the comments below!

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A Vancouver Garage Turns Into a Dreamy Eclectic Studio

By Becky Harris, Houzz

It’s hard to believe that not long ago only the spiders used this detached one-car garage in Vancouver. Even though it was unfinished and full of cobwebs, the homeowner and her interior designer, Andrea McLean, saw the potential it had as a studio space. It was located just across the garden from the house, and they knew it would be free from household distractions when the owner wanted some quiet writing time. Having a good sense of her client’s tastes and knowing her Arts and Crafts house well, McLean created a fresh, functional space, complete with big garden views.

Photos by Luis Valdizon

Point Grey Studio scandinavian

Room at a Glance
What happens here: 
Lots of writing, reading and some lesson planning by a teacher of young children
Location: Vancouver
Size: 100 square feet (9 square meters)
Designer: Andrea McLean of Andrea McLean Design Office

The garage was about the same age as the Arts and Crafts house and had similar characteristics. The contractor gave the garage a big upgrade, replacing rotten and water-damaged framing, adding insulation, creating the proper exterior with vapor barriers and installing drywall. The new tile floors have a radiant-heat system.

Point Grey Studio scandinavian

“Her home’s architecture is traditional, but she likes an eclectic mix,” McLean says. “We wanted to embrace old details but also make it fresh.” The most traditional details in the studio are the mullions on the windows. Back when her writer’s studio was just a dream, the homeowner had collected some key pieces that wound up making it very special.

“Originally she wanted accordion doors that would open completely to the garden, but it just wasn’t in the budget,” McLean says. However, her client had something even better stashed away — back when the neighbors across the street had replaced all of their windows, she had salvaged their old windows from the Dumpster and saved them. The contractor was able to configure the new door and those old windows into a glass wall that offers great views of the garden. All the white in the studio provides a backdrop that makes the garden seem even more vivid.

Point Grey Studio scandinavian-home-office

While the exterior architecture and windows brought the traditional, the white keeps things light, bright and contemporary. The Eames chairs add some midcentury modern style, and the floor is a geometric stunner that is both on trend and timeless.

McLean had always admired the beautiful patterned encaustic tile floors she’d seen in old buildings in Spain and Cuba. Having worked with her client for a few years on her home, she knew her style well, knew that she was a fan of Picasso and Gaudí, and knew that she loved to travel. This gave her the idea to present the design inspiration as a little writer’s studio in Barcelona. Just as she expected, her client loved it.

Tiles: Frame collection, Refin

Point Grey Studio scandinavian

While the floors were a splurge, McLean saved by finding the sawhorse desk and the shelves and cabinets at Ikea. The way the shelves line up against the wall as one big unit gives them a custom built-in look.

The homeowner has loads of literature and psychology books out here — which, McLean assures, usually have their spines proudly displayed. They were turned around by the photo stylist to put the focus on the room’s design instead of the titles.

Point Grey Studio scandinavian

A vintage steamer trunk the homeowner already owned holds costumes and toys for the children she teaches.

Point Grey Studio scandinavian

A classic Eames chair is a comfortable spot for reading. It also adds to the feeling that the little studio evolved over time, as if another writer might have used it in the 1950s.

Point Grey Studio scandinavian

While the homeowner has always enjoyed her garden, she had never made much of this space just off the new studio. Inspired by the studio renovation, she found some recycled bricks on Craigslist and mixed them in with concrete pavers to create an eclectic patio. The lounge chairs are another great spot for reading, having a snack and enjoying the view. She hung some more of her salvaged windows around the garden, further tying her little writer’s studio to the rest of the property.

Chairs: West Elm

Related Links:
Browse More Converted Home Office Projects
The Basics of Midcentury Modern Style
Outdoor Lounge Chairs for Reading and Relaxing

How would you make over your garage? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 Easy Ways to Secure Your Garage for Vacation

Secure your garage for vacation

For many of us, summertime means going on vacations!  Protecting your home from intruders is a crucial step in preparing for some time away.  Here are four easy steps you can take to secure your garage before you leave for vacation and give your family some peace of mind during your R&R.

Secure your garage door opener

A good place to start with security is on the inside.  Most homeowners don’t think about securing their garage door opener, but it is a great idea to protect your home while on vacation!  Many garage door openers have a “vacation mode” setting, which disables garage door remotes and prevents the garage door from being opened from the outside.  If your garage door opener does not have a “vacation mode” setting, an alternative is to unplug it.  Consult your owner’s manual first.

Secure your garage for vacation

Lock your garage door

Does your garage door have a lock?  If so, fastening it while on vacation is another way to add security to your garage.  Locks are not necessary if your garage door is operated by an electric opener.  If your opener is older, check to see if your door can be opened from the outside.  If so, installing a lock could be a good idea for extra home security and more peace of mind.  Find an Amarr dealer near you to learn more about your options.  Remember to disengage your lock before using the garage door opener.  Otherwise, your locked garage door and your operating garage door opener will result in significant damage to your garage door.

Secure your garage for vacation

Install motion lights around your garage

Motion lights are a great way to discourage intruders.  Motion lights detect moving objects within a certain range and illuminate for a period of time when an object is detected.  The lights protect both your home and your neighborhood, as burglars and other intruders are less likely to approach a home with motion lights or a well-lit neighborhood.  Also, many types of motion lights allow you to turn the motion detector settings off, enabling you to use a switch to turn them on and off and giving you more flexibility of use while you’re at home.

Entrematic Garage Door Controller app for Amarr 840 & 860

Invest in a smart garage door opener

Many homeowners are investing in items for “smart homes.”  A smart garage door opener is just another tool to help secure an additional entrance to your home.  For example, the Amarr 860 Wi-Fi garage door opener allows you to control and monitor your garage door and lights from your phone, from anywhere.  You can view activity history and see instances in which your garage door has been opened or the light has turned on, letting you in on what’s going on at your house.  You can also allow others access to your garage – these users, such as dog walkers or babysitters, can even be set to access your garage at certain times only.  A smart garage door opener gives you the most control over your garage and helps keep your home safe!  Click here to learn more.

These tips can help you ease your worries about your home’s security, and let you have a happy vacation!

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Finally Clean Out Your Garage in These 8 Steps

By Jeanne Taylor, Houzz

On my street, every home has a two-car garage. Yet hardly any of the garages are used to park two cars. Even fitting one car in the garage is a stretch for many of my neighbors. Because let’s be honest: It’s pretty common for the garage to turn into a home’s dumping ground.

Often, people stash something in the garage because they can’t decide what else to do with it. Frequently, these stashed items are rarely used. In some cases, they’re never used. Many of us simply own too much stuff and tend to use our garages as storage units, which works as long as you have adequate driveway or street parking. But if you are downsizing to a condo, loft or apartment, you may no longer have the luxury of expansive garage space. Here’s how to seriously downsize the belongings in your garage in anticipation of a move — especially into a smaller home.

Pulaski Carriage House craftsman-garage

What to Do Before You Start

Schedule time on your calendar. If you’re moving, you may already have a long to-do list. Think about adding the garage to your list and even putting a specific time on your calendar to attack this assignment. In my experience with clients, getting rid of belongings in the garage is a time-consuming job, so I recommend you think in terms of days rather than hours. Also, if you already know where you will be moving to, it’s a good idea to measure the dimensions of the new storage space so you have a feeling for how much you need to discard.

Assess your resources. What resources do you need accomplish this task? For your first step, you might look into ordering a dumpster from your local waste management company to dispose of unwanted items and trash. Also, consider researching charitable organizations that can pick up belongings you decide to donate. A list of consignment stores to sell household items to is another great option. If you have more time and are comfortable doing so, you might consider selling more expensive items on Craigslist or eBay. Finally, you might research a local resource where you can dispose of old paint, pesticides, motor oil and other toxic substances as well as electronic waste. These items cannot be placed in a trash or recycling container.

Collect boxes, packing supplies and large trash bags. A local grocery store or pharmacy is a good place to find free cardboard boxes, and many stores are happy to part with them. Craigslist can be another source for used boxes; people often give boxes away for free after they’ve moved. If you prefer new moving boxes, you can purchase them at a local home improvement store or order them online.

Highcroft Hunting Barn industrial-shed

How to Run Your Garage Purging Session

Clear some space and mark off zones. To keep your job organized, you might want to create as much empty space as possible in the middle of the garage floor. Consider moving the car and other large, bulky items, such as the lawn mower and bicycles, out of the garage. I suggest dividing the garage into six sections: donate, sell, toss, keep, return to someone else, and undecided. You can mark off each section with blue painter’s tape or colored chalk. It is helpful to save room on the floor for a staging area where you can place all items from one category before you make any decisions.

Work on one category at a time. I recommend picking a category, perhaps holiday decor, and then pulling every item from that category out of hiding and placing it in the staging area. Don’t forget about belongings stored in the rafters. Try to make a decision on each item in your category before moving on to the next one. If you really can’t decide, place the item in the “undecided” pile. However, try not to put too much in this pile, because it will only delay the decluttering process.

Expect sorting of family members’ items to go slower. Children who are grown and have permanently moved out of the house often think of their parents’ home as a storage unit. This also can be true for an ex-spouse who has moved out of the family home. You are unlikely to have room to store other people’s belongings in your smaller space. Unfortunately, dealing with other family members can sometimes be emotionally taxing. Because of that, I recommend you tackle these items last. That way, you can plow full steam ahead on culling your own belongings and not let any potentially difficult conversations slow you down.

Keep your goals in mind. If you have trouble making decisions to let go of some items, it can sometimes be helpful to envision your new uncluttered space. To quote Marie Kondo’s best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, only keep items that “spark joy.” If you don’t truly love something or actually need it then, it is time to bid it goodbye.

Below are some common categories you might be tackling, as well as suggestions on what to keep and what to let go.

Flow Wall Storage Solutions contemporary-garage

1. Sports equipment, camping gear, beach chairs and old bikes. Move all sports-related items into your staging area and take a serious look at the things in this category, considering whether you will ever use them again. Yes, it was fun to go camping when the kids were young, but do you really plan to go again? Although I love to be outdoors in a beautiful natural setting, at this stage of my life I also love to retreat to a comfortable bed at night. The same goes for bikes, beach chairs, golf clubs, tennis rackets and ski equipment. Try to remember the last time you used each item. If you golf twice a month, then by all means keep your golf clubs. If the last time you used your clubs was in the late 1980s, it might be time to let them go.

Sports equipment, bikes and camping gear are popular items left behind by family members who have moved out. If that’s the case in your home, take all these items and move them to the “return to someone else” section of your garage. Set a time when the belongings can be retrieved. If family members live out of the area, send pictures of the items and ask them whether you can get rid of them. Consider setting a date for the family members to pick up their belongings they decide to keep.

Christmas 2013 traditional-entry

2. Holiday decor. Many of my clients have collected multiple boxes of holiday decor over the years. This is especially true for people who have raised a family in a large home. Fortunately, holiday decor is often relatively easy to part with since it is in storage much of the year anyway.

As you go through these possessions, picture the home you will be moving into. Will there be any outside space to decorate, or will you be moving into a condominium or apartment building with little outdoor surface? Also consider decorations for holidays such as Easter, Independence Day and Halloween. If your kids are grown, do you still decorate for these holidays?

I encourage my clients to free themselves first of large, bulky items that are difficult to store. Then think in terms of duplicates. For instance, do you really need five manger scenes or six menorahs? Think about the size of your new space and decide whether you will be paring down the size of your Christmas tree. This may be the time to free yourself of an overabundance of ornaments and only keep the ones you really love. For those you decide to keep, I recommend purchasing an ornament storage box at a local home store. As you sort, you can place the keeper ornaments in the box (or boxes) so that they’ll be ready for the next holiday season.

3. Suitcases, tote bags, book bags and backpacks. For some reason, I often find old suitcases, tote bags, computer bags and backpacks stored in client garages. Your children may have played sports growing up and received a new backpack every new season. Some people have a hard time discarding an almost-new backpack every year. The same can be said for people who collect computer and tote bags from trade shows. Over the years, this free stuff can get out of control.

Reflect on whether these items are adding value to your life and realistically think about the storage capacity in your new home. I recommend saving only the items you have used over the last year, as well as suitcases you use when you travel. Then donate the rest so that someone else will be able to use them.

Storage Shed Interior Design Ideas traditional-shed

4. Gardening supplies. Ask yourself the following questions when deciding which gardening tools to keep:

  • Will you have a yard in your new home?
  • Will you be responsible for yard maintenance or will a homeowners association be doing it for you?
  • Will you have a lawn?
  • Do you even like gardening?
  • Will you be hiring a gardener?

If you will not have a yard or if someone else will be doing your yard work for you, feel free to donate your gardening supplies and lawn mower. If you will have a small balcony or patio where you can have containers, consider keeping a few small items such as a trowel, weeder and gardening gloves.

ORG Garage Cabinets garage

5. Old shoes. Old and worn shoes often find their way to garage storage. My clients tell me they purchase a new pair of running shoes, hiking boots, snow or rain boots, and athletic shoes and put the old ones in the garage. They usually never get around to discarding old shoes, so the collection can become quite large.

You may want to think seriously about disposing of the unused footwear. It might be worth keeping one extra pair of running shoes if you work out in bad weather. That way, you’ll have a spare pair if one gets wet. Otherwise, I would recommend tossing all old shoes.

6. Unwanted household items. Unused furniture, out-of-date framed prints, abandoned craft projects and grandma’s china are all items I have unearthed in the dark recesses of my clients’ garages. Placing these items in the garage may be a way of putting off the decision to get rid of them. But the fact is, your new smaller home may not have enough storage space to house these items.

To discard these items, I suggest bringing them to a local home consignment store or, if you have more time, attempting to sell them on eBay or Craigslist. If you are in a time crunch, you may want to call a charity that can send a truck to pick up your unwanted belongings. Do keep a receipt and an itemized record of your donations for tax purposes. Goods donated to charity are tax-deductible.

Linen Closet Organizer contemporary-closet

7. Warehouse-size household products. Downsizing to a smaller space is a good time to think about whether you want to stop buying toilet tissue, paper towels, laundry soap and cleaning products at warehouse stores. Products from these stores come in large sizes that take up an inordinate amount of garage real estate.

It’s possible that you’re downsizing because your children have moved out. Therefore, you probably don’t go through as much laundry soap and toilet tissue as you used to anyway. Consider using up your stash, then buying normal-size products moving forward.

Stainless Steel Drawers and Roll-Out Shelves from Dura Supreme contemporary-kitchen

8. Old paint, motor oil, other hazardous waste and electronic waste. These items can’t be tossed in the garbage can, so check with your local waste management or trash service to see where you can dispose of these products. Some companies offer a once-a-year pickup of toxic and electronic waste, while others allow you to schedule a pickup. Some counties have a hazardous waste drop-off location where you can bring these toxic products. High schools and middle schools sometimes host electronic waste drives as fundraisers as well, and my homeowners association hosts a biannual electronic waste collection in the spring and fall. Check to see if your homeowners association provides a similar service.

Related Links:
Toss and Replace Worn Outdoor Furniture
You May Want to Keep Old Cherished Family Quilts
Up Next: The Basement

What part of your garage are you going to get cleaned up first? Let us know in the comments below!

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