Let's chat about our Garages

gayle0000October 18, 2008

Tell me about your garage!

Do you have a garage with your small house?

Attached, detached, or something else? 1-car, 2-car?

Do you use your garage for parking or for storage?

Any tips, ideas, challenges, or solutions for garage spaces and a small home?


I have a 1 car detached garage. To be honest with you, I bought this place in May (it's now October) and have not yet pulled my car into the garage to see if it even fits. LOL! It's been nice weather & have shoved in my new lawn mower, gardening tools & supplies, and general homeowner garage items with not a lot of effort in getting everything organized & put away correctly and the way I'd like to have it.

Getting my garage put together is my weekend project before we get into the winter season.

My neighborhood is all small homes with mostly 1 car detached garages. Most everyone uses their garage space for storage & not car parking. Everyone parks in their driveways & on the street. I don't have an overflow of stuff, so I could probably park in my garage.

My biggest challenge is the fact that my garage does not have a pedestrian door, so there's no garage door opener. If the power goes out, you couldn't get in the garage. I'm thinking of my first midwest winter in this house and not looking forward to either of my options:

1. I could park in the garage & not have to scrape my car, but would have to manually open & close the garage door everytime I come in & out in the snow and cold (with a 3-year old daughter in tow). Call me lazy!

2. I could park in the driveway so I don't have to deal with the garage door, but I'll have to scrape my car all the time. Yep, lazy again.

I'm gonna have to make a decision and just go with it.

Tell me about your garage!

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My situation is similar: I have a cute brick, original 1910 detached garage that was made to house model-t automobiles! LOL! It is at the end of my skinny paved driveway and the original garage door was removed. The opening was framed in and covered with vinyl and there is a metal storm door that is the only entrance. It is filled with garden stuff, a spare set of tire's belonging to my son, etc. etc.

I park my car in the driveway or on the street which has been fine for the past 11 years, but I wish I had a wider driveway and a covered area to get out of the car.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 9:18AM
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Well our house isn't terribly small (1800, including all of a partially finished basement) but the garage is. Either our '92 Ranger or Corolla will fit in and then we have some small amount of storage along the walls. We have our bikes hanging from the rafters, we have a push reel lawn mower that takes up very little roof. The we just have shovels and other garden tools lining the walls. If you are picturing something nice and organized, don't, :). The garage is old, it leans, the roof sags. The garage door is manual so we just never close it, it also desperately needs to be replaced.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 11:03AM
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Like many homes in FL, we have a 2 car attached garage. Someone apparently got that bright idea that a huge garage door is an architectural feature, because it seems like every house in FL has the garage sticking out. Ours is used for storage and as a workshop, since our house has little storage otherwise, and we don't have enough land for outbuildings. I can't WAIT to build our house in SC, because we'll have a garage just for the car, a basement for storage, and a barn for my workshop. Our current garage could store two cars, but it isn't practical, because you'd barely be able to open the doors to get out. Technically, it's a 2 car, practically, it's not.

I'm hoping to have true carriage (hinged) doors on our new garage, because to me, a typical garage door is just the ugliest thing going.

Something I find odd- in many areas here in FL, it is against zoning to have a detached garage- I wonder why? I would think a detached garage would be much safer from a fire standpoint, although an attached garage is safer if there are wild animals or people in your area.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 4:11PM
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I have no garage and I am sad. :-( My last house had an oversized 2-car tuck-under garage and I really, really miss it, especially in the winter since I live in a snowy, icy climate and chiseling an inch of ice under several inches of snow off your car is a major drag, as is hauling in groceries and suchlike stuff in miserable weather. We had room enough to park both vehicles and still have plenty of space for storing the yard stuff and DH's tools. This summer we tore down the tiny ca.1910-ish garage (you could probably have squeezed a Mini Cooper into it with a couple of crowbars and several gallons of grease, but you'd need a convertible top or at least a sunroof to climb out of because you wouldn't have been able to open the car doors!) to this ca.1900 house because it would have cost well into five figures to repair it enough to be safe for use... the project would have started by jacking the garage up six feet off the ground so a foundation could be dug out and built since there was literally NO foundation and the sills, which had been resting right on the dirt, were so punky you could stick a finger right through them. Our house is on a small, narrow lot so we would not have been able to put in a proper garage even for one medium-sized car. The old garage violated setbacks in spades, it was right ON the property line! We replaced it with a small (8x10'), much more attractive semi-custom shed from a local manufacturer, which allowed us to obey the setback codes while not over-dominating the small yard, and it also forces us to keep our "stuff" under control which I guess IS a good thing. It's just big enough for a mower, weedwhacker, leaf blower, hand tools like rakes and shovels, and two shelf units for small items.

flgargoyle, did you know that you can get gorgeous doors for your garage that look identical to carriage doors but operate the same way as a conventional garage door (like being able to use a regular garage-door opener)? They're pretty impressive. Check out some of the old-house magazines like Old House Journal for manufacturers. Getting out of the car to open swinging garage doors, pulling the car in, and hauling the doors closed again is a big pain in the patoot, especially when it's raining or snowing and if those big doors aren't perfectly balanced (they can be very heavy!).

Gayle, I don't know if replacing the garage door opener is in your budget but you can get garage door openers with a battery backup in case of power failure. Take advantage of vertical storage rather than letting things spread out over the floor - hang up as much stuff as you can, install tool-mounting racks on the walls for shovels, rakes, etc. Pegboard is your friend for small and large items and there are so many storage accessories you can get for it, from single hooks to tool holders to hanging bins. If you have access to the rafter space, get some help putting a sheet of 1" thick plywood up there to create a storage platform.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 6:58PM
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OMG Johnmari! The former owner left a big sheet of plywood in the garage...and I DO HAVE RAFTERS!!!!! I never even thought of that. Genius!

And, no I didn't know there were battery backups on garage door openers. I have a brand-new garage door, and the previous owner installed electricity/lighting in the garage, and an outlet up there specifically for an opener. I'll have to look into that.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 8:30PM
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Our house has an integrated 2-car carport. There is a small shed that appears to be original to the house's construction -- looks sort of like a changing room at a lake. It holds the garbage can, small mower and garden tools.

Thankfully, we have three acres, so we have a barn/workshop, about 20' x 22' with additional storage upstairs. IT has DH's workbenches down one side and we've got shelves and junk along the other side. We also added a lean-to this year to give space for the riding mower and attachments.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 12:11AM
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I used to think our house was one of the smallest in my neighborhood, but after looking through the online appraisal district, I see that ours is actually right in the middle. Most of the houses surrounding me were built between 1350 and 1450 square feet with an attached two car garage, the kind with a 16' garage door. Nearly all of the houses, including us, have also enclosed the garage and built a detached garage. We had 1400 and now have 1800 square feet of living space.

The houses were built with a side entrance garage with not enough turning room for anything but a small car. We did get our extended cab pickup in it a couple of times, but had to swing out into the grass to do it. And if two cars were ever in it, the driver of the car on the right would have to get out on the passenger side. That was only one of the reasons we enclosed, but when we built a new garage, it was facing the front. It is a wide two car with 2 single doors.

Now it is crammed with stuff, and like you, I need to spend some time straightening so we can get at least one car in. Even with the extra width on this garage, back when we were parking in the garage, I found that stuff left around the perimeter kept us from being able to get around the cars. My plan is to make shelves around the top of the walls about a foot or 1 1/2 foot below the ceiling. Then it will be out of the way when we are walking but will still store a lot. We also have bicycles and a golf cart that will keep us from being able to get 2 cars in there. I'd like to have a carport or shed for the golf cart so I can park in the garage too. I hate unloading groceries in the rain.

I would like to only have car and boat related stuff in the garage, but it seems like everything ends up in there because that's where we work on stuff. We also have a shed for lawnmowers, edgers, yard tools, hand tools like hammers and saws, and various electric tools. It's a mess too because we have a lot of yard equipment.

flgargoyle, in town they have the same restriction on garages, but if a detached garage has a covered roof from it to the house, it's within the code rules. We have a friend with a long zig-zaggy breezeway to their garage just so they can get it insured.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 4:01AM
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I've seen overhead garage doors that look like carriage doors- until you get close to them. My grandparent's door was a single piece, not articulated, and it opened overhead, but you had to be sure not to have anything in front of it, since it swung out into the driveway quite a bit. I don't know if they make those anymore. They do make electric openers for carriage doors, but they are expensive, and I guess there are safety issues and windy day issues.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 11:27AM
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Is a carriage door one that slides to the side for opening? If so, that's what we have on our detached 1-car garage. There's also a carport attached to the front of the garage, and that's where we park one of our vehicles. (The other's my always-dirty Jeep Wrangler that's parked in the drive. I couldn't care less if it stays dirty and water-spotted.) DH parks his motorcycle in the garage, as it doesn't get much use, and we also store lawn equipment and my bicycle in there. (DH is having some sort of strange love affair with his bicycle, and it gets to sleep inside. In the dining room. ::sigh::) The door to the garage is so heavy and cumbersome to open that it makes me tired to even think of using the garage on a daily basis. Still, I find it rather charming. Oh, and it's got rafters too!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 11:54AM
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I think of a sliding door as a barn door, which is fine, if you have the room. The garage I designed wouldn't have enough wall space to slide the door open. I don't see why I door like that couldn't be motorized somehow. What I mean by carriage doors are doors that swing open like a regular door- usually in pairs. It's like french doors for cars. So you need two openers, and swing room in front of the door and I've heard there can be trouble on windy days.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 12:20PM
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I always thought my garage door would not open when the power was out-- but then a neighbor showed me that if you yank on the red handle that hangs down on a string from the opener it disengages the electric opener and the door can be opened and closed manually. Go figure! Just thought I would mention this in case it is the same with yours-- That was two houses ago and has been the case in both houses since then as well, so it must not be that uncommon.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 1:21PM
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Ah, I just found a photo online that's almost identical to my sliding garage door, except mine doesn't have (what appears in this photo to be) a window in it. Notice these guys have removed this old door from their project. ;-)

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 2:32PM
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Personally, covered parking is a must for me. I recently lived in an apartment for about two and a half years and had to run back and forth in the rain, lightining, whatever. Not to mention all those mornings coming out and defrosting my windows before I could pull out of the parking space. Call me lazy or spoiled but I like to leave a dry house and enter a dry car.

I prefer an enclosed garage and would use it as such. As I have mentioned before, I have a few toys, canoes, lawn tools, etc. and prefer to keep them locked and dry.

The garage as an architectural feature comes from craming houses on small lots and not providing any other access such as alleys. More or less a neccasary evil.

So, when I start from scratch, attached, covered parking will be part of the plan from the beginning.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 8:05PM
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Mine is a single deep attached garage. Plenty of room for a car and storage beyond parking. There is a door in back to the yard, but no door into the house. I really miss walking right into the house. There is a large overhang to the front of the house and front door which provides cover to and from.

I have to have room for the car in a garage. Too much snow going on at my end of this world. It has to be difficult to deal with this on a daily basis if not being able to use yours.

Johnmarie....Funny, my Mini Cooper is perfect in the one car garage. Leaves a lot of room for more storage and still getting into/out of the car. You couldn't rip my Mini away from me even if there was a 2 car garage.

Love the look of carriage doors. You can buy the trim pieces for existing doors. They are available in iron, plastic or metal magnet. Really wanted to do this, but my door has 3 windows. Not quite an image of a double door.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 10:09AM
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We added a big 3-car garage to our small house. At 900 square feet, it's almost half the size of our Our remodeling goal has been to match the high-end amenities of fancy new construction in this area, but in a smaller overall package. Hence the 'piggy' garage (as my cousin commented). We love it, though. It is supremely useful.

Here's a pix...

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 8:57PM
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Er....detached. 2 car. 28' wide, 32' deep. With an 8'
covered overhang.

Want to hear about the workshop?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 9:48PM
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Carol, is that the garage behind your house? And is that a park and path beside the house? Your house is really cute and I would love to be beside a park and jogging path.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 1:06PM
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Hey, I see this thread got resurrected. Thought I'd post an update. In my original post, I said I'd never lived through a winter in this house yet, and wasn't sure if I wanted to park in the garage & have to manually open & close the door all the time...or just park in the driveway and scrape.

I ended up parking in the garage. After the first snowfall and experiening the joy in not having to do snow removal, manually opening & closing the garage door is a no-brainer.

And, with it being a single-car garage and owning an SUV...the garage is actually bigger than I thought once I got parked in there.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 4:15PM
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I have a 24 x 32 garage with an 8 x 10 addition on the back, which was built for my hubby to dry pepper in but with his head injury he just never did it much.

we are planning an addition to the side of our garage the full length 32' and about 16' wide..we need shelter for our tractor cause otherwise it sit in the snow in the winter or our sons garage (which means a car is left out)

my garage is big enough for more but we park 3 cars in it..we have an area of storage and an area of woodworking shop, in the main garage..we have recently built some other sheds, so a lot of the storage will be leaving the garage, and a lot left this week to our son's house.


i have 2 overhead front and one overhead rear door and one side door to our house..not attached..about 50' away.

there is also a rear door to the addition which has french doors off the back and salvaged windows in it from our victorian house which burned..2002..we have a wood burning stove in the addition..

the garage needs updated and painting..and needs to be totally cleaned and revamped on the inside..

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 12:55PM
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We have a detached shop/garage.It is 30 by 30 with 12 by 30 lean to on the side. There is also a twelve by eight storage loft built into one corner with a real stairway up to it. Hubby built his work bench in under the stairs and loft. We park the Skidsteer in the lean to and it is nice DH can pull right out to start plowing snow as needed. We park the car and truck inside the shop.

It would have been nice to have house and shop attached. We could not work it out on our property. We have an odd shaped triangle lot. Please forgive the landscaping. We just bought the place last March with nothing but thistles on the whole lot. So in just about a years time we now have house and shop and I hope this year to get a yard in.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 10:32AM
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shades you did like we did (mine above) put your garage closer to the street than the house..originally we had a 200' driveway, when we built the garage we built it over the old driveway spot but closer to the road..in Michigan, that cuts the amount of snow to remove down to a lot less..and the distance to the road is less..we have a little more than you I think..we are about 60' from the road to the front of our garage.

the photo is the back of our garage..above...but this picture i was standing on the road or close to it..this was taken 5 years ago when we were patching holes and getting ready to paint the garage so excuse the ugly paint job..picture before of back shows it partially repainted..after we put the rear addition on..still needs more work yet !!! talk about lazy !

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 12:53PM
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I have a small one like many here have commented on. I have a car in it, though I did have to climb out the windows since I have some drywall against the wall inside. I am trying to figure out what to do with the garage.

It has an 8 foot door, which I'd like to open to 9. It'll be close if I have enough room. Or I just may open it up to make a glorified carport. I plan to build a "real" garage in the back, and this will become a drive thru garage to get into the new one. Though I still would like a carriage door on the front garage for aethetics.

Speaking of carriage doors, they make some really nice ones these days. Mine will be a semi custom wood door, that looks like the real deal, even when up close. They even notch the center groove out (and paint it black) to look like a door that opens in the center. In this area, that's about $2,000 installed, which I think is a decent price considering I want it to look period correct, and a garage is a very prominent feature.

I'm going with one of three choices: Clopay Coachman, Clopay reserve wood doors, or a custom built wood door that will actually be a tad cheaper than either option above. It'll depend on my mood that day I guess.

Here is a link that might be useful: Clopay Coachman doors

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 3:31PM
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ronbre, Our house and garage are actually parallel to each other and the same from the street. The road makes a slight bend and this is such an odd shaped lot. I know Triangle but at one end the property line is 30foot in from center of street . At other end up the road the property line is right at the edge of the road. We are set back 30 foot from the road and that is the required 15 foot back from property line.

We used to have 1/4 MILE long driveway so guess we over compensated for that here. We really did not have much choice again because of the shape of the lot and having to get a septic and leave room for a replacement line for the septic if ever needed and room behind the house for the dogs yard. AND and other huge consideration is the ground sloped away sharply towards the back of the lot and in order to build on undisturbed ground we had to stay as close to the street as we could. Yes a day light basement would have been nice. LOL Too expensive. We have a steep bank behind the house all fill to the dogs yard is reasonably flat. And yes DH was careful to to grade it away from the house when he did the fill. I do not have any pictures of the back of the house. Just this one showing the side from the neighbors house.

The neighbors little shed blocks most of our back yard but you can get an idea. The dog yard is fenced with the green horse panels.There is a door out from the master bathroom into the back yard. I know seems weird but certainly works for us. AND maybe some day we will have another hot tub. This was taken Jan 28th. We still had quite a bit of snow then. It is almost gone now.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 7:16PM
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we had to put a raised drainfield here cause the water table is so high so we raised the house up 4' above the other grade, so that drainfield could be raised..so now the house and drainfield are up making a rise the house sits on..it was a challenge but we figured out how to incorporate the raised drainfield and slopes of the house into the landscaping by making a round lawn on top of the drainfield with a garden bed all around down each slope and around the entire house..we have been working on it for 6 years now since our house was put in..but it isn't finished yet..

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 7:54PM
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Ronbre, I love every picture you have posted of your yard and flowers!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 10:09PM
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thanks Marti..it is definately a work in progress..and actually with the snow still melting here progress is really slow...but I love it.

a lot of people wouldn't "ever live in Michigan where there is snow 9 mo out of the year" or so they say, but I honestly can't think of another place I would ever live..and if someone offered me a million for my home, after all the work i've put into this little place..i'd never take it for the world

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 12:46PM
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ronbre I sure wish I was as far along in our yard as you are. We=ME,are just beginning. I am seeing green out there. Sadly it is green thistles and nasty weeds already showing. And I can not get out there and do anything about it yet.

I got one flower bed planted down the court yard side of the house and some honeysuckle vines around the front porch.Several lilac bushes around the out side of the dogs yard before winter. The rest will be mostly containers. This year my health will be better so I hope to get much more done. Moving took its' toll on me.

I am swooning over your hostas and what look like poppys, viloets. You are my kind of gardner. :^)))

Back to the garage thing. My husband built my storage loft less then full height. It is ok but full height would have been so much better. I can stand up between the rafters and just have to remember when to duck. I think the shop wall height is only 14 foot. I am only 5'5" but it can be hard on a back having to stoop and lift.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 1:04PM
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We just moved into our little house, 794sf, one bedroom and our garage, (well, its not really a garage), but its large enough to park our 40' motor home in. We love it.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 12:34AM
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Moving-on. Very cute house. Nice place for the RV too.Nice the way it fits in with the house. Chris

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 1:09AM
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marti8a, thanks for the compliment... I love my cute house. Yes, that is the garage behind the house. And the red stone path outside the fence is our driveway, not a park path.

I used to live in a river town that had a great jogging path along the river, down at the end of our street. It was wonderful being so close to a park with an exercise path.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 8:49PM
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that is a very clever and cute garage, i can honestly say one of the most unuual and well matched i have ever seen !

Shades my son and I built our garage when he was about 12, honestly we should have planned better, there isn't a lot of storage in the rafters at all..and you certainly can't stand up..we made our sidewalls 8' on top of blocks and we have a decent pitch, but not much room up there..my son was more contemplative on his..he made 12' side walls and a huge lofty rafter area..smart kid..don't know where he got that !

Thanks so much for the comments about the garden..those hostas were moved right before i took that picture last year..we were working on the gardens..seems like we do a lot of that..don't know if you ever get them how you want them..today my son put the mounting board on top of a very tall cut off telephone pole by our pond to put a 24 apartment martin house on that my brother in law made for us a while back..we just never got it up on a pole...in this picture you can see it sitting on a rear deck..several years ago (me waiting to get it up still)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 10:26PM
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That's a beautiful bird house! Wow.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 3:41PM
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well we got 8 " of snow..so it still sits..hope someday it is up on the pole. my brother in law made it..it was up on a trellis one time..but not high enough..but it has been sitting on the deck now for 2 years

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 9:45PM
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I have a small house (1320 sq ft) and a detached garage (24 ft x 32 ft). It used to have two garage doors but it is now one as we bought a new boat last summer and it wouldn't fit in the smaller ones. There is no room for my car, as there is a riding mower, walk behind mower, ski boat, 4-wheeler, large chest freezer, ice chests, Christmas stuff, lumber, hunting stuff like deer climbers, fishing poles etc etc. It is a 'enter at your own risk' kinda place.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 10:12PM
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Our CA home is 1536 ft^2, with an attached two-car garage. The garage doors slide open from side-to-side and we had a special automatic opener installed - works great.

Both cars and a lot of stuff are in it. I want to clean out the junk, add organizers from Ca Closets for neatly storing our hundreds of books and pantry items, and move the W&D out there. (Right now, they are in the hallway of our home - that's the way this mid-century modern home was built in 1960).

The home has 4bd/2ba, but the back bedrooms are really small and I need to either throw away or move a lot of stuff to the garage...Robbing Peter to pay Paul.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 3:49PM
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Don't throw things away - Freecycle is your friend!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 6:20PM
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I can't wait until Fall when we are all talking about how clean and neat our garages are and how our cars are happily in there with organized walls..and no piles of stuff..we all really want to work on our garages for sure..I for one have a new garage door in the box waiting to go up..i put one up last year..with windows in it..and the other is in the box..we are planning an addition to the east side of our garage this summer for tractor storage..kinda like what Chris (shades of idaho) has on hers..either a leanto type with posts and roof..or hopefully someday finished with a overhead door..but a start this year anyway..

Joel doesn't like a wet tractor seat esp when it is -40 deg F.

can't say as i blame him..

our garage needs paint this year too and new facia..but that might have to wait..as we have a lot of stuff on our plates..

anyway..here is hoping to updated inside and outside garage pictures posted fall 2009 !

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 9:01PM
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After yearning all my apartment-living life for a house with a garage...I finally have one and rarely use the garage! We can fit one car in there and still have a little storage room in the back, but I generally only pull in (sometimes) if a big storm is coming.

Like most in this neighborhood, it's a detached, single wide, cinder block style. It has windows on either side and a door near the back, but the framing is coming loose and/or things have settled so much that the door won't close because it doesn't fit the opening anymore. We keep it closed with a padlock to a metal hinge type thing!

And at one time it had electricity, though never a door opener. We can't figure that out - there's a light switch, a light bulb and an electrical wire that runs along the top of the cinderblock near the rafters - only we can't figure out where it goes INTO the garage! We suspect that it ran underground and got messed up when they extended the kitchen backwards and built a deck, or maybe the appropriated the breaker for something else?

So, it's a pretty shabby garage painted an appalling lime green on one side, but I'm still happy to have it. Haven't done much to it besides adding a pegboard to the walls to hang garden tools on.

Even more important than a garage on the wishlist for my next house would be a double driveway. We live in a city that doesn't allow overnight parking and doing the car shuffle in our very narrow single wide driveway is a real pain!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 7:44PM
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Black Three-Tier Wire Shelf
$29.99 | zulily
4' Red Cedar Cross Legged Bench
CW1SW Wall Control by Fanimation Fans
$27.00 | Lumens
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