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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Help garage fulfill its potential

By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon

With a narrow driveway, a one-car carport and no parking on the street, parking was always an issue for the Smith family.

For some, garages are among the least exciting home renovation projects. But for others, the garage is the only exciting home renovation project. The truth is, because a garage is one of the most functional and practical elements of your home, it holds a great deal of potential for making your home function at its best.

Henry Ford made the first makeshift garage. His first invention was created in a coal shed, but the door was too small for the vehicle. So he broke out the wall to make a larger opening. Early car owners tried to house their cars in carriage houses or stables, but they didn't work very well. So people began to build "car houses." The term "garage" came from the French garrer, meaning "to shelter."

There are two types of garages. First, there is the attached garage, meaning it is attached to the house. The advantage to an attached garage is the proximity to the residence, making it easy to carry things from the car to the home and to avoid foul weather.

The second is the detached garage. Often if a lot is too narrow to accommodate the extra width of an attached garage, an alternative is to place a detached garage behind the home. While this type of garage is farther from the house and exposes you to the weather, it can also be a great solution for your home. For instance, depending on the size of your lot, the garage has the potential to be much larger if it is detached.

With the addition of a detached, two-car garage behind the house, the Smiths are able to shelter their cars and store their stuff. For them, giving up some space in the back yard was a trade-off well worth making.

Our clients Stuart and Martine Smith found this to be the case for them. Their home originally had a one-car carport and a narrow driveway with no possibility of adding an attached garage. In addition, their street is particularly troublesome for street parking, so their parking options were limited.

But the Smiths had space to work with in their backyard. So they decided to forgo an attached carport for a much more functional detached garage. They did have to give up space in their yard, but as Martine says, "The convenience of having a garage far outweighs the few feet of yard space we had to give up."

That convenience comes through the many functions garages accommodate. They keep cars off the street and out of the weather. They provide added security. They make a good home for tools and workbenches. They are excellent storage spaces for garbage cans, yard equipment, recreational gear, and the dreaded (but ever present) "miscellaneous items," not the least of which are Christmas presents and decorations. You'll probably be spending some time in your garage this weekend!

While you are out there, look around and ask yourself if your garage is living up to is potential. Next week we'll talk more about how to design a garage that will function for your family and how to make it an attractive, not just practical, part of your home. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

© 2005 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.

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