The home includes a deep one-car garage with an option for a lift, and a one-car carport that connects to the adjacent front courtyard.
Courtesy Zonda Virtual The home includes a deep one-car garage with an option for a lift, and a one-car carport that connects to the adjacent front courtyard.

Today’s single-family garages have evolved beyond merely housing cars. Functioning as genuine extensions of homes, American garages have taken on roles as workshops, storage areas, home gyms, living spaces, and more.

“The garage takes up so much space in terms of footprint on the site,” says Katie Yost, associate and senior designer at Bassenian Lagoni. “It's not conditioned space, so it doesn't count toward square footage, but it's still usable space. So how do you make it usable besides putting a car in there?”

BUILDER consulted a handful of experienced architects at various residential design firms, including Bassenian Lagoni, DAHLIN, TCA Architects, and Custom Home Designs, to find out how they are reinventing the typical two-car garage to be more flexible for homeowners to enjoy beyond their original intended purpose. Check out seven ideas and applications below.

Courtesy Bassenian Lagoni

Adjacent Addition
At a project in Irvine, California, the Bassenian Lagoni team designed a floor plan with a private room behind the garage. This area has separate access from the rear patio and is an ideal private office space, filled with natural light from double doors. Other possibilities for it include a home gym, a dog wash, and storage.

Courtesy DAHLIN

See-Through View
This floor plan by DAHLIN in Canyon Creek has a natural area and views at the rear of the garage. As a result, it offers an optional glass garage door, blurring the divide between indoor/outdoor and bringing natural light into the garage. Doing so brings a new dimension to the quality of garage space, making it much more appealing for alternative uses.

Courtesy Bassenian Lagoni

Creative Carport
Instead of a traditional two-car garage, the Bassenian Lagoni team crafted a unique solution for the 2024 Virtual Concept Home by Livabl. While the plan includes parking bays for two vehicles, a car lift makes it possible to house both autos in just one space. This option creates a carport/outdoor living space in the second garage bay. The carport is designed with 12-foot ceilings and a 9-foot tall garage door, which also creates an opportunity to park an RV or trailer. A privacy screen encloses the area while allowing light and air into the space.

Courtesy San Gabriel Habitat for Humanity and TCA Architects

ADU Adaptation
San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity and TCA Architects are working on a project to showcase how garages can be easily converted into accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The design maximizes efficiency of available space and will ultimately become an ADU for low-income owners and renters. Plans are designed for two-car garages, either attached or detached.

Courtesy DAHLIN

Flexible Functions
Designed to respond to insights derived from The America at Home Study, Barnaby by DAHLIN and Garman Homes includes flexible spaces in all aspects of the home. As such, the garage was designed with a large, flexible space suitable to a wide variety of uses, including a home gym, home school room, an office, workshop, entertainment area, or could even be optioned into a guest casita.

Courtesy Bassenian Lagoni

Tandem Type
Tandem garage configurations lend themselves to imagination. In this townhome at Colony Park in Anaheim, California, the front bay takes on new life as a home gym. Mats on the floor, mirrors on one wall, a television, and an assortment of equipment transform the space into a true amenity. The use of overhead racks at the ceiling allows for additional storage space without expanding the footprint of the garage.

Courtesy Custom Home Designs

The “Shouse”
Also known as a shop and a house, Brad Graber, owner of Custom Home Designs, has embraced the garage in full by designing Plan 1064-148 with a huge attached workshop. With three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a giant garage/workshop, it blends the rugged appeal of a barn with modern functionality.

“The sky is the limit when we start pulling in the fun features we can attach to a large shop space,” states Graber. “I have seen batting cages, archery ranges, RV bays with full hook ups, car lifts, basketball goals, and golf simulators, just to name a few fun things. So why build such a large shop onto your home? The added storage onto your house is the practical answer; however, I feel the entertainment value is worth looking at as well.”