Create a Gardening or Craft Station in Your Garage

During summer the typical garage is a hub of activity. In addition to being the primary storage space for most outdoor sporting equipment, your garage also houses gardening tools and supplies.

Many homeowners look forward to working in the yard. After all, gardening can be relaxing and enjoyable. However, hunting through a disorganized garage for gardening supplies is exasperating. Doing so leaves one exhausted before the real work has begun.

Has this ever happened to you?

garage cabinets - rolling workbench, chopping block workstation, slatwall wall organizers, garage windowIf so, you know how frustrating it can be. Locating essential tools and supplies is just the first step. Finding a suitable workspace is quite another. Gardening, bike repair, crafts and hobbies all require a flat work surface. Yet, few garages have dedicated workspace for gardening or other tasks.

Such tasks are handled easily and efficiently in a designated workspace. A reserved workspace also eliminates the need to attempt messy gardening jobs, like planting seeds or re-potting plants, indoors.

A dedicated workspace for gardening and other hobbies can be created in your garage, even when space is at a premium. Like landscaping, it’s a project that homeowners can tackle themselves or hire a professional to handle. A garden workspace can be achieved relatively inexpensively by re-purposing old furniture, cabinetry or reclaimed wood. However, if you require a more comprehensive solution, a garage renovation specialist can help you achieve your vision.

Planning Your Gardening Workspace

after - left corner - workbench, workstation, slatwall organizers, shelving, hooksAs with any project, it’s imperative to have a concrete plan before work begins. Start by assessing your specific needs for a gardening or craft workspace. Ask yourself:

  • What tasks will be performed in the workspace?
  • How much flat surface area is required?
  • What tools and supplies are needed? Where and how will they be stored?
  • How much wall space is necessary to house workspace and supplies?
  • Is the current garage lighting adequate? Is special task lighting required?

If this level of planning is more work than you’re willing to take on, consider hiring a professional to create the space for you. A few of the workspaces Nuvo Garage has created for our clients are pictured. However, if you’re thrilled by the idea of creating your own garage workspace, let’s look at some inexpensive options for doing just that.

Create a Gardening Center in Your Garage

Ultimate Garage Workbench - butcher block top, cabinets & drawersWith your plan in hand, you’ll have an idea of how much wall space is required to create your gardening workspace. Reclaiming this space should be part of an overall garage organization strategy which relies on zones for the storage of related items.

To create a workstation for gardening, or your hobby of choice, you’ll need a flat work surface. Here are a few options for creating one:

  • Get a no-cost work surface by reclaiming an old desk or dining room table taking up space in your attic or garage.
  • Acquire a used table or desk from a garage sale or resale shop.
  • Purchase two relatively inexpensive base cabinets (with doors or drawers for storage). Space them apart. Then lay a flat piece of wood, an old door or a purchased countertop across them to create a flat work surface.
  • Buy a modular or pre-made workbench with space for storage underneath.

Your flat work surface will be the foundation of the space. Next, consult your plan to see what additional storage is necessary.

Workbench for One Car GarageThere are a variety of creative ways to address storage needs. Shelves, baskets and hooks can hold everything from flowerpots and gloves to assorted gardening implements. When coupled with a professional garage wall organization system, shelves, baskets and hooks can be easily moved or adjusted to accommodate any season or craft.

Need to store small items that are easily misplaced? Clear plastic boxes or reclaimed jars provide storage that is easily accessible while keeping contents clean and dry.

All you need is a small space, a well-thought out plan and a few pieces of equipment and accessories to create an organized and highly-functional gardening center in your garage. Creating your own gardening workspace in your garage can be a fun, do-it-yourself weekend project. However, such a space can be part of a larger garage organization and renovation project.

Not quite sure how to make heads or tails of the collection of belongings in your garage? Contact your neighborhood garage renovation specialist for a no-cost, no-obligation estimate.

What to Look for in a Professional Garage Designer

You’ve decided that you’re finally ready to renovate your garage and you don’t want to do it yourself. How do you know which professional garage designer is right for you? Of course, you want to know that the person’s business is licensed and insured. However, there are several other factors that will help you decide whether a garage design professional will meet your needs. Here are a few to consider.


One of the advantages of hiring a professional garage designer, rather than trying to tackle the project yourself, is the knowledge, wisdom and experience that he or she will bring to the project. Every project is different. However, the more renovation projects the person has under his belt, the more scenarios he has encountered. This adds to the person’s overall knowledgebase, which is invaluable on a design project. Ask your potential designer how many projects he has designed. If he has a strong body of work, he should have a substantial portfolio that he is willing to share. Otherwise, your project could end up being where the designer cuts his teeth. Good for him; potentially disastrous for you.

what to look for in a professional garage designer

Testimonials and References

If the designer has a large body of work, then he should also have several happy customers who have given him glowing testimonials. Look for testimonials on the designer’s website. If there are several, that’s a good start. However, how do you know that all of that glowing praise is from legitimate customers? Ask the design pro for references from past clients who are willing to spend a few minutes talking to you. A good designer with a solid body of work, and lots of happy clients, will likely have several.

Work Style and Reliability

When talking to references, don’t just ask about the design itself. Find out what it was like to work with this designer.

  • Was he prompt?
  • Did he deliver on his promises?
  • Was the owner/manager on site?
  • Was the project on time? On budget?
  • Did he clearly communicate about any problems or issues that arose?
  • Was he respectful of their property and that of their neighbors?
  • Did he follow-up promptly with any requests?
  • Have there been any issues since the completion of the project?
  • Would they hire the designer again in the future?

Detailed Proposal

Within a few days of meeting with you and seeing your space, your potential garage design professional should come up with a proposal. If you’ve wanted to renovate your garage for a long time, the moment you get that proposal can be truly exciting. You begin envisioning your new space. Take a hard look, though, at the proposal itself. Is it a simple sketch with few details? Did the person jot down a few ideas on the back of a napkin? A competent garage design professional will provide you with a detailed proposal that clearly defines the scope, timeline and estimated cost of the project.

Customized Solutions

Look closer at the proposal. Does it reflect that the designer took the time to get to understand your lifestyle and what’s most important to you in your garage renovation? Does the proposal make the most of your unique space? Is the designer simply planning to install “out-of-the-box” cabinets and shelves, or are you getting a space designed to fit your specific needs? An experienced design professional will maximize your space by building custom storage solutions that take advantage of overhead space and other areas of the space you probably hadn’t considered. A good design pro will ensure that the renovated space fits your lifestyle and specialized storage needs. For instance, if your family is active and has bicycles, kayaks and other sporting goods, the space will be specifically designed to house those goods.

Service Follow-up Spelled Out in Contract     

You expect, of course, that everything will turn out well on a project. However, it is important to address what happens when things don’t go exactly as planned. What kind of follow-up does the garage design professional offer? Is a warranty offered on the materials that will be used in the renovation, like slatwall, shelving, cabinetry and flooring treatments? Does he guarantee his work? If so, for how long? While such scenarios aren’t pleasant to consider, the possibility of paying for an expensive renovation and being left with shoddy work or materials, and no recourse, is far worse.

Planning a garage renovation is exciting. A well-designed garage can organize your life and beautify your home. However, it is well worth it to do your homework when it comes to choosing the garage design professional that will transform your space.

Would you like to see what an experienced garage design professional can do for your space? Request a consultation today.

What is it that Professional Garage Designers Do?

professional garage interior designer, rick scully, spatial visualization, engineering, design, commercial tools, knowledge, experience

If you’ve ever undertaken a large renovation job in your home, such as the kitchen, bathroom or basement, it’s likely you’ve hired a professional to do the job. Usually only the die-hard do-it-yourselfer with a lot of experience will tackle that type of project. But when it comes to the garage, many people think a few tools and a trip to the big-box store to pick up some simple shelving, cabinets and maybe an epoxy floor coating will do. There’s nothing wrong with what they sell there, but the problem is it’s likely not going to stand up to the test of time and use. A professional garage designer has access to the most durable products specifically designed for garages and the equipment, tools and expertise to create an organized garage that will last a lifetime.


What to expect when hiring a garage designer?


Space visualization

During a consultation a professional garage designer will see the potential of the garage. After doing hundreds of garage renovations, I can easily envision what’s possible in a space. Garages are much more than just four walls and a floor. They’re rarely square and a professional will immediately spot areas to maximize storage. Often there are indentations, or areas such as space above the garage door or on the ceiling to create shelves or overhead storage.


Engineering skills

Your garage professional will know about weight/load capacity. Shelving can be custom-designed and built to make the most efficient use of space while supporting a maximum amount of weight and protecting your loved ones and vehicles from damage.


Design skills

Garages can be beautiful too. A garage professional will pay attention to the look of the space just like any interior designer would for a room inside your home. Choosing a combination of colours and finishes for the wall, floor, cabinets and shelves can really enhance the overall look of the space. Also, an experienced professional will be able to offer suggestions to solve any design dilemma.



If you’ve done DIY projects, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of starting a job and realizing you don’t have the right tool. A garage professional will have tools and equipment needed to complete a quality job. One essential piece of equipment for finishing the floor is a commercial cement floor grinder. In order to achieve a floor coating that will last, the floor needs to be ground down to remove pitting and other imperfections. A floor grinder is an expensive piece of equipment that is usually not available to rent. A nail gun, the right saws and screwdrivers also make for an easier job. Unless you’re doing a lot of construction projects, it’s unlikely you’ll have these types of tools on hand.



There are a lot of things involved in renovating a garage that are not always considered by the average homeowner. Garage professionals know about things such as construction codes, checking moisture levels in concrete before applying a floor coating, and have access to trades such as plumbers and electricians. They can also easily estimate how much space you’ll need to store things. You may look at all your gardening equipment and figure you’ll need a lot of storage room while an expert will know immediately that you’ll only need about six feet of space.

So the choice is up to you. Do you want a temporary solution or do you want to make an investment in your garage that will last?


Open vs. Closed Garage Storage

We’ve talked about purging your garage and getting rid of what you don’t need to keep; now it’s time to think about how to organize what’s remaining.

slatwall - wall organizers, grey, drywall, hooks, garden toolsThis is when you really need to reflect a little on your storage personality: Is it open or closed? Take a look at your kitchen. Do you have open shelves with items stored neatly on display? Or is there a disaster lurking behind the closed cupboards? You might try to keep things neat and orderly, but maybe you’ve got teenagers who sabotage the organization. The same thing can happen in the garage. When we organize, we have the best of intentions to keep everything neat, but life gets in the way and we fall into old habits.

You need to look at the way you live your life and find a storage plan that fits every member of the family’s storage personality. With spring arriving, if you’re an avid gardener, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to walk into the garage and instantly find those pruning shears that always seem to disappear over winter? And you need a place to keep tools, soil, fertilizer and other gardening items. If you’ve been skiing all winter and now your thoughts are turning to golf, you’ll need a convenient place to store your equipment and switch sports with the seasons without a lot of effort. If you’ve got kids, You need a way to keep their stuff organized while keeping them safe when they’re you need to think about them running in and out of the garage with their bikes, toboggans or looking for toys. This calls for different types of storage solutions. To help you decide what will work best for you, let’s look at open shelves versus closed cabinets and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

closed storage solutions - golf locker, garage cabinets lockableWhen you think about things looking tidy, a cabinet with doors sounds appealing. Closed cabinets can work well for organizing in a garage. If you have small children, cabinets with locking doors,to keep small hands from being able to reach for toxic chemicals such as fertilizers and cleaning solutions, is a great solution. A cabinet with drawers is handy for storing small tools for the exotic car guy or DIY-er of the home so they can enjoy a professional-style environment in the garage.There are also tall, locker-style cabinets with shelves above and an open area below to store long tools or golf clubs. Storing everything in closed cabinets give an overall clean look to a garage. But do they really keep you organized? Unless you’re naturally organized (and can train the rest of your family to be the same), things that are hidden can end up messy after a while. And you’ll be paying a premium to hide all your stuff.

You might think that storing things in the open in your garage would make it look messy. But using the right sort of open storage system can actually help you get and stay organized, and potentiallymake it easier for younger members of the family to participate in keeping the space neat and organized. Hooks have a defined purpose and if you take a tool down from a hook, it’s easy to hang it back in its place when you’re done using it. If you’ve started by sorting your garage items into groups, you can then attach baskets and hooks to slatwall. Car cleaning items such as chamois, sponges and soap can go in a basket where they are easily accessible. Kids can have easily accessible baskets for balls, skipping ropes and water toys. Their bikes can also be placed on hooks low down. They’re more likely to put stuff back if it’s got a specific home. Open shelving or platforms can be placed higher on the walls or hung from the ceiling to neatly store seasonal or seldom used items away from eye level. Closed cabinets look a little neater at first glance, but open storage might keep you more organized. It’s also a less-expensive option.

Benefit from the best of both worlds and use a combination of closed and open storage.  Hide the things that you know you can keep organized or need to be locked away, and have the rest out where you can see it. When you’re ready to design your garage storage, ask yourself, “Am I an open or closed door personality?”


Winter Toy Storage

In the great Canadian tradition of celebrating winter, sports equipment that lets you face the elements for pure fun is crucial.  From toboggans and skis to snowshoes, snowboards and skates, there’s a range of winter toys that can enhance your family life when you’re surrounded by snow and ice.

garage entrance to home - effectively leverage space for sports storageThe types and amounts of equipment families have stowed away generally depends on their children’s ages.  When kids are little, toboggans, sleds, crazy carpets and flying saucers are in abundance.  As they get a little older, skis become the most common.

Creating a proper storage solution for your skis, boots and poles is a simple way to protect your investment.  The better you take care of them, the longer they’ll last.  You could store your skis in the house but if they’re not properly dried out, you might end up with wet carpets or slippery floors.  If they are hung on hooks inside the garage, drips won’t matter. Wherever you decide to put them, the best reason to have a designated space is so you won’t have to look around to find everything when the snow beckons.

Hockey gear is another type of sports equipment that can be found in abundance in many households. Ideally, if you insist on bringing your hockey equipment into the house, the ripened under armour, long johns, socks and jerseys would immediately find their way into the washing machine while the pads, pants and gloves would dry out on a laundry rack.  But since late-night ice times are very common, most of the time after the game is over, the sweaty gear gets taken inside the house and dumped in the basement.  Admit it, you’ve done it at least once.

There is a middle ground.  As long as you take your under gear inside, skates, sticks, helmets and pads can be dried out in the garage so the musk doesn’t infiltrate the house and potentially aggravate your housemates. True, your gear will be cooler when you put it into the bag, but by the time you arrive at the rink, it’s more than likely warmed up.  And if you’re playing on a year-round league, for three seasons it’s not even a factor.

One family I worked with didn’t want their young boys bringing their hockey gear into the house.  The optimal solution was to build a locker in the garage for them to hang their skates, pants, gloves and pads using a combination of baskets, shelves and hooks mounted to an end wall.  All the washable stuff went inside with the kids for proper clean up.

Winter is an amazing time of the year.  An organized garage where you can protect your car from the elements, while also accessing everything you need to play in the snow, makes it that much better.

Depending on your budget, needs and taste, I can recommend the perfect cabinets and garage storage systems to accommodate all the athletes in your house.  Our suppliers Hercke, Onex and CTECH offer higher quality and more adaptable products than the typical garage cabinets found in big box stores.  Or if you’d like to discuss a custom storage system for your family’s specific activities which can be a better fit as well as cost effective, I can assist you with a solution to make it easy for everyone to use your garage in a way that fits the lifestyle.

A Brief History of Garages

carriage house for horses, converted for cars garagesOver the next few weeks, I’m going to discuss the evolution of garages: from sheds to what have been called ‘Garage Mahals‘, home extensions that contain everything from work stations to interlocking floor tiles to hydraulic lifts.


The word garage comes from the French garer – to shelter or protect.  It’s an apt name because that’s effectively what garages do.  They protect our cars from the elements.


During the early part of the 20th century, cars weren’t that common because they were expensive.  The first garages were just converted carriage houses that were remodeled to fit cars rather than horses.  Garages that were designed for cars didn’t become common until the early 1920s when car sales increase.  However, demand grew quickly.


By 1925, in fact, garages were on people’s must have lists. According to the June 1925 issue of Atlantic Monthly, ” the first question asked by the prospective buyer is about the garage.  The house without a garage is a slow seller.”


These garages were mostly stand-alone structures, built away from the main house. It wasn’t until the early 1950s that builders started to incorporate garages as part of the house design.  Before this, drivers had to brave the elements when getting from their garage to their home.


Carports became popular in the 60s as a low-cost alternative to a garage – often just roof and four posts, they were popular in warmer parts of North America.


The next major change happened in the 80s.  Garages were built to be conspicuous and large, to make room for families with multiple cars. Thankfully today they’re now being built to be less obtrusive.


The first patent for an automatic garage door opener was issued in 1937, but oddly enough, it didn’t really become popular until the late 1960s.


Fun fact: many businesses have been started in garages, including Hewlett Packard, Walt Disney, Apple Computers and Motown Records.