Garages often are the last room a homeowner sees in the morning before leaving for work and the first room he or she sees when returning home. Often perceived as just a storage area for old paint cans, trash and recycling bins, and miscellaneous items that don’t belong anywhere else, garages can be an eyesore that most are happy to shut their door on and forget about. Garages, however, have enormous potential for custom storage solutions. More homeowners are beginning to understand the value of these solutions, and garage remodels are becoming more widespread.
Rob Whitfield, owner of Garage Storage Solutions, Augusta, Ga., has been installing custom garage cabinets for six years. “Quite a few of my customers tell me not to look at the mess in their garage, and I tell them I’m here to help them clean up their mess,” he says. “A lot of homes that I go into you can’t even walk through the garage because they have so much stuff in piles and stacks. They’ve gotten desperate in many cases. The family has just had enough. The garage is unusable.”
One particularly memorable customer was a couple who hadn’t been able to park their cars in the two-car garage for years because of the piles within. Whitfield installed cabinets in half of the garage, which cost the owner about $1,500. When the husband returned from a business trip, he was impressed. “He said he needed some cabinets on the other half. I had installed cabinets only on her half of the garage and now he wanted them on his half to get all of his stuff off the floor. It turns out he had an ATV in there somewhere but there was so much on top of it he couldn’t reach it,” Whitfield remembers.
The Average Job
An average two-car garage measures about 450 square feet, and Whitfield says his average job costs the customer between $1,200 and $1,500. Normal projects are about 12 linear feet, though he has done installations up to 36 linear feet where the cabinets wrapped around the entire garage wall. Garage cabinets are priced at about $100 per linear foot, according to Whitfield. Each cabinet has a door and shelves within. The 6-foot-tall cabinet has five shelves inside, but that number can be customized based on the customer’s needs. Whitfield can install four 6-foot-tall, 16-inch-deep, 24-inch-wide cabinets down one wall of a garage. Even with as much storage as this provides, the cabinet doors can still be fully opened and car doors can be, too, though not always at the same time. Other popular cabinet options include a 48- or 72-inch-long workbench with 12-inch-deep bins or 6-inch-deep drawers in the cabinets below.
One customer had stacks of boxes 6-feet tall that filled the entire garage with the exception of a 3-foot perimeter around the outside where he could walk. “Most people use their garage doors as entries into the house,” Whitfield says. “I guess seeing the mess gets old after awhile.” That customer called Whitfield, who installed 12 2-foot-wide by 2-foot-deep by 6-foot-tall cabinets in the garage. Everything the customer previously had in the boxes fit into the new cabinets and he regained use of the garage.
After an initial consultation at a customer’s home, Whitfield draws a layout using CAD software to give the customer various options. “We usually modify the drawings to customize the installation for the customer’s needs,” he says. For example, he’ll stack a 3-foot-tall cabinet on top of a 6-foot-tall cabinet to give the customer additional storage that is out of the reach of children so they can’t get to pesticides, cleaning fluids and other toxic chemicals. The projects Whitfield installs have end uses anywhere from a pantry to a workbench to general storage to a tabletop hobby center.