My Renovation Magazine Special Feature
With train fares and traffic delays on the rise and water cooler conversations taking over from the job in hand, having a home office is something many dream of but believe they don’t have the space for such a luxury.
Whilst lofts and spare rooms are often converted for this very purpose, time and again garages are overlooked which is surprising given that it is a space that tends to be under used but full of potential.
Knowing where to start might be overwhelming, especially when a garage looks barren and unloved, but we have some easy ideas that will turn an empty shell into an exclusive workspace that will put an end to commuter misery, politics and hot desking disappointment.
Let’s be honest, many garages are full of clutter and mess so the first step towards creating a usable working environment is clearing up.
Half used pots of paints, petrol cans and random tools need to be thrown out or stored safely. If need be invest in internal storage solutions or buy a shed for these items and designate the garage as an office only area.
Clean the walls, repair any cracks and damage so you have a blank canvas on which to create a new workspace. Exciting times lie ahead when you can clearly see what you have to work with.
Many garages do not come with the luxury of windows or any real source of natural light. This isn’t the end of the world but it is an issue you may want to address. Having an element of natural light benefits good health and efficiency so if budget and planning permits, consider having a window or two created, you will be amazed at the difference that it will make.
If this isn’t possible then opt for spotlights, a good desk lamp and any additional lighting to make the area as bright as possible, but do consider the bulbs you use, as you don’t want to be blinded.
Paint walls in whites or pale greys to create a bright, clean environment and consider hanging pictures of the outdoors on the walls – the subconscious can work wonders with images of water, the countryside and the ocean.
Heating and Ventilation
By nature, most garages are hot in the summer and cold in the winter, neither of which are conducive to efficient working or a regulated body temperature. It is unlikely that you will have central heating in your garage therefore other options need to be explored.
Invest in a good fan or air conditioner for the summer and again adding a window or two can work wonders when it comes to ventilation and fresh air circulation.
In the winter you don’t want to retreat back to your living room or employer’s office because of chilblains so go for a radiator-style oil heater. These are safer than coil or fan heaters but still heat surprisingly well and tend to be economical.
Most garages will have a cold, concrete floor so this is something you will definitely want to look at. The first step is to clean any stains and sticky messes either by scrubbing the floor or using a power washer. Once you have done this you can start looking at options such as carpet, rugs or specifically designed garage resin flooring or tiles, an area in which we specialise at Garageflex. The great thing about these is that they are hardwearing, easy to clean and non-slip. Whatever you go with pick neutral, bright colours that will keep your new office looking light and inviting and wash away that feeling of it being a garage.
If you are going to work from your garage you need to ensure it has the correct power needs. You are making an investment so get an electrician to check the electricity is safe, in good working order and is weather and waterproof.
If you are going to be running computers, printers, phone and tablet chargers as well as heating solutions it is vital to ensure you have enough sockets. Do not overload extension cables as this could end in disaster.
Using the Space
Once you have an empty, clean space you will see that your garage has far more potential than you ever imaged. From the start decide what you need from your home office. Is it going to be an open plan space or would it be better to section off areas for specific uses?
As well as your desk, consider the need for filing cabinets and shelves, a designated kitchen area for making tea and coffee, a meeting space and even a chill out zone for brainstorming or simply taking a break.
Again when you are planning the layout consider light sources, access in and out of the garage (you don’t want your desk against the main garage door) and the flow of the room. Using screens and partition walls can be an effective way to create additional spaces and remember that many of these costs can be deducted when you file your tax return.
Depending on where you live and the location of your garage, outside noise maybe a consideration. If your garage is based directly on the main road, outside a bus stop or close to a school you may find the noise distracts you and can become a nuisance.
Consider some form of insulation if you have the budget otherwise schedule calls and meetings for quieter times of the day, have the radio on for background distraction and consider using ear plugs for any important research projects or document writing.
Decor and Comfort
Last but not by any means least, you will be spending a considerable amount of time in your office so make it a place where you want to be and ensure it is comfortable.
Invest in good quality, fit for purpose furniture, a supportive chair and sturdy desk. You could also consider a fixed workstation and add accessories as and when you need them and this is something we can offer at Garageflex.
You can use existing shelving and cupboards for storing files and books or buy new items that co-ordinate with the rest of the room to give a really professional look. At Garageflex we offer a versatile range of storage solutions that are perfect for ensuring files, books and even stationary in order and out of sight.
If you have a meeting area ensure you have a table and chairs and maybe a sofa, use bright accessories and small touches such as vase of flowers can really transform a simple space into something special.
Put art on the walls, get a docking station or radio, consider having a TV on the wall, buy matching mugs and create an office you are proud of.
In no time at all you will have a fantastic office and will wonder why you didn’t make the switch sooner.
Garageflex offers custom designed and installed garage ranges including storage, flooring, worktops and accessories that can help create a bespoke usable space for any home. For more information please visit oldwp.garageflex.co.uk