Garage Conversion – Guest Post!

Remember my friend Jenn who blogged about her dresser refinishing project back in September?  Well she has written up a new guest post for us!  This one is about her garage conversion project from last spring.  Check it out and get inspired!

Also, in case you haven’t seen the posts, Jenn’s pregnancy is also being photo documented on the blog.  We’ll have the week 32 pic up later this week!


With Christmas having come and gone and the snowy weather here to stay, I figure what better time to start daydreaming about those wonderful spring renos! I felt like a walk down memory lane, so here’s one that we did last Spring.

Plenty of people have a garage attached to their house or next to their house and I personally find these to be the bane of existence in that they seem to just accumulate junk. When we moved into our house we couldn’t help but notice in the spring as garage doors would open up and down the street for spring cleaning, people seemed to be sifting through mountains of boxes of stuff they don’t need. I’ve always favored the idea that if it can’t fit in your basement, your closets and maybe a small backyard shed, then you have too much stuff and you should clean your life out!

We wanted to make use of our garage and create a space that would act as added square footage for our small bungalow (especially since we were baby planning and living in a two-bedroom bungalow, we would need the second bedroom for baby-to-be). My husband works as a sound engineer, so he needs a studio space to work from. In our last home we made a space in one of the spare bedrooms, but it’s certainly not ideal. With the opportunity to renovate the garage, we thought what a perfect time to create a warm, inviting, soundproof space for him, his clients and his friends; somewhere where he can go to work without having to go too far. And so our garage conversion project began.

This is what our garage originally looked like…

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Now before we go taking all of the credit for this project, I will disclose upfront that we had fabulous help. We enlisted the help of Bob who is an expert tradesman, and an accomplished renovator, as well as my mom who is about the handiest mom you’ll ever meet.

We started by checking the existing wood structures (seen in the previous pic) to ensure that there was no wood rot or water damage, which there wasn’t. Then we laid vapor barrier and framed the floor (that’s Kaesey the dog in the  background). In laying the frame for the floor, we leveled it and learned an important trick about shimming the floor joists properly to avoid any bounce in the floor…

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We then insulated the floor with Roxul and laid the floor sheets…

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Our music set-up…

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Framing the walls was next…

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Here’s an important thing to remember with any renovation…furniture and spacing! We had a nice furniture set that we wanted to have in the studio and realized that it wouldn’t fit through the alley way next to the house, so it was important to remember to carry it in (and then work around it) for the remainder of the project. The furniture doesn’t fit out the back door or the garage either, so this was the only way in and now there’s no way out. 🙂

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My main job throughout the project was insulation…

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You can just call me the master insulator…

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I’d say the most advanced parts of the project that required the expertise of Bob were running the hose faucet (which was in the garage) outside. He had to cut through the brick of the house and solder the pipe, and framing in the garage door to create a bulkhead. We wanted the garage to be secure, so the door can’t physically open now, it is permanently locked and framed in place.

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After insulating, we applied the vapor barrier and dry walled and then spent our evenings taping and puttying the walls.

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Mikey found this great door for $50 at Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Store and we cut it down to fit the small size of the doorframe.

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After finishing the dry walling, we painted and enlisted my mom’s help (super handy woman that she is) to lay the floors. She had found discounted commercial grade Marmoleum flooring for about $10/box (of 20 sq ft) at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. The typical cost for this flooring is approximately $7/sq ft (or $800-1,000 for a space this size) and this is the beauty of the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. If you do your homework and know what you’re buying (not everything is a steal of a deal 100% of the time), you can save some serious cash and all while supporting a great cause!

Mike working the floor with mom supervising…

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Laying snap in flooring is a great way to go because nearly anyone can manage the job. It does require patience and precision though. On more than one occasion, you’ll need to pull up the planks and start over when they’re not properly secured. With just a simple saw, you can trim the floor planks yourself. Remember: always leave the floor breathing room around the edges of the room because floors expand in the summer and if you lay them too tight, they will bubble up.

After laying the floor, we had our electrician come in to install one baseboard heater along the interior wall.

Really coming along…

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Finally, Mike has spent the last 6 months outfitting the space to his unique style and personality and customizing sound treatments for the acoustics in the room.

The before and after…

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My hope is that a project like this serves as inspiration that it is possible to take on these types of projects yourself. Now this one did require support from the experts, but a lot of the work that we did ourselves are tasks that many people find intimidating (insulation, vapor barriers, drywalling, taping, puttying, floor laying). These are skills that we’ve developed over the past number of years, but if you have a handy friend to guide you (or Youtube), you can figure a lot of it out yourself (with a few years of some fun trial and error), save yourself a lot of money, and build great teamwork skills with your spouse or partner.

All in all, this project took us three weekends to complete (with a crew of four of us for 8 hours each day and then Mike and I working an additional 4 hours each night).

The total project supplies cost was under $3,000:

$2,700 – miscellaneous supplies (lumber, drywall, Roxul, tape, putty)
$50 – door
$60 – flooring


Wondering what post might pop up next?…garage conversions, backyard sheds, nurseries and tile backsplashes oh my!

6 thoughts on “Garage Conversion – Guest Post!

  1. Nice work! However I was wondering how you decided to provide a source of heating for this room. Insulation reduces the rate of heat loss but provision of insulation alone won’t keep the room warm. If you provided an electric space heater did you also need an electrician to bring in 220V power or if you kept a 115V line does your space heater need to be kept on for long periods of time to compensate for heat loss and is this space expensive to heat. The power supply to the garage is often on the same circuit as the basement or kitchen power as power to the garage is seldom needed and thus unlikely to overload a circuit. Now that you are using this space constantly with lights, heat, electronic devices etc I am wondering if you had to connect your power supply to a different circuit with more electrical capacity.

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