Remodeling Adds New Character to Garage

Article excerpt

Byline: Audrey Ross, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

When Marty Riskam remodeled his Potomac home last fall, he picked the one room in the house he thought needed the most work: the three-car garage. The $10,000 tuneup included stainless-steel cabinets, matching refrigerator, checkerboard floors, insulation and a bright paint job.

"It's taken an eyesore and transformed it into another room," Mr. Riskam says. "I have a friend of mine who says it looks nicer than his living room."

He says he used to complain about the oily floor, patchy walls and clutter that filled his garage, making it almost impossible to get out of the car. When he saw a display by Potomac Garage Solutions at a Chantilly home show, he was sold and ordered the complete makeover. His garage has become one of the favorite rooms in his house.

"It makes it part of the house instead of a junk heap," Mr. Riskam says. "It's really added to the value of the house. It's neat, and it's organized."

The garage has long served as a dumping ground for castoff furniture, family collectibles, hardware, bikes and lawn equipment, often stacked along the walls. Many families have so much clutter in the garage that they can't even park the car there anymore.

However, the most overlooked room in the house can be transformed with a simple makeover that could add thousands to the home's resale value.

Remodeling companies specializing in garage tuneups are part of a growing niche in the home improvement industry. Darkened cinder-block rooms get reworked into workable storage rooms.

Homeowners can choose from dozens of floor styles, cabinets and storage racks designed to straighten what's often the untidiest place in the house, getting the clutter off the floor and out of the way.

Metal storage bins strapped to the ceilings open up floor space and get ice chests, sports equipment and lawn chairs out of the way. Bikes are given special hooks to open up even more space, and some firms even offer wet bars, plasma televisions and ice makers with upscale remodeling packages.

"People are taking a lot of pride in their home remodeling in all sorts of space, kitchens, bathrooms, home theaters," says Peter Belman, president of GarageTek of Greater Washington (www.garagetek.com). "The garage is really the new frontier."

Garages are standard in most homes today. Nine out of 10 homes built in 2003 have a garage, with 83 percent of homes built with two or more bays, according to a Market- Research.com report on the industry. The shed- and garage-storage market is forecast to reach $1.59 billion by 2009, according to the study.

"This is very much like the installed closet system was maybe twenty-five years ago," Mr. Belman says. "It's become very, very popular. I think it's going to be required," becoming standard rather than an option in new homes.

Garage remodeling companies offer renovation packages ranging from simple paint jobs to whole room transformations.

Packages start at about $1,500 for a small amount of shelving. A full room restoration averages about $5,000, depending on the size of the garage. Beer coolers, refrigerators, surround-sound systems and flat-screen televisions also can be included in luxury packages that can reach $100,000, according to area retailers.

"A neat garage is a strong selling point because most homes don't have that," Mr. Belman says. "We allow you to reclaim that room and turn it into a usable working space."

GarageTek's system uses plastic material to run tracks along the walls with matching cabinets that can be moved along the grooves anywhere in the garage. …