Is your garage like ours? Ours is collecting more and more junk that we don’t use. We can’t use it to park our cars and haven’t been able to for the past 4 years. The good news is we don’t miss it. So, we decided to make our garage in to a playroom to accommodate the overflow of toys in our home. It was the best decision we ever made.
First Things First – Clean It Out!
So, you feel like this is the ultimate task and it’s never ending? I agree. I felt the same way. There were year’s worth of junk, trash and storage in our garage and I had no clue how to sort through it all.
First, have a garage sale! Make a list of everything that is sellable in your garage. That includes toys, clothing, and furniture, home decorating items, dishes, appliances and anything else you can think of. People will buy just about anything at a garage sale. You know how the old saying goes! One person’s trash… We made about $400 in 6 hours on a Saturday morning/afternoon. It was unbelievable what people bought. This gave us a great head start on the budget for the playroom, too.
Second, buy large garbage bags and bag up trash and other unwanted, unusable items from your garage. Take the rest to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Items that you are unable to haul off yourself can be hauled away by companies who do garage and basement clean outs. Usually, these companies will come out and give you a free estimate. If you agree with their estimate, more times than not they can take away your trash the same day. We had a truck load of old, beaten up furniture and other unusable items taken away for only $150. Prices will vary in your area, but normally there is no obligation to get them out there for an estimate.
Decide Whether You Want to Finish the Garage or If a Temporary Fix Will Do
This is the difference between hiring a contractor and doing it yourself. Well, if you’re handy, you might be able to finish a garage by yourself, but I know I can’t do it! We opted to keep our garage door and make a temporary wall out of plywood, insulation and calking. Part of our decision was based on the fact that we don’t plan to stay here forever and houses in our neighborhood sell better with a garage.
When building a temporary wall, go to your local home improvement store and pick out the best insulation and plywood for your budget and situation. The plywood as well as the insulation should tell you whether it’s good for keeping out moisture and keeping in a comfortable temperature.
Pick a Theme for the Playroom
A theme is important to your kids. If you have two children – especially a boy and a girl – this could be challenging. The challenge is finding something that both children will enjoy without alienating one of the other. My kids love the movie “Cars”, but I didn’t want to go with a movie “Cars” theme. I wanted a more timeless theme that could last for years. This is a 500 square foot area we are talking about and I don’t want to be painting it again in 2 years!
We decided to go with an all automobiles theme. That means cars, planes, trains, boats, etc. Any kind of vehicle that takes you from Point A to Point B, we used it. This left room for lots of decorating ideas and it was really easy to find décor for this theme as well.
If your child loves Buzz Lightyear, go with a Space Theme with a few pictures of Buzz here and there? If your child loves Nemo, go with an Under the Sea Theme? Both of these themes are great for a boy or a girl. Disney Princess won’t work under any circumstance for a boy, but Disney works. An all-encompassing Disney Theme for your boy and girl playroom will make both of your kids happy by putting decorations for both kids in the room.
For example, lots of the décor I bought for the playroom was geared towards my son because an automobiles theme is mostly going to be about boys. But, I was able to find several things that are for my daughter in there. I found a pink Cadillac and some flower wall boxes to act as faux windows. Little touches make all the difference.
The trick is to find something timeless or at least something that your kids will love for years. If your child is set on using something that’s probably not so timeless like “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Ratatouille” make sure you don’t add permanent fixtures in the room to accommodate the theme.
Paint colors are also important when decorating. When picking out colors for an outer room, you might want to select something bright and light instead of dark and dim. Darker colors will make the room look smaller and might attract heat as well.
Buy Some Selective Pieces for Your Walls
It’s going to take you a while to get the garage cleaned, organized, painted and ready! That means you have plenty of time to pick out all the décor for your little one’s new room. Start buying the pieces way in advance. This ensures that you will be able to find lots of great deals on things like shelves, picture frames, wall art and other decorations.
Craigslist.org and Ebay.com are two great places to find really good deals on things like this. Also, your local Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, Target, K-mart, and others should have items like this. Specialty stores like Pier 1 might be out of your budget, but don’t write them off too fast. There are great deals to be had at stores like this. I found a $29 s
shadow box for only $2.90 at Pier 1. 90% off is my kind of shopping!
The great thing is that even if you can’t afford to do some of the extra things right now, the room is still useable until you get your tax refund or your bonus at work. For instance, you might be able to afford the $35 to get the cable man out there to install another cable outlet, but you might not be able to afford what it’s going to cost to have someone add a new electrical socket. You might not be able to afford to have that extra air vent put in there so your central heating and air will accommodate the garage. You can get around these things. Only use the outlets provided in your garage for now. You don’t want to overload the garage with electricity and make it impossible to run the rest of your household electricity or worse.
As for heating and air, use a properly ventilated floor air conditioner or if there is a window in the garage, buy a cheap window unit. Use a floor heater that blows out hot air. These are usually harmless and don’t normally cause fires or heat hot enough to burn your youngsters.
This is probably not a weekend job unless you are just that efficient. It’s going to take a while, but be patient and take some of these tips to make your experience a little easier. Overall, our budget was about $500 and that’s what we ended up spending. We used carpet remnants that someone gave us and we also purchased some tile that was on clearance. The paint total was about $150 for paint and supplies. The wood and insulation was about $150 as well. This is a huge project on a very small budget and it can be done!