Bring on the champagne, red roses, and romantic music. I’ve officially fallen in love. With the barn garage.
The goal of the Fall in Love Challenge was to FINISH a project that was hanging over our heads. And I teamed up with some amazing bloggers who knocked this challenge out of the park.
But my space was a little different – I needed a functional garage and workshop for our family. And it was less about design than about function. (Although I think we accomplished both in the end.)
Before I agreed to take this project on, I talked to Ryan about the garage and asked if it were feasible to commit to “finishing” it in 6 weeks. He said yes. Then, we sold our house. Moved everything we owned into storage or into the barn. Set up our lives to live in 320-square-feet. And about 500 other crazy things that caused me great anxiety.
But you know what? Ryan truly dominated this space despite all the crazy. He (along with help from my brother and dad), helped bring this space from totally overwhelming, unusable space, to a multifunction area that everyone in our family can use.
And while there are still some details on the horizon, we have come a LONG way baby. And this space is truly useable and totally lovable now. I. Love. This. Space.
If you remember, I had big dreams for what this space needed to achieve.
Mudroom – Storage – Laundry – Workspace – Parking – Entertaining
We were able to achieve everything. (With the exception of laundry because the buyers are keeping our washer and dryer.)
Starting with the walls, ceilings and stairs
One of our very first projects was the walls and ceilings. Ryan, Kyle and my dad worked on getting all the upcycled corrugated metal on the walls. Then they drywalled the ceiling and stairwell. These were giant projects but made such an impact and made the space feel finished.
The stairway also got a major upgrade with railings. This means that I don’t freak out nearly as much when I’m using the stairs with Henry because there are railings. These stairs are REALLY steep and narrow, so the more safety precautions we have, the better. (We do plan to carpet them and do some painting as well, but that hasn’t happened yet.)
Here’s a peek at how the stairs looked before.
Finding a home for everything
The very best part of this space is that everything in the garage now has a home. That’s what we desperately needed. We have NEVER had a garage space that has actually had organization and storage built in. We built a few shelves and just started piling. We never focused on organizing and it showed.
And because we have so many things – from tools to reno supplies and craft items and paint – we needed storage solutions big time.
This was especially important to me because I knew that when we start building next spring, things are going to get chaotic. So if we don’t develop a system now, we never will.
So I spent so many hours going through everything we owned in the garage and barn. Every tool. Every plumbing part. Every light switch cover. I literally touched everything. And then I invested in bins and buckets to store everything (which was one of our own real expenses in this project).
The organizing was OVERWHELMING. And I just had to take it one day at a time. One bin at a time. One item at a time. It truly took hours and days. But it was more than worth it.
For example, we now have four bins of electrical supplies. So when Ryan needs an outlet cover, he can go to OUR electrical department before going to Menards. Inside the larger bins, I used smaller shoebox size bins to organize further. I was crazy about it but I hope it means it’s something we can actually use.
I used my Silhouette to label the larger bins with vinyl. Then I tried organizing everything into areas.
Building some killer pieces
They hold SO. MUCH. STUFF. In these two, we are able to store all of my paint and paint supplies, all of Henry and my craft supplies (sewing and Silhouette), and some other supplies (like cleaning supplies and light bulbs).
And that top workspace is just perfect for crafting or sewing, which means I have a designated craft space now. (Hurray!)
We mounted an old curtain rod on the wall that had a broken finial. This is the perfect way for me to store rolls of duct tape, garage bags, Kraft paper, and paper towels. This means easy access. (The “Ocean” sign is an old street sign from San Francisco we purchased on our honeymoon.)
As a reminder, here’s what the space looked like before.
For Ryan’s tools, we move to the other wall. We moved one of the long workspaces in for storage and added wall storage, too. Stray bits on magnetic strips, saw blades from nails. Plus I hung the clock that was in Ryan’s grandpa’s garage workshop.
Ryan’s tool bench pretty chaotic, but everything has a home, so we are golden! All of his corded tools are on the middle shelf for easy access.
We also had a lot of other stuff to contend with. His tool box. Other large tools – the table saw, air compressor, generator, welding table, record player (total necessity in Ryan’s land). We just measured them all and gave them each a space along the wall.
It’s a vast improvement from where we started. We couldn’t even find a hammer in this mess. And there are 12 of them. (I know. Because I counted them while I was organizing.)
Finding a place for all the lumber and building materials
There was another elephant in the room – lumber and building materials were all over the place. We had a stack of 2x4s 7 feet high (literally). We had a pile of barn wood and drywall and plywood and corrugated metal. It wasn’t safe for Henry because he wanted to climb all over.
First we purged – sold some things, returned some things, and used a TON of things in the process of upgrading this space.
Then we worked on storage for what was left. It would also hold everything else that didn’t have a home. Ryan and I measured and measured and figured out just what we needed. And then Ryan and Kyle built this last weekend.
It holds the last of the bins, along with all the automotive “stuff” and all the building materials up top. Henry’s toys (and a few other tools) slide underneath. This is perfection. Every single inch is accounted for. Which means, NO MORE TOOLS OR TOYS OR CRAFT SUPPLIES OR LADDERS. Or really, no more anything. 😉
Carving out mudroom space
Finally, we had to create a pseudo mudroom for the space, since there was no way all the shoes and bags and hats and scarves and boots would fit in the apartment.
We carved out a tiny space under the stairs for this purpose. It’s tight, but it works out just fine. The IKEA shoe cabinet is the perfect fit there. And a rod hangs all our coats as well as a series of hanging spots for winter gear and scarves.
It’s no Pinterest mudroom (sigh, someday). But for now, we have a place to hang coats and store shoes and keep keys. The small ottoman provides seating to put on shoes and doubles as file storage.
Adding some other fun and practical details
There were other details that we added, too, that deserve a little mention.
Ryan’s metal signs were all hung for fun decorative touches. Since the wall is magnetic, I also added more magnets to hang Henry’s artwork or lists.
A Behr paint can was hung for some easy wall storage. (And the black plastic is perfect for chalk markers.)
This wall storage for nails and screws is perfect – it’s just deep enough to store the boxes so nothing gets buried. Our womp-womp moment is that we actually still have a whole bin of screws and nails that need a home so Ryan will build a second series of shelves for them above his workspace.
Chalkboard labels on the smaller bins mean we can easily swap things around.
My three-tiered stand avoided being stored away by creating some storage on the workspaces. There isn’t really anything in them yet, but I thought I’d add things as I use them regularly. (There are some supplies that will be nice to have at arm’s reach.) The bonus is that since I like to use this for entertaining, it’s always accessible. (P.S. The hand sanitizer is sitting on the two pallet coasters that Henry and I made last weekend at the kids workshop at Home Depot. So stinkin’ cute.)
I’m still a huge fan of our yard tool storage. It’s wonderful to have a place to store everything.
I know that was a HUGE post with tons of details, but I wanted to get it all in one place. In the end, this was not a quick or simple project. But the work has already been worth it.
- We can actually find the things we need.
- We know where to put things away after we’ve used them.
- The space can actually be usable – for working, crafting, playing and more.
Before, the garage was another source of major anxiety for me. Now, it’s such a relief. We’ve already spent so much time here since moving into the barn. And I know it will be a life saver over the winter. I’m just thrilled to fall in love again.
I’d love to hear what you think about our transformation!
Thanks to Behr Paint for providing the paint for this project. And thanks to you for supporting sponsors who make projects like this possible.