Naperville Living: Garage gets makeover with kids in mind
By Angela Bender email@example.com September 8, 2012 11:08PM
Haley and Hannah Singer get their backpacks for school from their garage lockers. | Submitted by Mina Singer
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Updated: October 10, 2012 6:17AM
Many homeowners think of their garage as a place to park their cars and store seasonal decorations, gardening supplies and tools. But others look to their garage as an extension of their home, and as such, want it to look that way.
Mina Singer is one such homeowner. After living in her River Run home with a “regular” garage for almost 15 years, Singer decided she wanted her three-car garage to feel like the rest of her home. When she first moved in, she was childless, but five kids later, all their equipment and the clutter took over.
“Being a big family, you run out of space. Five kids later, 10 sports later, you’re accumulating all this stuff and where do you keep it all,” Singer said. “For sanity reasons … you have to have order.”
Singer knew that, along with a new floor, she wanted a place for each of the children to store their belongings, including golf bags, tennis rackets, roller blades, baseball bats, backpacks and boots. She enlisted the help of Chicago-based Encore Garage, which specializes in custom garages.
“Every family is a little different,” said Tony Scaletta, owner and founder of Encore Garage. “We work with all the customers to make sure we do a design based on their needs.”
Scaletta explains that some homeowners do not want to see a rake or shovel on their walls, so they will use more cabinets. Others want countertops that will serve as workbenches, or if they are not handy, they can use the countertop as a place to put down items when coming in and out of the garage. Some want to add plumbing, electrical or lighting.
“You start with an understanding of what they are trying to achieve,” Scaletta said. “We never say no. We will figure out a way to make it work.”
What worked for the Singers is an 8-foot high double-door locker for each of their children. But to keep the garage looking like an extension of her home, Singer wanted the lockers to be a more traditional cherry wood grain in the same color as her cabinetry inside the home.
Scaletta stresses that aesthetics are just as important as gaining storage.
“We never want to give up on the look and feel of the garage,” Scaletta said.
When the Singer kids come home from school or their activities, they put their equipment immediately in the locker. But, not only that, they also put on their cleats on the way out, with 13-year-old Haley actually sitting in the locker, using it as a bench.
From there, Singer added to the organization by using shelving units, a slat wall for all their accessories, and bins for balls, strollers and skateboards. Because the Singers have a high ceiling in the garage, they were able to install ceiling-mounted rack systems, where they store seasonal items, such as sleds, skis and a luggage carrier, that do not need to be handy on a regular basis.
“Any garage where you have high ceilings you definitely want to take advantage of that, otherwise it’s completely wasted space,” Scaletta said.
In addition, a drop bike rack takes bikes off the floor.
“Bikes are always an issue,” Scaletta said. “Most young families have a lot of bikes. We’re always trying to figure out where to put the bikes, and there’s really only two spots — ceiling or walls.”
But, Scaletta explains that, when hanging bikes on the wall, homeowners give up a lot of “real estate” that can be used for cabinetry or a slat wall for hanging storage.
Scaletta says that garage makeovers can range from $2,000, or for the very same garage, $20,000 depending on the level of what the customer wants. Custom finishes, exotic metal laminates or stainless steel can all add to the cost.
“It is hard to justify spending money on a garage that nobody hangs out in,” Singer said. “But it was worth it to me because everything is organized, neat and clean.”
Columnist Angela Bender lives in Naperville. Contact her at email@example.com.