March 01, 2019 4 min read

There's been a huge shift in the way we see home garages, both literally and figuratively.

While they were once the depository for tools, cars, bikes, lawnmowers, old boxes and everything that couldn't fit inside the house, now they are a part of the home people don't mind showing off.

From the wonderfully organised tool kit, to the personal gym and the classic car collection – the modern garage can be pretty polished. It's even likely to have a carpet on the floor, albeit a special, long-lasting synthetic one that repels moisture. And let's face it, modern cars don't leak oil.

Some homeowners are even putting in glass walls so they can enjoy a view of the garage from other rooms.

Dougal Swift, for example, created a new basement garage, games room, bar and wine cellar when he and his wife renovated their traditional Grey Lynn villa. Both the games room-bar and wine cellar are behind large glass sliding doors, providing a view of the cars, which makes the whole area feel more spacious and, dare we say it, masculine.

Another Auckland family put a large glass wall between their garage and the entry to their central city home. Virgil Roberts is a car enthusiast and says his car collection gives him so much pleasure, it was worth it. He even added stairs down to a "mechanics pit", which is actually a wine cellar.

The Roberts' garage, which has a terrazzo floor, also doubles as a personal art gallery.

But for most of us, a modern garage is more about being tidy, uncluttered and organised. Even if the laundry is in the garage, it is likely to incorporate a benchtop and cabinetry, so items can be hidden away.

Participants in The Block NZ television series show just how much a modern garage has changed. Invariably, The Block garages incorporate laundries. Last year's winners, Andy and Nate, managed to fit in a gym, while others have added a wine cabinet. Increasingly, electric car chargers are also built into The Block garages.

One Millwater couple of our acquaintance has sacrificed a car space to put a gym into the garage in their new terrace house. A large-screen television on the wall helps to lessen the boredom  of the exercise.

So clearly, a garage can fulfil more than one function, and a large part of the move towards carpeted garages has been the need to maximise space in our houses. And that probably explains why a great number of terrace houses in one new development in Takanini feature double garages that appear to be used for everything but cars.

Walk past the houses on a weekend and it's easy to glimpse the pool tables and sofas that have turned the garage into a second living area for many homeowners.


John Davison, from Affordable Garage Carpet says the garage is now likely to be an extension of the home, not a room where you keep the door closed. 

"Carpet in the garage becoming a must-have, rather than a luxury item," Craig says. "The older generation took a little longer to come around to the idea, but that's changed now as they have seen it laid in friends' houses. Carpet not only makes the garage more useable, it also hides the paint splatter that tradespeople leave behind when a house is finished.

"And because the garage looks and feels like a room of the house, the kids are happy to hang out there. You don't need to worry about kids with allergies or asthma because the carpet stops all the usual dust that accumulates in the garage, and it can be vacuumed."

Davison also says the elderly appreciate the non-slip benefits of a garage carpet. "So many people have their laundry in the garage today, and there's nothing better than being able to walk in your socks into a clean, dry and warm laundry area."


You can expect to pay around $1000 to carpet a double garage, and about $500 for a single garage.

And when it comes to keeping it all tidy, professional organiser Natalie Jane from Be Organised has a few ideas.

Jane says, traditionally, the garage has been "the place where things come to die", so she recommends starting with a few rubbish sacks to get rid of unwanted items. And then the plan is to get things off the floor and onto shelves on the walls, even bicycles. Clear, stackable plastic boxes with labels are invaluable for storage.

Jane also recommends you treat the garage like a Bunnings store. "Create zones for your items. The more you define the zones, the easier it is to know where to go to find something." 

For keen handymen (or women) who want a workbench in the garage but lack space, Jane suggests designing one that's attached to the wall and can be folded back up after it has been used.

And just maybe, one day, it will be so tidy that you, too, will choose to add a glass wall to your garage.

 Written by: Colleen Hawkes (Stuff Columnist)