How to Convert Unused Rooms into Living Spaces


Converting a Garage to Living Space: An Overview

Many Los Angeles homeowners dream of a house with more floor space, but some don’t need a new address, or even a new addition to their home, to get it. The space has been there all along. It’s just been disguised as a garage! If you would like to renovate your home for some extra breathing room, and your garage is up for grabs, let’s look at what the process could involve.

Garage Door: Leave It or Let it Stay?

Visually, leaving the garage door in place is like letting an elephant stand in the corner. It won’t take a whiff of motor oil to remind you that the space was once a domain for cars and lawn equipment. Replacing the door with a wall can also make the space more energy efficient.

A-List Builders can remove your garage door and handle the entire renovation, keeping everything on schedule. We need you to do just one thing before we convert your garage to living space: find an alternate location for objects that may be stored in the space. With spring around the corner, now is a good time to put the task at the top of your spring cleaning list.       

Built-in Benches: Remove or Reuse?

In addition to the garage door, a permanently installed tool bench is one of the most common things we remove when we renovate a garage to living space. However, if your garage has a bench that is a simple tabletop workspace, you may be able to repurpose it for a wet bar, an area where shelves and pedestals showcase plants, or an area for a computer station that is great for gaming or working from home. It’s something to consider before plans are finalized.

Infrastructure for Residential Utilities

Let’s take a look at what will make the renovated space livable on the most basic level: utilities. Whether the renovation will be a single car garage conversion to a studio apartment, a garage to loft conversion for a bedroom, or something else, utilities will define the comfort of the space.    

Heating and Cooling Considerations

A renovation such as a single car garage conversion to a studio apartment, or a garage to loft conversion, will redefine the look of the space, but it won’t necessarily change the temperature. If the garage adjoins the home, extending the home’s air duct system to the garage may be the easiest way to provide temperature control. Here are three other options:     

  • Double AC Unit – You can install a permanent AC unit that both heats and cools. The unit will sit in a wall and provide cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter.
  • Air Handler Unit – You can also use an air handler similar to the one in your home. As with the system in your home, it requires installing heating and cooling equipment.  
  • Heat Pump Unit – Despite its name that suggests otherwise, a heat pump can provide both warm air and cool air, and it is just as effective as traditional HVAC equipment.        
Electrical Outlets and Ceiling Lights

Close your eyes, and try to envision how you’ll arrange plugin electronics in the finished space. Where should electrical outlets ideally go? Consider lamps, entertainment hardware, electronics that are native to unique areas (such as a wet bar), computer hardware, etc.

Replacing garage lighting is likely to be on the renovation to-do list, too. If your garage has bright, fluorescent lighting, the radiant intensity of the tubes will likely seem to be brighter within a softer, renovated living space, and may rob the ambience of subtle shadowplay.

A Restroom and a Kitchen, or Not

Putting a restroom in a renovated garage space is often a good logistical move, and cohabitation can make the availability of another restroom a plus, too. Whether to include a kitchen when converting a garage to living space is often more of a question mark.

If you aren’t sure about including a kitchen in your new space, consider how close a new kitchen would be to the kitchen already in your home. If they would be in close proximity, would the new kitchen receive regular use, or would it likely receive almost none at all?  

When determining whether to include a bathroom and/or a kitchen, consider how much square footage they would consume. If the renovation space is relatively small, consider whether either one would eat up space that you would ultimately rather use in other ways.

Bathroom remodeling & design in Encino, Los Angeles, California by A-List Builders Descriptive file Name: A-List-Builders-Bathroom-Remodeling-Contractors-Los-Angeles-Encino


Finished Walls, Ceilings, and Floors

If you have a well-appointed garage, new window treatments and wall paint may be all that are required to make the walls look great. If not, consider what type of construction should comprise interior walls that form the perimeter of the open space. Here are three options:  

  • Drywall – Cost-effective, quick to install, and easy to paint, the overall versatility of drywall makes it the most popular interior wall surface in homes across the nation.     
  • Wood Panels – Looks range from classic to modern and come in various finishes, with a wide array of millwork and inlay available. Nothing else has the look of natural wood.  
  • Plaster and Lathe – Wood slats are nailed in place, and then covered with plaster. The malleable plaster can be applied in distinctive ways to create unique surface textures.
Options for Dividing an Open Space

If you plan to create two or more formal rooms instead of using an open floor plan, factor in closets, bathrooms, floor cabinets, etc. These elements consume square footage, so be sure that the rooms will be as large as you envision. Here are three non-permanent wall options:

  • Textile Panels – Styles range from the no-frills look of panels that form office cubicles to panels that feature the artistic treatment of various natural and synthetic materials.     
  • Draperies – Available in many materials that feature various accents and contouring effects, room-dividing drapes can be hung from the ceiling or from a support frame.  
  • Glass Panels – Glass panels can create a sleek, modern interior. Panels of “privacy glass” that change from transparent to opaque with the flip of a switch are available.
Ceiling Options

When you convert a garage to living space, it’s often necessary to install a new ceiling. As with the type of material you choose for the walls, the type of ceiling you install will largely depend on your aesthetic vision for the renovated space. Here are three ceiling options:

  • Drywall – Drywall is the most popular material for creating ceilings. It is cost-effective, easy to paint, and easy to replace, should you ever happen to require a new ceiling.  
  • Hanging Panels – Hanging panel systems contain lightweight panels made from fibrous materials. They are highly cost-effective and sit within a grid of metal frames.
  • Wood Boards – Available in many types of wood with different finishes, wood boards provide a unique look that may be perfect for the aesthetics of your new living space.    
Flooring Options

Like the ceiling and walls, the floor you install also depends on the aesthetic you wish to create in the renovated space. The difference is that the floor will receive far more wear than the ceiling and walls. In addition to the option of carpeting, here are three flooring options:

Concrete – Many garages have concrete floors, but the surface often has oil stains, cracks, and other imperfections. If you want a concrete floor, and the space already has one, we may be able to refinish and seal the floor instead of pouring a new one.

Wood – If your home has wood flooring, you may want to extend the aesthetic when you convert a garage to living space. If you choose a wood ceiling, a wood floor that has the same finish can help pull the space together to create a coherent aesthetic.  

Ceramic Tile – Available in many sizes and styles, ceramic tile is a diverse flooring option. If there is a downside, it is that the tiles and grout between them can crack. Creating a totally flat subfloor will help prevent this, but it can still occur from wear.

Tools for converting unused rooms into living spaces, painting supplies, and tape. Suggested descriptive file name: A-List-Builders-Tools-Home-Remodeling

Final Touch: Interior Design

When they convert a garage to living space, some homeowners have a clear vision of how the finished area should look, while others have a basic vision that needs refinement. If you need assistance with finalizing the elements of your space, the home remodeling specialists at A-List Builders can help. Once you approve the plan, we will handle the entire renovation process. Contact us to schedule a consultation for how to convert a garage to living space.

Our clients believe in us.

Here is what a few of them say.

  • Kobi R.

    It’s been years since I’ve done any work to my home so I was nervous about the whole project. Thankfully, I found a company that not only provided me with a patient ( I am very particular) and punctual contractor, Rani, but the job came out better than I expected. After doing such an amazing job on the kitchen, I expressed to Rani that I would like to do some more work with him but money, unfortunately, doesn’t grow on trees. Fortunately, Rani found an affordable way for me to redo all the bathrooms and flooring throughout the house.

  • Beverly S.

    Our initial meeting with Rani was excellent due to him giving us information and ideas we hadn’t thought of. He returned a week later with a presentation for our kitchen. Again, we were surprised at his additional ideals and his presentation. We had previously had two of the big-box stores come out so we had an idea of cost. Rani was more reasonable and offered us better and more creative ideas. Our kitchen is completed and we feel we qualify for Better Homes & Gardens. We would recommend our experience and job to everyone.

  • Warren M.

    After about a year and a half after we remodeled our bathroom, we had some minor electrical issues and reached out to A-List Builders. Ben followed up consistently and in a timely manner until my needed repair work was done.

  • Debbie W.

    Everyone was professional, nice and knowledgeable. I am so happy with their work and I will be using them again for my next project. In addition, I will be referring them (which I don't do unless I completely trust a job well done) to my family and friends. Thank you, again, for such a positive experience.

  • Deborah B.

    I hired A-List for a large restoration project. The project involved wall replacement with framing & drywall, stucco, exterior & interior painting, foundation reinforcement, a new exterior gate, fence repair, brick & tile walkways. Ben was the only contractor I interviewed who recommended that an engineer inspect the foundation as part of the evaluation process. Megan cheerfully worked through the process with my insurance company. All of the on-site workers were a pleasure to work with. They arrived early, were professional, & kept the work-site clean & organized...even the city inspector commented positively about A-List's knowledge & organization. A-List Builders did a great job & their follow-up was excellent.

  • Lou D.

    Like so many people in LA we bought a fixer upper. Over the last 5 years we have searched intently for a contractor we could trust. Never has a contractor come on our property that affected us the way Ben and Megan from A-List Builders have. They immediately understood our needs and made brilliant suggestions. They answered every question, every call, and it was such a difference dealing with them than any company we've ever hired before. They did not waste a minute of our time, nor did they try to get us to do more than we wanted. Their pricing is more than fair. They are so good at what they do and completely trustworthy and make hard things much easier. There actually IS a really good General Contractor out there and a company that does all that it promises and more.

  • Anonymous

    I used A-List Builders for my Bathroom Remodel and my bathroom is more beautiful now than I could have ever imagined...I met with Ben who gave me a free estimate for the job and knew right away that A-List Builders was the company I was going to use for the job. Their estimate was fair, and their communication throughout the entire process was fantastic. I always knew there was going to be someone else on the other line if I needed to get a hold of them for any reason. Their workers were true pros that did an immaculate job, excellent craftmanship and very good at keeping the renovation area very clean. I absolutely love my new bathroom and have already recommended them to two of my friends. Truly a great experience!

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