Affordable ideas for your garage playroom

Converting a Garage to a Playroom

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How to Convert a Garage to a Playroom

Do any of the readers have any advice on converting a garage into a playroom? We are hoping to do the work ourselves, of course for as little as possible. We have two girls that are two and four. We live in Charleston, SC, so we have no basement, but we need to get the toys out of the bedrooms and have the girls sleep in one room. Any information is appreciated.
Paula H

Plan First!

Planning for future use now could really save time/money down the road. Plenty of outlets, as well as cabling for phone/audio- video/computer can be a godsend.

Something I wish had been done when the previous owner converted my garage to a room is include a wall of storage cabinets/closets (do you currently store more than just a car in your garage? Where's it all gonna go now?). A portion of my original garage was framed in to be a small storage room (accessed from outside, bummer), and a laundry room as well (this just happened to be located where the old hookups were in the garage - no plumbing change).

Add plenty of windows. Garages are notoriously dark, and nobody wants to play in a dark room. Be sure to insulate, insulate, insulate! Consider a pull-down ladder to access attic for storage if this is a separate space.

Get permits if required. At least where I am, if you go to sell and there aren't permits on file for renovations done since the last change of ownership, somebody's gonna pay! (usually you)

Consider uses and plan materials accordingly. For instance, are there certain materials for flooring/wall coverings that will make arts&crafts cleanups easier?

Our Experience

We converted our one car garage to a playroom and we also live in Charleston, SC. We did it ourselves except for the carpet installation. We care for our 3 grandchildren aged 6 months to 4 years and needed a place to contain them while at our home. We wanted to be able to convert it back to a garage at some point in the future. Here are the things we did to the garage.

  1. Insulated and paneled the walls with a white-ish colored paneling.
  2. Hooked a child's gate around the steps into the kitchen to keep the little ones from climbing the steps as we keep the kitchen door open.
  3. Installed ceiling fan, shop/fluorescent lighting.
  4. Installed one air duct for temperature control from main thermostat.
  5. Installed thickest carpet pad available and low pile industrial carpet of grayish color to not show dirt.
  6. Our washing machine and dryer are in the garage, so we installed a half wall to keep the children from getting to them.
  7. Purchased new air tight garage door and hung an insulated drapery with the rubber backing on a rod to make it look like a room. This drapery is opened each day to allow in sunlight through the windows.

This is all except for decorations. I think most people forget the air duct. It really is easier than you think.
Kelly H.

Related: DIY Backyard Play Area Tips

Painted Flooring

Someone asked about tips for turning a garage into a playroom. Our garage floor is hopelessly cracked, but we have a basement we recently converted and maybe the tips are interchangable.

For the past 2 years we didn't use the basement because water would come in when it rained. Last summer my husband built a makeshift french drain by digging a trench about 6" wide and 8"deep across the front of the house and out to the street. He made sure it sloped slightly to the street and lined the bottom with gravel. Then he placed a plastic pipe with holes throughout inside and covered with more gravel and dirt. Since then we have had no water in the basement!

Next we mopped the floor with bleach. At some point in time the floor was tile, but now it is just concrete with whatever that stuff is that you lay down tile with stuck all over it. We decided the cheapest, easiest and safest thing to do was to paint the floor (in case water ever comes in again).

We bought 1 gallon of deep red garage floor paint and 1 pint each of black, gray and pink garage floor paint. First we took the gray paint and painted a grid on the floor following the lines left by the old tile and let it dry overnight. Next we taped off a grid over these lines and painted red over that. We let this dry for several hours and then took a sponge and dabbled on the black and pink. After removing the tape we have what looks like large red tiles all over our floor! It is absolutely beautiful and everyone loves it!

The paint cost us about $60, it took less than 2 days and we have enough paint left to do it again if we need to. In 3 months of hard play it still looks great! We have used some throw rugs to make the floor a little "warmer." I would highly recommed this to anyone needing a garage/basement floor idea!
Patricia O.

Related: Painting a Basement Floor

We Did a Kitchen

To the family that would like to convert their garage to a playroom, it's really a great idea. My husband and I converted our garage into a big country kitchen. We took out the garage door, framed out the space and put in a big bay window (the biggest expense) but worth it. Then its just a matter of insulating the walls,choosing a floor, and some lighting, if you can do the work yourselves thats half the battle. Just think what it would cost to build out or up on your home, that always more costly because most communities would need blueprints (also expensive). Anyway hope these tips help. Go for it!
Anna B.

A Unique, Inexpensive Solution to Convert a Garage

For the reader looking to convert their garage to a playroom for their children, I will pass on some snippets that we've found worked for us. First of all, garages are notorious for their rough, unyielding surfaces and you don't want your kids banged and scraped, so we headed to the local floor covering place. He has all these tremendous flooring remnants left-over or now one year out of fashion. We were able to pick up some wonderful bargains (often if you have cash in hand, your deal will be better). Anyway, we toted these finds home and then used them to cover the walls from floor to ceiling. I know this might sound kooky, but my kids LOVE it!! It's soft, colorful, provides cushion and all you have to do is basically enjoy it. It is tricky to get up, but we learned a lot as we went. Use that really sticky flooring adhesive that you can get at any building supply store and an application tool and start at the ceiling. This is something like hanging wallpaper, except that carpeting really is wonderful for covering your errors. We hung it all first and then cut out the window openings, etc. Like I mentioned, we did get some raised eyebrows -- at first. Now, everyone who sees it can't believe how incredibly great it looks. If you're not sure you'll like it but want to give it a try, just do one wall. But be warned, that's how we started!

Don't Forget Storage

We converted our garage into a "game room". We wanted room to play but still had all the garage clutter to deal with. Peg board is the answer. We hung everything ourselves and it was not that expensive. The boards hold everthing leaving the floor for fun. We also put indoor/outdoor carpet in ourselves. That alone makes the garage feel like a "room". We split our cable wire and ran it to the garage and mounted a TV/VCR combo from the wall. The bikes are hanging from the ceiling on hooks. Now we have a functional garage and have lots of room for fun.

Reviewed January 2018

Take the Next Step

  • Is it practical to turn your garage into a family room?
  • Home improvements can be costly. For many projects, we can help you save. Just visit the Home Improvement section of the Dollar Stretcher Library before you start that next project.
  • Once those home improvements are done, why not take some time to improve your finances? The TDS ebook How to Conquer Your Debt No Matter How Much You Have can provide you with the tools you need to demolish your debt and rebuild your finances.
  • Home improvements are made easy with TaskRabbit. Book a tasker today.
  • It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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