Garage conversion ideas - swap a junk area for extra living space

Discover how to turn a wasted space into a haven for the whole family to use

White house exterior with garage
(Image credit: Future PLC)

In the UK extra living space is something that many of us covet. It's one reason we've seen a rise in garage conversion ideas. As some turn to bikes as a means of transport, or no longer require more than one car, the garage can become redundant space, often filled with junk and stuff we no longer use.

Instead of letting it become a mess magnet, why not turn it into an extra room? From guest bedrooms and downstairs bathrooms, to games rooms or home bars, there are a multitude of options for how to convert a garage.

Much like basements or loft conversions, there are companies who specialise in garage conversions to guide you through the process. It's also likely to be a far quicker process than investing in extension ideas as the structure is already in place.

'We aim to convert a single garage into living space in 10 working days,' says Jonathan Henden, County Garage Conversions. 'A garage with ensuite bedroom is generally 15 days and an annex 20 days.'

Garage conversion ideas

Whether you need planning permission for your garage conversion will depend on where you live, so always check with your local planning department.

'Generally planning is required for garages in major housing developments,' says Jonathan Henden. 'We encourage home owners to consider a planning application, as if they wish to sell in the future, it's likely the conveyancers will require proof of whether planning was required or not.'

1. Turn a garage into a guest room

garage converted into a bedroom

(Image credit: Future / David Giles)

It's hard to believe this comfortable guest bedroom was once a double garage. With off-street parking and extended family overseas, the owners of this home felt a guest room was higher priority than a garage, so that their relatives could feel comfortable when they came to stay.

To create the layout, they marked out the areas on the floor with masking tape, so they could walk around the 'virtual room', to make sure the space worked before building work began. Their builder recommended demolishing the garage and rebuilding the structure to modern energy-efficient standards. 

'The main consideration is whether the garage is constructed from single skin brick or is a full cavity wall construction, as this really effect the usability of the space,' says Jude Tugman, co-founder, Architect-your-home

'If it is single skin then insulation and an inner wall can be added to generate the correct thermal requirements. Also the ceiling needs to be properly insulated.'

2. Include an ensuite or shower room

garage converted into a shower room

(Image credit: Future / David Giles)

If you're planning to convert your garage into a guest room, it's well worth considering ensuite bathroom ideas if you can squeeze one into the space.

This is likely to push the price up though, as you will need to factor plumbing costs into your budget.

Not only is this more comfortable and convenient for your guests, you have the benefit of an extra shower room the rest of the time, making mornings run more smoothly. To make best use of the space, the owners had a concertina-style shower door fitted, which folds right back rather than opening out.

3. Move your main bedroom

Blue bedroom in a former garage

(Image credit: Future)

This roomy bedroom was previously a double garage. If your main bedroom is on the poky side, or you'd like to move out to make way for growing kids, measure your garage to see if it would give you the extra space you require. With a decent sized bedroom and an ensuite on the ground floor, you can leave the upper level for the younger members of the household. 

'The majority of garage conversion requests we receive are for bedroom ideas,' says Jonathan Henden, County Garage Conversions. 'Home offices and knock throughs for larger living areas are popular too.'

4. Create a spacious kitchen-diner

kitchen diner in former garage

(Image credit: Future)

Still need a spot for the car? The owners of this home managed to create the extra space needed for a kitchen-diner from a large double garage, and still include a smaller garage to park the family motor.

'The main entrance to the garage was next to the front door,' says the owner. 'So we built a porch across the front of the house to create a new entrance, which would lead into the kitchen and added a wall at the end to create a smaller garage behind the kitchen.'

5. Carve out space for a study 

Home office with desk and lamp in garage conversion

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Spending less time commuting and more time working at home? If you haven't already created a home office, a small garage could provide the space for one.

As with most other rooms (except perhaps a home cinema or bar), you'll need to include a window, so check which way the garage faces and where it can be located without overlooking your neighbours. If privacy is a problem consider a roof light instead. 

Discuss insulation with your builder or designer when planning your heating and electricity. 

6. Convert it into a cinema room

home cinema with navy paint

(Image credit: Alamy / Andreas von Eidsel)

What better use for a dark space with no windows than a home cinema or cosy den, where you can go to watch the latest blockbuster?

Of course, you may want to add a small window but a disused garage could make a great space for movie nights. 

According to Simon Tcherniak, senior designer, at Neville Johnson, one recent survey showed over 70% of people now prefer to watch a new film release at home. 'With bespoke fitted furniture we can house any home cinema system, streamlining the cabinetry and adding apertures for high-tech speakers to be mounted or built-in,' says Simon.

7. Build a home bar

Wooden home bar with bar stools

(Image credit: Rated People)

Can't get a baby sitter? That's no problem when you have your own home bar. Bring the party to your house instead. Or just enjoy a nightcap in a sophisticated space once the kids are tucked up.

According to a survey by Rated People, a home bar was sixth in the list of improvements that home owners want to spend their budget on in 2022, ahead of home gyms which was no.7 on the list.

'So many aspects of our lives are now affected by rising prices, so if you’re doing work to your home this year - to ensure you get the best value, it’s now more important than ever to start planning and budgeting as early as possible so you can to negotiate a good price and avoid tradespeople being booked up for months in advance,' says Adrienne Minster, CEO of Rated People.

8. Knock through to add a games room

Ping pong table in a converted garage with desk

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

Fancy somewhere for teenagers to hang out with their mates or a space big enough to for the whole family to play games together? 

A garage conversion can make a great spot for a games room, with space for table tennis, a pool table, board games or just a noisy nintendo.

If you're a sporty bunch add storage for bikes, wetsuits, golf clubs or whatever other hobbies you're into. 

9. Make space for a utility or boot room

Cream utility room with washing machine and boots

(Image credit: Future / David Merewether)

Kitchen not big enough for all the white goods required, let alone the vacuum, ironing board, baskets, brooms and other cleaning equipment? Instead of extending into the garden, consider brainstorming some utility room ideas or a creating a boot room with the garage space. Garages tend to be long and narrow, so this can work well if yours sits beside your kitchen.

Turning a garage into a utility or boot room can make family life much easier, when you have a dedicated space for laundry or storing winter coats, wellies or pet paraphernalia.

10. Work out in your own home gym

Grey gym with yoga mat and rowing machine

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Why waste money on expensive monthly gym memberships when you can have your own workout or yoga space at home?

If you're disciplined enough to go every day, or even a couple of times a week, it could end up paying for itself in a few years, particularly if more than one in the household likes to pump iron, salute the sun or pound the pelaton. 

It's worth including a window to keep things fresh, and consider installing a shower room too, if you want to make it feel professional. Then fill it with your favourite gym equipment to stay fit all year round.

Do you need planning permission to turn a garage into a room?

This depends where you live and what you want to do, so always check with the planning department in your area. It's likely you will need proof either way, whether planning permission was required, or not, when you come to sell.

How much does a garage conversion cost?

'A single garage conversion to include a window to the front, electrics, heating, and a fully functioning room would start from £12,000 inc VAT,' says Johnathan Henden, County Garage Conversions.

'Make sure you secure a Scope of the works from the builder. This should be a detailed document showing the works that are included in the price and equally what is not included.'


Jacky Parker is a freelance interiors & lifestyle journalist, specialising in modern interiors, design and eco living. She has written for Future’s interior magazines and websites including Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home for over fifteen years, both as a freelance contributor and inhouse, with stints as Acting Digital Editor, Livingetc and Acting Style Content Editor, Country Homes & Interiors. Her work also features in national and international publications including Sunday Times Style, Telegraph Stella, The Guardian, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and more. With years of experience in the industry Jacky is privy to the insider view and the go-to places for interior inspiration and design-savvy décor.