The best uses for your garage, other than parking your car

A woman lifting weights in her garage

Nicola Dowse

Posted July 14, 2023

If you’re finding your garage has become nothing more than an oversized storage shed, you might want to consider these simple alternatives.

Garages are perhaps one of the most neglected and under-utilised spaces in the home.  

While they’re primarily used to park your vehicle (and store any items you don’t want within eyesight), garages have plenty of potential as creative and recreational spaces. 

But before you crack out the tools and start creating your dream garage there are a few restrictions (plus safety tips) to be aware of.  

What are the laws about how I can use my garage?

The National Construction Code (NCC) outlines the minimum standards for buildings in Australia.  

This code has different minimum requirements for all different types of buildings, including free-standing homes, shops, apartments, and garages. 

Under the NCC, houses are regarded as a class 1a building. Private garages, however, are class 10 buildings, and the building standards for each differ. 

This means that depending on how you want to convert your garage, you may need to conform to a number of building requirements, especially if you want to turn it into a habitable space. 

You will want to consult with your local council before undergoing any major renovations. 

What about rental properties, car ports, and car spaces?  

There are rules around how tenants can modify their rental properties in Victoria, but so long as you’re not contravening them or local by-laws or building codes, you can use your garage however you wish (just as you can with any other part of your rental property).  

If you live in an apartment that comes with a parking space but you don’t own a car, you may be able to lease your space out to neighbouring motorists via an online service app, similar to businesses like Airbnb. Depending on where you live, you may be required to pay a congestion levy if leasing your car space, however.  

Apartments or other residential building with a body corporate may have additional restrictions on how you can use your garage or parking space (even if you’re an owner occupier), so it’s a good idea to check your strata arrangement first.  


An open home garage with clothes drying and lots of storage in it

Does your junk end up in your garage? With a little planning you can easily repurpose the space. Photo: Matt Harvey.

Alternative ways to use your garage


Converting your garage into a home gym is perhaps one of the easiest and most logical alternative ways you can use the space. 

Garages make a great place to exercise as they're generally solid but Spartan structures – if you scuff the floor or knock the wall while working out it’s hardly the end of the world. The fact that you’ve also got a car-sized garage door for ventilation is the cherry on top. 

Creating a gym within your garage can be as simple as clearing a space and adding some dumbbells and a yoga mat.

If you’re more committed to the cause, you can turn your garage into workout space worthy of greatest athletes. Lay down some rubber floor tiles, install floor-to-ceiling mirrors, buy an exercise machine or two and maybe even put in a wall-mounted television. A speaker or sound system is probably the easiest and most important piece of equipment for any budding athletes in need of inspiration, just be mindful for the neighbours as garage walls can be thin.

Studio or workshop

Have you always wanted to pursue your creative passions but just not had enough space to do so? Just a few quick and easy updates and you could turn your garage into your very own home studio or workshop.  

The artistic process can be messy, which makes your garage a great option where you won’t have to worry about splashing paint or flying woodchips. Just make sure your garage is well ventilated. Depending on the chemicals some hobby painters or carpenters, for example, use can be dangerous. While having the garage door open is a good start, it may not create much of a draft, so consider an  extractor fan if need be. 

Mud room

It’s great to experience the great outdoors, so long as you don’t bring the great outdoors inside when you’re done. Mud rooms are particularly common in the United States as a space to remove one’s dirty, dusty, damp or muddy clothes and shoes before entering your home, as to reduce mess. 

Turning your garage into a mud room is particularly handy if the space has an internal connection to the rest of your house, as it allows you to immediately enter your home once all your muddy accoutrements have been dealt with. 

Adapting your garage into a mud room is easily achieved by installing a sink or wet space (to hose off shoes), a bench to remove clothes on, shelving for storage, drying racks and plenty of clothes hooks.

Games room

If you’re in need of temporary escapism with a PlayStation, have kids with too much energy to burn quietly, or want to enjoy civilised game of chess with your partner, a games room might be just the thing. 

Whether you’re looking for something high-tech with computers, screens, and consoles, or something kid-friendly, a garage is the ultimate blank canvas to create the room you want. The benefit of converting a garage is that it’s removed from the house – a retreat from what should be peace in the home.


A woman working at a workbench inside a garage

Garages make for great workshops, no matter what your creative pursuit is. Photo: Getty.

Stay safe 

Watch out for creepy crawlies 

If it’s been a while since you’ve given your garage a clean out, take extra care when updating the space. As a structure that bridges indoors and outdoors, insects and animals can sometimes make themselves at home in your garage.  

Wear protective clothing when clearing out your garage, including closed-toe shoes and gloves, and take particular care in spaces that attract critters – think piles of wood, shoes, in cracks and beneath objects. Keeping you garage clean and tidy will help prevent dangerous pests – here are more tips on how to tidy and organise your garage.  

Consider your security 

Garages are prime targets for burglars, who often see the structures as a weak link in your home security. Burglars know that garages often contain profitable items such as cars and power tools, and that they can ransack the small, often disconnected, building in eight minutes of less.  

Thankfully, you can increase the security of your garage, no matter how you choose to use it, by taking steps like installing sensor lights and cameras, keeping valuables out of direct sight, securing entry points, and keeping the garage door down unless in use.  

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