Designing garages with living space above
A living space above the garage works best when it's proportionally correct
These days, even a modestly sized house is expected to have a two-car garage. That’s no surprise given our car culture. And with the sizable footprint of today’s garages and the relatively low cost of adding a second story, it’s tempting to add a room above the garage. However, designing a two-car garage with living space above is a balancing act of size and scale.
The challenge is to incorporate adequate space for vehicles and storage needs without overwhelming the scale of the house. The size of the vehicles and the storage or workspace desired might influence whether an attached or detached structure best fits the scale of the house.
If you drive a small or midsize sedan and need to store only a few utility items, like trash barrels and yard gear, the garage can be attached to the house without dwarfing it the way that a garage accommodating SUVs and a workspace would. Even a detached garage for larger vehicles and a workspace can benefit from a scale-reducing design.
The drawings show some strategies I use to mitigate the scale of attached and detached two-car garages and the minimum clearances recommended for a comfortable floor plan.
Adding living space above an attached garage can push up the roofline to compete with the house. Deliberate roof composition is one way of reducing the garage’s scale. Here, a dormer provides the necessary headroom and light to add living space rather than adding a full second story. Also, I’ve oriented the gable to the side to keep the front wall of the garage to one story. To reduce the scale further, the shed dormer is nested within the roof, and the face of the dormer wall is set back from the front garage wall.