Seriously. I see articles and posts about increasing the value of your house through inexpensive kitchen upgrades, bathroom make-overs and landscape tune-ups... but everyone ignores the garage.
We live in and for the garage!
So, here are a few ideas to spruce up the garage. They are relatively cheap, and will make the garage look much better.
If your garage doesn't have finished drywall on the walls and ceilings, do it. It doesn't cost that much. More importantly, it is the basis for almost everything else. You probably won't have a kicking garage if it isn't finished... and make sure that you insulate the walls and ceiling.
Can you imagine walking into a home improvement store with a $50 bill, and coming out with change... and making your garage look 327% better? Buy at least three fluorescent light fixtures (for a two bay or three bay garage). Ideally, you want one over each parking bay, and one of the workbench. You don't need to go wild here, but getting something in a nice diamond plate would add an extra cool touch.
- Epoxy the floor
Many home improvement stores now carry do-it-yourself kits to epoxy garage floors. The ones I have seen generally run less than $100/bay. So, for just a few hundred dollars, that ugly floor can get a completely new look. One thing to keep in mind is that prep is everything. Clean the floor in a big way, and let it dry. Also test the floor to make sure there isn't a moisture problem that could cause hydraulic pressure to lift the epoxy.
- Paint the walls and ceiling
Nothing can do more to improve the look quickly and cheaply than giving the walls and ceiling a fresh coat of paint. If you want to get wild, paint a graphic... but remember that the next owner might not like it so if you are getting ready to sell, you might want to go easy on the graphics.
- Cheap cabinetry
Keep a sharp eye out on Craigslist or other media for someone that is updating their kitchen... and get the old ones. One of my friends picked up 40 linear feet of cabinets (upper and lower) for free... A few sheets of 3/4" plywood, ripped in half and laminated back together (1 1/2" thick), and a backsplash of 2x4s and he had a VERY stout and cheap set of cabinets in the garage. They were completely repainted and looked pretty good.
If you keep out a good eye and do some work, it would be reasonable to expect that you could do all of these (except new drywall) for under $500. The best part is that it doesn't have to be done all at once.
Enjoy... and let's make those garages just a bit nicer.