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You can convert your garage to an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). You can either keep it the existing size or expand it beyond the garage’s footprint. 

Garage conversions can take any form you want. It can be from luxurious to funky. They can give you:-

  • a place to house family members,
  • a source of rental income,
  • a home office,
  • extra living space for the family.

Most ADUs will serve all these purposes over the years. 

Garage Conversion Ideas as ADUs
Garage Conversion Ideas as ADUs (Source loveproperty)

You have lots of choices to make when you’re converting a garage into a brand-new living space. Let’s go through some interesting choices.

Create a home for long-term tenants

A garage, which is basically a blank box can be painted and dressed the way you want. When we consider long-term renters, they want stability.  This converted garage, with deep moldings around doors and baseboards and shaker cabinets, will make your tenants feel as solid and cozy.

Create a home for long-term tenants
Create a home for long-term tenants (Source maxablespace)

What does architectural lighting imply? Click here to read:

Maximize the garage door

If you like an open vibe, you can replace the garage door with an industrial glass-paneled version.  The visual space can be extended to the patio outside. It’s a nod to the unit’s humble beginnings. Furthermore, it is a great source of light. When you open the door, you are going to experience true indoor/outdoor living.

Maximize the garage door
Maximize the garage door (Source maxablespace)


 Consider Light and Privacy

Whoever stays in the ADU will want lots of natural light and privacy. You’ll want privacy in your main house too. This unit tackles the eternal privacy and light challenge in four ways:

  • with clerestory windows,
  • a French door on a secluded side of the ADU,
  • small sliders over the kitchen counter,
  • three narrow fixed windows on the wall facing the yard.
Light and Privacy in an ADUs
Light and Privacy in an ADUs (Source maxablespace)

Spice it up for short-term tenants

Blackboard paint is fun for guests. It is also and a magnet for kids. Paint it on a door or a section of the wall. Then you can add colored chalk and you’ve got a built-in attraction that’ll grab attention on home-share sites.

short-term tenants for an ADU
short-term tenants for an ADU (Source maxablespace)

Turn the driveway into a patio 

Most of the times, garages are situated at the end of a long driveway. Turn this prime real estate into a charming front courtyard, which will add beauty to your ADU. It will make it more attractive too. This one is tiled. But, you can get a similar effect by stenciling the concrete.

Driveway into a patio
Driveway into a patio (Source sunset)

When you can’t use windows, use doors

Even if they sit right on the property line, California’s 2020 ADU regulations allow garage conversions to maintain their original footprint. But you have to be careful since you are not allowed to place windows on any wall with less than a four-foot setback from that property line. Eventually, this rule leaves some garage conversions strapped for natural light. If you can use glass sliders or French doors, they will let you maximize your usable walls.

Alternatives for windows and doors
Alternatives for windows and doors (Source homedit)

Use a sliding screen to create separation

A standard 400 square-foot garage can be converted to a studio apartment. Hanging screens create separation as well as visual interest. Close them. Now you’ve got more privacy and reduced glare from the TV. Design elements like this will always help the tenants imagine how they’ll live comfortably in the ADU.

Sliding screen for separation
Sliding screen for separation (Source realhomes)

A small bathroom with a glass-paneled door 

Your garage conversion bathroom may not be large. At the same time, it might not have a window. A door with frosted glass panes brings in light. Furthermore, it makes a small room feel more spacious.

A small bathroom for an ADU
A small bathroom with a glass-paneled door for an ADU (Source onekindesign)

Make room for a deck

When building in the garage, a slim deck adds tons of character and gives the structure visual depth. It avoids the look of a big flat box. It also boosts the value of the garage conversion by offering what everyone wants. That means the perfect shady spot for morning coffee.

room for a deck for an ADU
Room for a deck for an ADU (Source maxablespace)

Extend a deck over the driveway 

Driveways are often sloped and with a deck that extends the living area without the need to change an inch of the driveway itself, this can be avoided.  You can go with a low railing or a higher fence.

Extend a deck over the driveway For an ADU
Extend a deck over the driveway For an ADU (Source maxablespace)

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