Finishing the Bonus Room Above Our Garage

When we moved in back in May of 2015, we were rushed, out of budgeted building funds, and so anxious to move in, we didn’t finish the room/space above our garage. We were in hopes to save some money and do it  later down the road. This space is pretty big with around 1200 square feet.  We currently use it for storage, but are planning on finishing it within the near future. We don’t really need the extra space, but it will add value to our home.

After figuring exactly what we needed: some wiring/electrical work, sheetrock, flooring, a couple doors, trim, lighting, and about 4 feet of metal railing, we will be budging around $15,750 for this project. Keep in mind we will be putting down our own hardwood, putting up trim, and painting ourselves, so no labor on that part. These numbers  do not include adding a small kitchenette or bathroom as you will read in option number one. This breakdown is including materials and labor only on everything else.

  • Electrical-$1,200
  • Sheetrock-$5,750
  • Flooring-$5,500
  • Doors-$800
  • Trim-$500.00
  • Lighting-$1,000
  • Railing-$1,000

Now, lets talk about value and why we would even think about finishing this extra 1500 square feet. In our area, can be higher or lower depending on where you live, the appraisal value of a home is anywhere between $120-$160 per square foot. This all depends on the quality of the home and location. We own a new home with very modern amenities that is in a prime location, so our home appraises on the higher end. This being said, if you do your math, we will benefit greatly if we ever resale. The extra square footage will add value and make the selling and appraisal price much more. Due to the garage being detached and no inside entrance, this area may not appraise for as much as the main parts of the home, but will still clearly be beneficial.

Here is a shot of the unfinished space. Please don’t judge. We keep a lot of our junk in here. Haha!

Now for the fun part, how should we use this room? This is where we want your help! We are thinking of three different options that will be beneficial to our family. I’ve summarized what we’re thinking for each and included an image for inspiration.

1. Apartment for Our Daughter

Photo credit: Gravity Home

This is a bittersweet one for me as a mom. Our daughter is about to turn 17 and is a junior in high school, she will be attending college after next year. We have already been looking at several colleges, but an option would be for her to stay home and attend East Tennessee State University which is only 20 minutes away from our home. This is a great college and would allow us to save a little money if she could just commute.

Finishing an apartment would give her a place to somewhat be on her own, but not fully. She could come and go as she pleases, considering there is an outside entrance. If we choose this option, we will need to add a bathroom and small kitchenette into the budget, which could add on another $5,000. This being said, there is always the case she would decide to go away somewhere to school. A couple more great positives about this option would be that it could be used as a mother-in-law suite or an apartment for rental income. Those are probably not two options that we would use, but may be great for a buyer and resale value.

2. Rec/Game Room

Photo credit: Photo by Alan Mascord Design Associates Inc

The one that wins the vote with our son is the rec/game room! Our son is only 12 and in the seventh grade. He still has several more years to be at home and we foresee days of hosting lots of teenagers here as we already do with our daughter. We love to open our home to our children’s friends, we would rather them be here in a safe environment, than somewhere else. Having a rec/game room would allow for a space that Hayden, our son, and his buddies could play video games, ping pong, watch movies, and just chill out. If I were a kid, I would go for this one also. Actually, I’m liking the thoughts of sending my husband and son to this room to give me some alone time!

3. Office

Photo credit: Contemporist

My husband owns his own company and now that we have started plankandpillow, we are always working from home. We currently have a room upstairs that is serving as our home office. Using above the garage as an office, would allow more privacy. The idea of having our own office to get away in makes me think I would get lots more work accomplished…lol. Not sure if this would be true, but it is a nice thought! Truly, I do think having a designated space that was away from the rest of the house, would help in times that the children were home like summer and snow days. I think Henry and I could handle saying, “we have to go to work,” on those days.

Considering we haven’t made a decision or chose any designs, this project may be a few months down the road, but we really wanted your opinion. We have been talking about this for three years of what we were going to do with this space and want to make it a reality in the near future. So, what will it be…an apartment, rec/game room, or an office? We will show you the results in a couple weeks with the brainstorming of the design.


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  • Reply Blu

    I love the idea of an apartment. But I think some you can blend in some elements of the game room and office to meet everyone’s needs 🙂 It’s a great space and I can’t wait to hear what y’all decide!

    Blu | wellness & healthy living

    October 11, 2018 at 9:45 pm
    • Reply Brooke

      Hello Blu! So glad you found our blog and hope you enjoyed the article. Yes, I agree, why not blend all three ideas. I think we can for sure make this work! I’m excited to go check out your blog also!

      October 14, 2018 at 11:29 pm
    • Reply D. Shoap

      Use it as an office for your business. Have your business pay rent to you personally each month. Be sure to look into local requirements for home businesses licenses. Show the rental as business expense on your business taxes and income on your personal tax return. This is better than paying business rent to a landlord. I have done this business rental for 7 years which paid for my new garage. You have a nice looking garage!

      July 19, 2020 at 12:59 am
  • Reply Char Hart

    I’d make it an apartment- add a kitchenette and bathroom. If you daughter stays local for college it will give her her own space and give you the piece of mind that she is still home. If she goes away to college the space will easily transition into a home office or game room with its own amenities- Win Win 🎉

    October 11, 2018 at 10:03 pm
    • Reply Brooke

      Hey there! Yes, I so agree! I feel like we maybe will go ahead and finish it as an apartment/game room for now and then we can alway change it to an office if no one is using it later down the road.

      Thanks so much for the input and suggestion! We love hearing what are followers and readers think!


      October 14, 2018 at 11:31 pm
  • Reply Gabi

    I would go with the apartment. You could later turn it into an office if you like and also incorporate rec elements too.

    October 12, 2018 at 4:46 am
    • Reply Brooke

      Hello Gabi! This is so true and I think it’s the way we are leaning! We will know in a few months a little more on the college decision, so that will help!

      Thanks so much for your feedback! So glad you are following along with us!


      October 14, 2018 at 11:35 pm
  • Reply Sharon C

    From our experience, I would 100% choose the ‘apartment’ idea with a kitchenette & bathroom, which is very useful for a games/rec room (drinks, popcorn etc) and you also need the same requirements for an office (coffee/tea etc). At a previous home, we had an office above our garage but without a bathroom or kitchenette. As strange as it may sound, it took valuable time out of the working day to ‘go’ to the house for bathroom, coffee/tea breaks, as you’d inevitably get distracted by something in the house.

    October 26, 2018 at 5:35 pm
    • Reply Henry

      Hi Sharon. That is such a good point. I would definitely be very convenient to have the kitchenette and bathroom there with any of the three options.

      October 29, 2018 at 10:54 pm
  • Reply Alexandra

    What did you decide to do? We are in the midst of planning the same project and trying to figure out what we should do.

    February 6, 2021 at 10:14 pm
  • Reply Gabi

    I would also like to know what you decided to do? Our bonus room is similar to yours with the dormer space. Thanks

    February 15, 2021 at 6:36 pm
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