Minimalist Garage Ideas: The Beauty of Elegant Simplicity

minimalist garage

Minimalism is in.

Leading the minimalist movement are The Minimalists (Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus), who write, speak, and make documentaries about the subject. Organizing expert Marie Kondo has also made minimalism popular.

Their message about the benefits of living with less has been embraced by millions of people around the globe in recent years.

Minimalism is popular in most aspects of the designs we see every day. Phone apps, web pages, advertisements, and products like electronics and cars often feature designs with a minimalist influence.

The architecture and décor of the spaces we live and shop in also employ minimalistic design elements.

Can the “less is more” concept be applied to a garage?

Absolutely. Find out why a minimalist garage philosophy and design style could be perfect for your home, especially if the rest of your house features minimalist design elements.

What is a minimalist garage?

minimalist modern garage

So what exactly is a minimalist garage? It’s a simple concept that involves two things:

  1. A neutral color palette is used for the garage’s décor to give the room an aesthetic that is simple, yet appealing.
  2. Giving the room plenty of open space by ensuring anything being stored in the garage is essential and arranged in a tidy, organized manner.

When some people hear the word “simple” associated with interior décor, they think “boring”. Minimalist garage design looks anything but boring when it’s done right by a talented design professional, however.

The photos in this article prove that applying a minimalist approach to a garage’s design can produce results that look sleek, clean, and ultra-modern.

An uncluttered garage with a muted color palette also has a calming effect that you’ll appreciate whenever you enter the room.

Can a garage really be clutter-free?

Taking a large room like the garage and keeping it clutter-free may seem impossible. After all, it’s the catch-all space where things that don’t have a home tend to end up…and usually forgotten about.

cluttered garage

A cluttered garage from the documentary film, The Minimalists: Less Is Now.

After a while, it’s easy to become accustomed to keeping clutter around. Unfortunately, this results in a room that’s far less functional than it should be.

Getting your garage to the point where clutter is a thing of the past isn’t as impossible a task as it may seem. All it takes is a little hard work and discipline.

Garages are the most valuable storage area in a house, not just for things like yard tools, sports equipment, and overflow storage from your main living space, but for your vehicles.

“Trimming the fat” from the contents of your garage by getting rid of unessential items allows the room to have more open space and be used more efficiently for storage.

Is minimalism still a thing?

Kondo often gets credit for kickstarting the minimalist movement a few years ago with her bestselling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book. In fact, The Minimalists were out there promoting the minimalist lifestyle shortly before her.

The Minimalists, who grew up in Ohio and have been close friends since elementary school, quit their corporate jobs and began evangelizing the benefits of minimalism full-time in 2011.

They have co-authored several books, make public speaking appearances, and host the popular The Minimalists Podcast. You may have seen one of their Netflix documentaries, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things and The Minimalists: Less Is Now.

Minimalism is more than a trend

Minimalism isn’t just a passing fad – the concept has been around for centuries. The Minimalists and Kondo just redefined how we view material minimalism and brought their message to the mainstream.

Kondo’s message was so successful that her name has even become a verb for organizing (as in, “I’m planning to Marie Kondo my garage this weekend”).

Different approaches

The Minimalists and Kondo have different approaches on how minimalism can work for you. Kondo puts more emphasis on decluttering, while The Minimalists take a more extreme approach that encourages getting to the root of why we think we need to own so many things and trying to change our consumerist habits. Both offer useful lessons in how we can learn to live with less.

You don’t have to go “all in” with minimalism and have it be the drastic lifestyle change it’s sometimes made out to be.

Less is more

The basis of what they’re preaching really isn’t profound or rocket science. Essentially, their message boils down to this: not allowing possessions (that you don’t really need) to occupy your space is practical and better for your mental health.

Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s “less is more” design rule is also just as relevant now as it was when he first popularized the phrase a century ago.

Variations of that saying have sprung up over the years, such as the U.S. Navy’s “KISS principle” (an acronym for “keep it simple, stupid”). It may be blunt, but it’s still effective.

Visualize your minimalist garage

One of Kondo’s 6 Rules of Tidying is to visualize how you want your home to look before getting started on a decluttering project.

Apply that concept to the garage by establishing goals for how you want your garage to eventually look.

Goals for your garage-in waiting:

  • Having enough space to park vehicles comfortably.
  • Keeping things organized so that they’re easy to locate quickly.
  • Transforming your unfinished garage from an eyesore to a beautiful, stylish-looking space you enjoy returning home to.
  • Having heads turn from impressed neighbors and passersby when your garage doors are open.
  • Creating enough space to turn your garage into a more functional and comfortable extension of your living space.
  • Eliminating the never-ending stress that comes with dealing with a messy garage.
  • Being able to clean your garage much easier.
  • Having a clutter-free garage floor that doesn’t force your family to hopscotch around tripping hazards.

See your future garage before building begins

Your garage designer can help you envision what your finished minimalist garage design will look like. During the makeover process, 3D models are created with CAD (computer-aided design) to ensure everything is precisely designed.

3d drawing of minimalist garage design

3D render of a minimalist garage design by Garage Living.

These models also allow the client to view the design and ensures they’re happy with it before work begins in their garage.

unfinished cluttered garage before makeover

Before: Prior to its makeover, this unfinished garage’s exposed central vac, circuit panel, and wiring were an eyesore for the homeowner.

minimalist garage after makeover

After: The utility systems are discreetly hidden inside custom-designed cabinets that complement the overall minimalist garage aesthetic. We’d bet that the finished project exceeded what the homeowner visualized for their new garage!

Think of it as curating, not decluttering

You could spend thousands of dollars on a luxury garage makeover project that makes the space look like a high-end car showroom. It won’t mean much if you can’t actually see most of those upgrades because of excess clutter, however.

The vision of what your minimalist garage will eventually look like should be an open, clutter-free space. Living with fewer material possessions requires us to make numerous tough, disciplined choices during the clean-up process.

Curating clutter

No one enjoys decluttering. Therefore, try to look at the process of eliminating the junk from your garage as curating. Curating is defined as selecting, organizing, and presenting something, which aligns perfectly with what you’re trying to do.

Kondo’s tidying up approach admittedly isn’t for everyone. If pondering whether or not an inanimate object like an old shovel sparks joy and should be thanked for its service to you before being tossed out seems a little silly, do things your own way.

As you go through each item, just ask yourself if it has any practical value to you. Use whatever barometer works for you to make those decisions, which could involve applying the one-year rule (has it been used once in the last year?).

Remove larger items first

Start by removing the easiest and largest items first. You’ll quickly start seeing more space open up and stay inspired to continue further. Our previous article listing some suggestions for garage junk items to toss or donate can help.

Use this as motivation: clearing out a clutter-filled room is guaranteed to make you feel lighter and unburdened when you’re finished. It’s a natural, healthy response to liberating yourself from useless things that have only been impeding your ability to enjoy your living space more.

Add hard-working, stylish storage

Part of creating a minimalist garage look is to use storage systems that look attractive, yet don’t call attention to themselves. They need to blend well with the rest of the room’s décor, too.

Any storage systems you choose should be highly efficient to maximize the room’s storage space. When paired with setting your garage storage systems up in the right places, this goal is easily achievable.

Use your walls and ceiling space more efficiently

Make your walls and ceiling space work harder by having slatwall panels and overhead storage racks installed. Each of these provides a wealth of versatile storage space that keeps your floor empty and open, which is just what we want for that tidy minimalist garage look.

tidy garage wall storage

Only keep essential items that you can store tidily. Set a goal to make your vehicles the only thing being stored on your garage floor.

Your storage needs will change over time. Aim to have space not only for everything you’re storing now, but also to accommodate future purchases (but not too many of them, okay?).

Remember that empty space is a key aspect of minimalism. It may be a challenge giving homes to every item in your garage, while also leaving some wall space unfilled.

Organize to minimize

Organizing everything on your walls in an orderly fashion and grouping like items together not only looks nicer, it makes it easier to find and return things to their home. The room’s minimalist look will be more emphasized than if items were haphazardly stored on the walls in a random fashion.

Avoid having too many storage bins in your overhead racks. They’re ideal for storing infrequently used things like holiday decorations that are only used once a year. Odds and ends stored in closed storage bins that are stashed up high and out of your way tend to be forgotten about over time, however (the out of sight, out of mind principle).

Overcrowded open shelving will create visual clutter that conflicts with a minimalist aesthetic. Make use of a closed storage system like garage cabinets to preserve the clean presentation of the space by keeping some things hidden.

Creating a minimalist garage design aesthetic

A game plan is in place for reducing the number of things that will be stored in your garage and where they’ll be stored. Let’s now turn our attention to the “canvas” your designer will work with.

One could jokingly argue that a minimalist design aesthetic has been the default look in garages since they were invented a century ago.

The dirt and grass floors of the earliest garages evolved into grey concrete surfaces. The wooden barn-like structures of garages in the past gave way to a surrounding backdrop of exposed framing studs or scuffed, unpainted drywall with a grey or ivory shade.

Get creative with your colors

To give the room a minimalist design update that stands out, some contrast and a little more creativity with the color scheme is needed.

Choose a combination of subdued neutral colors like black, white, brown, gray, beige, taupe, and tan for your color palette.

Garage Living’s slatwall panels and cabinets come in a wide variety of neutral colors and accents that complement each other beautifully.

To complete your simplified color scheme, the designer will help you choose a Floortex™ floor coating color that blends harmoniously with the rest of the room. A new floor coating isn’t just cosmetic – it also provides high-performance protection for your garage floor.

minimalist garage storage

Cabinets keep stored items hidden to preserve the garage’s tidy look. This minimalist design is the Midnight theme from Garage Living’s Designer Series.

Simplify the garage design process

To simplify things, you can choose a minimalist theme from Garage Living’s Designer Series, which features themes with pre-chosen colors and materials that help simplify the design process.

The garage pictured just above uses the Midnight design theme that includes a combination of black, grey, and white shades. The photo above showcase a remodel that is featured in our Minimalist Garage makeover gallery.

The designs are similar, with both using the same color of floor coating, black cabinets, and grey ceiling paint. The big difference is the walls. The Midnight theme garage has black slatwall with a black diamond plate backsplash that closely matches the cabinet color. The other garage went for more of a contrasting look, using floor-to-ceiling grey slatwall.

Both designs work effectively and illustrate a mere fraction of the range of minimalist design combinations available.

The black cabinets contrast nicely with the lighter neutral colors on the floor, walls, and ceiling.

Adding visual interest to your minimalist garage design

One of the biggest challenges with a minimalist aesthetic is to avoid having the decor look sterile and bland.

We’ve already shown how contrasting minimalist colors can add visual interest. Using textures, lines, and subtle accents are other ways to create more visual appeal.

Floor coatings have decorative flakes with different colors and give the floor a textured feel and attractive, distinct appearance.

Enhance the décor with lines and textures

The slatwall grooves provide the horizontal lines (lots of them, in fact!) and help the space look bigger. Thin slatwall strips that are a different color from the slatwall panel color used for the larger amount of wall space add tasteful contrast. Aluminum diamond plate backsplashes also provide a contrasting effect, along with a rugged, textured look.

Even subtle elements like the horizontal and vertical lines and contrasting colors of the pulls on a cabinet system’s doors and drawers add some variety to the room’s look.

Use negative space in a positive way

If your garage is big enough, using negative space can be an effective design tool as well. A painter knows that sometimes it’s what’s not added to the canvas that makes the rest of the piece stand out and deliver a more powerful visual presentation.

Using negative space as part of your minimalist garage design focuses more attention on the room’s finer points. That could be your prized luxury vehicles, a deluxe cabinet system, or your ultra-tidy walls filled with hanging items that are neatly organized.

car lift

A double car lift leaves more open floor space in this garage with a minimalist design style.

Bring your minimalist garage ideas to life

Give your garage’s appearance and functionality an overhaul with these minimalist garage ideas.

To bring your garage remodel project to life, get started by booking a free design consultation with Garage Living.

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