Do you ever stop and wonder why your garage is the dark, dusty and cluttered mess it is. As it turns out being a disorganized mess might be your garage’s genes. The history behind the home’s most overlooked area might help explain why most people keep their garage door shut.
When cars first came onto the scene, most people still traveled the old fashioned way, by horse and carriage. Automobiles were stored in the barn along side the horses or in converted carriage houses because the car was still a luxury item few could afford.
As the automobile became more popular and economical, it became a common household convenience, it just didn’t have a proper home yet. Storage in the barn was at first the most expedient choice and as the automobile become the primary mode of daily transportation, the carriage house was converted to what was a precursor to the modern garage.
This early storage method for the car is the primary reason garages in most homes are slightly untidy. Storage of the car in the barn and the carriage house also meant that the primary space for the car was also one of the most active work areas in the home as well as one of the primary destination for the overflow of household goods.
The term garage didn’t appear in the U.S. until the 20th century and is borrowed from the French term garer, which means to shelter. The first garages were detached from the home in the manner of the old carriage houses and become known by today’s common term, detached garage.
The inconvenience of this eventually become apparent in colder climates and the modern form of the garage took shape. Help by the timely invention of the folding overhead door by C.G Johnson in 1921. Interestly, Johnson is also the inventor of the first electric garage door opener.
The garage had caught on and by 1925 the real estate statistics showed that homes without garages were selling at a much slower rate than homes with garages. The most modern form of the attached garage with entry into the home took shape in the post World War II period, with the square footage of the garage rapidly expending. The size of the garage would continue to increase until it accounted for a large percentage of the home’s overall size.
The garage is currently undergoing another transformation with many people converting their garages into media rooms, offices and home gyms among other things. The garage is starting to finally emerge as a valuable part of the home and not just a storage space.