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Anna's Attic / Decoration  / Eco Friendly Garage to Utility Room Conversion – The Reveal

Eco Friendly Garage to Utility Room Conversion – The Reveal

Welcome, here I continue to share the renovation of our barn conversion.  We completed the conversion of our new home back in September 2019.  We were then struck by the global pandemic in March of 2021 with lockdown I had time to consider what other changes we may be able to make to improve the effeciency of our home and use the available space to it’s best advantage.  Queue garage to utility room conversion, whilst I challenged myself to make as many eco friendly choices as possible throughout this project, there were times when alternative choices had to be made sue to lack of availability of products and the timeframe of the works.  You can read my blog about how I got started on this project and view the mood board here. If you’re considering something similar, planning permission is not usually required, providing the work is internal and does not involve enlarging the building.  However please contact your local authority for more advice.

Once I’d sourced some of the items I put together this board to see how they all worked together.  The bulkhead wall lights came from Iconic Lights and were perfect for the reclaimed look I was going for.  I used two sheets of brass fronted ceramic tiles as an upstand.  The peg board was picked up H&M Home, smoked gold switches and sockets from Dowsing & Reynolds complemented the tiles perfectly.  I had a light mushroom matte aerosol paint mixed at my local paint shop, brass handles from Jack Darcy and Karndean flooring in Washed Baltic Oat from their Korlok range.  I took the image from a Devol Kitchens brochure and used as inspiration for the scheme.


Kitchen cabinet makeover:

I’d worked with independent kitchen bedroom and bathroom company Meliora on our bathroom renovation the previous year, if you’ve missed that post you can catch up here.  Owner Kelly got in touch to ask if an ex display kitchen would be of any use and kindly gifted me the kitchen cupboards, drawers and butlers sink.

The lack of natural light in the new space called for lighter coloured cabinets and with this in mind and having done lots of research I set about spraying them.  I gave the kitchen cabinets their makeover a couple of weeks before work was due to begin, so that they were ready in plenty of time.  I was really lucky in that the weather was great, so I was able to work on them outside over a couple of days.


The process as pictured above was as follows:

  • Lightly sand down door and drawer fronts with low grade sand paper to achieve a key for the primer
  • Fill the existing handle holes with filler
  • Sand filler down
  • Mask off area for spraying
  • Use white primer to prep the surface for the top coat, I applied three thin coats, leaving plenty of time in between coats for them to dry sufficiently.
  • Apply topcoat, again I used three thin coats and left time between coats.

I already had some brass knobs left over from another project, which I used for the cupboard doors, I wanted the drawers to have a nice bespoke look, for this I chose to use two brass cup handles per drawer and label tags also in brass.

Creating the space

I used a joiner that I’d previously worked with on a client’s project, but before he could start the plasterer came in and plastered two of the breeze block walls.  The remaining wall would be built out by the joiner to hide the central heating pipes and a new wall would be built from timber and plywood to give access to and from the garage.  We avoided using plaster board throughout the project with it being so bad for the environment, instead opting for skimming the walls with gypsum plaster and using plywood to face two walls.  Lime plaster is a good alternative if you want to steer clear of gypsum plaster and has the benefit of allowing walls to breath.

The photos above show the stages the space went through, from left to right, freshly plastered walls, play boarded wall to hide heating pipes, floor laid prior to cabinets and boxing in of pipework.

The electrician removed the ceiling light and fitted four wall lights to ensure the windowless space was as bright as possible.,

There wasn’t that much for the plumber to do, there was already waste for the washing machine (which would be boxed in by the joiner) so he just needed to plumb some water for the taps and  to extend the waste to reach the new sink waste.  Half a days work in all.


Once the new wall was up (which separates the utility from the storage space at the front of the garage) the floor could be laid.  I’d worked with Karndean previously and they came on board for this project too.  I chose their Korlok range this time, perfect to be laid on top of the concrete sub floor without any necessary preparation.  When the samples arrived there were at least four that I loved, I chose Baltic Washed Oak in the end as it worked so well with the colour of the cabinets and was light too.  The sub floor in the garage is concrete and has always been cold underfoot but the new flooring has changed that, the room is warmer, even without the addition of heating.  Once of the reasons I chose the Korlok range is that it is recyclable, it can be pulled up and used in another room.  It’s really easy to look after and is very realistic indeed. 

Once the floor was down the joiner worked his magic on the ex display kitchen cabinets, he used a tall oven housing, a set of three drawers and a corner unit to create the configuration you see above.  As with all walls in our house he had a couple of tricky angles to work with, however to say that he created this with what I gave him I couldn’t be happier.

Once the joiner had fitted the cupboards it was time for the left over worktops were fitted along with the tap.  The granite fitter made templates and cut the existing worktops to fit precisely.  In a couple of hours the worktops had been cut and fitted and the tap connected to the mains.  The worktops were left over from our kitchen that had been fitted two years earlier, I am so pleased that we held onto them for their eventual use in this project. I got a quote for £450 for matching upstand, as this wasn’t in budget I decided on one run of brass tiles rather than upstand, I’m really pleased with how they look.


Using energy efficient appliances was really important to me, so I chose Samsung’s A+++ rated Add Wash Eco Bubble washing machine, I worked with AO on this project.  I’m really pleased with the washing machine, there are lots of cycles and it even plays a little tune when it’s finished.  AO took away my old washing machine, a service they offer to all customers.  All used appliances are taken to AO’s state of the art recycling centre.


With the space being windowless it was really important to me that the space felt as light and airy as possible, I chose Little Greene paints for the project, Shirting (129) for the walls, ceiling and woodwork.  Back in 2004 Little Greene were one of the first UK paint manufacturers to be achieve the European environmental standard BS EN ISO 14001. Since then they have continued to consider their environmental impact in many ways, reducing the VOC levels in their paints to almost zero, 100% of they paperwork is printed onto recycled or sustainably sourced paper and all of the paper used to create their wallpapers comes from FSC or PEFC certificated sustainable forests; so for every tree used another four are planted.

Another option for eco friendly paint are paint recycling centres, these are popping up all over the country, I’ve used Seagulls Paints in Leeds before. You could also use up any left over paint from previous projects dependant on how much you need.

I painted the two doors black for contrast as I already had some leftover black paint. The key piece of the whole design is Rebel Walls’s Perspective Manoir wall mural. As soon as I saw it I knew it was perfect for this space, the mural is a photograph of the inside of an old building, complete with aged walls, windows and trees beyond. I was delighted when Rebel Walls wanted to get involved in the project as their environmental credentials are super. They champion sustainability, from printing on demand, so they don’t keep stock of product that risks being dated and discarded. Their wallpaper paste (made from modified potato starch) is sent to the customer in powder form and is made up by the end user, allowing them to dispatch lighter packages with a reduced environmental impact.

The mural took around an hour to hang using the paste the wall method.  The instructions are simple to follow and the mural arrives complete with paste.  Tools which we used to hang are as follows:

  • Wallpaper paste brush
  • Scissors
  • Stanley knife
  • Wallpaper brush
  • Metal edge trimmer
  • Spirit level

Using vintage and reclaimed/recycled products

I’ve used a number of vintage items in both practical and decorative ways, the Glass Queen wash board is a lovely old piece as is the vintage wire basket used to store my cleaning products. I reused two Ikea Lack shelves for storage and display.


I wanted to introduce a vintage piece of furniture to the space but didn’t want a dark piece,  one of Kirei Home’s reworked Indian vintage pieces, a slim console with   intricate age old carving with a white wash finish added another vintage element to the space.  With one of Kirei Home’s mirrors above the console the space felt even more light and airy.  Their pieces are created by artisans in India who use discarded pieces such as doors, windows and furniture to create new pieces such as dressers, tables and bookcases.  I love that the old pieces are configured and given new life rather than being discarded. As you can see the piece is perfect for storing my vases and displaying plants and gives the room a less functional feel.

I couldn’t be happier with how the space has turned out and now wonder how I ever coped without it.  If you’re considering converting your own garage I really would encourage it.  I really enjoyed having to think outside of the box when sourcing materials and products for the project.  The trades I used were all excellent, but if you don’t have trades you’ve used before and don’t have the skills yourself I would definitely recommend asking for recommendations.

Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, Ebay, flee markets, car boot sales and local auction houses are all great places to find used, second hand and vintage pieces.

Thanks for stopping by.

If you liked this post or have any questions please do leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to respond.

Anna x