A REAL ESTATE PRO AND A HOME CONTRACTOR COMBINE DECADES OF EXPERIENCE TO OFFER GARDEN STATERS SPECTACULAR, TOP TO BOTTOM GARAGE TRANSFORMATIONS
BY AMANDA MCCOY • PHOTOS BY TOM ZAPCIC
According to a survey by the Wall Street Journal, only 11% of people say they are satisfied with their garage space and wouldn’t improve it, while another study by American faucet brand Moen found that the garage is the most cluttered area of a person’s home. These figures purvey somewhat of a fascinating paradox considering that, for most homeowners, the garage door also serves as their front door.
“When people come home, they don’t go through their entry foyer,” noted John Pitera, co owner of New Jersey’s exclusive Garage Living franchise. “So many of our clients have these gorgeous entry foyers, but their front door is the garage, and they are pulling into their home in a completely unfinished space. It doesn’t make sense to have such a large space that doesn’t go with the rest of the home.”
A seasoned real estate professional with two decades of experience, Pitera was introduced to the Toronto based garage transformation concept while attending a real estate exposition in 2017. He wasn’t necessarily looking for a new business venture, but as he learned about the Garage Living ethos, it immediately clicked. He partnered with a longtime friend and home contracting expert, Paul Cortes, and the duo opened the exclusive New Jersey franchise in 2018.
“When I saw it, it rang a bell, and it rang a bell with Paul as well,” said Pitera, adding that he’s finished his garage in every house he’s owned. “There’s nobody else that has a design center for garages.”
Founded in 2005, Garage Living is a design heavy specialty concept that manufactures its own proprietary line of high end products, spanning polyaspartic floor coating (named (Floortex™), steel cabinetry, small storage accessories, PVC slatwall, custom garage doors, car lifts, and more, all fabricated in North America. Each franchise has a team of dedicated in house design consultants and a full time installation team that work with clients one on one to custom craft their dream space.
While there is a Designer Series collection for inspiration, the owners noted that their services are bespoke, and if a client wants cabinets color matched to his Ferrari or powder coated garage door tracks that complement her Bentley, they are happy to oblige. One of the team’s latest projects is a gallery space for a client that owns several luxury muscle cars and a high end art collection. The team is creating a multi-purpose space to showcase both those collections.
“We’re not a company that comes in and says we need four hooks for four bikes,” explained the co-owner. “We really create a bespoke environment that is highly stylized. When many of our clients are buying a car, they are used to selecting the woods, metals, and colors, and getting a bespoke car from Bentley or Rolls Royce. We give them the same treatment. We like it when our clients want something out of us that no one else can deliver.”
Fashion meets function is a clear design theme here, and a cleverly placed cabinet or panel can not only eliminate clutter but change the entire aesthetic of the space.
“Sometimes a cabinet isn’t a cabinet,” continued Pitera. “It’s a frame that hides an elevator motor. The builders put all these mechanics in the garage because that’s the only place they can, so we do fascia panels and hidden walls.”
The team also offers custom built in recycling and built in storage for tools, parts, and hardware. Car lifts are a hot commodity, particularly for exotic car collectors or families with multiple vehicles, effectively doubling a home’s indoor parking capacity. But the co-owner was quick to point out that he does not run a “mancave” operation.
“We definitely do many car centralized garages, but we are by no means a mancave company. Half of our clients are women.”
The process begins with an introduction call to gauge the needs and wants of the client followed by an at home consultation to identify garage requirements, take measurements, and visualize the space.
“In the next two or three years, we really expect it to be common place in a luxury home to have a finished garage.”
Once selections are made, the designer then creates a digital model of the space for the client to review. From there, the fine tuning begins, and once a customer signs off on the final rendering, Paul Cortes and his team of highly trained installation specialists get to work.
“We have such a great crew,” noted Cortes, who has owned and operated a successful home improvement company for more than 20 years. “I’ve personally trained them all, and it’s so rewarding to see these guys excel. We strive to deliver a product that exceeds our clients’ expectations. The digital rendering is impressive, but it’s another thing when the finished product looks even better than the rendering.”
Three years have passed since the showroom first opened its doors, and the owners are enthusiastic about the future of the brand. Garden Staters can expect to see additional locations in the near future, and Pitera noted he expects to see many more finished garages.
“More people are wanting to maximize their living spaces, and I don’t think that is going anywhere. In the next two or three years, we really expect it to be commonplace in a luxury home to have a finished garage. That’s where we see the trend going. Our clients don’t cross shop us with home improvement stores or stuff they can get online. They want a specialized product just like their kitchens, home theaters, etc. We’re not just another company that sells a product. If we were that way, I would not have invested in it myself.”
483 Highway 79, Morganville
732.944.0229 / garageliving.com/newjersey