Customizing a Garage Workspace Area

Reference Number: KB-00841
Last Modified: June 27, 2016

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors


I would like to create custom storage and work space in a garage plan. How can I do this?


Using the Cabinet tools and library fixtures and furnishings, you can create a space in your garage to meet a variety of needs. Work areas for vehicle maintenance, storage, gardening or other hobbies can easily be designed using the same tools and basic techniques.  

To plan your space

The primary purpose of most garages is for parking vehicles. Before adding a work space, it's helpful to figure out how much extra room is available.

  1. Select File> Open Plan  to display the plan in which you would like to create a garage work area or File> New Plan  from the menu to open a new, blank plan.   

  2. Select View> Library Browser  from the menu. In the Library Browser:  

    • Browse to Core Catalogs > Exteriors > Vehicles, and click on a vehicle that best describes one kept in your garage.

    • When you move your cursor into the drawing area, it will display the Fixtures icon .  

    • Click once in the drawing area to place the selected vehicle at that location.  

  3. Click on the vehicle to select it and use the Move  edit handle to make any needed adjustments to its position.  

  4. If you know the exact measurements of your vehicle, click the Open Object  edit button.  

  5. On the General panel of the Furniture Specification dialog:   

    • Specify the vehicles Height, Width and Depth.  

    • On the Materials panel, you can select materials and colors that resemble your own vehicle.  

    • Click OK to close the dialog and apply your changes.  

  6. With vehicles in place, it will be easy to judge how much room you have to add cabinets and other storage furniture.   

To place garage cabinets

In many garages, cabinets are built into the wall rather than resting on the floor.

  1. Select Build> Cabinet> Base Cabinet from the menu, then click in the garage to place a base cabinet at that location.  

  2. Click on the base cabinet to select it, then click the Open Object edit button to open the Base Cabinet Specification dialog. 

  3. On the Front panel:

    • Click on the toe kick in the cabinet preview diagram on the right side of the dialog box to select it.


    • Click the Delete button to remove the toe kick.

  4. On the General panel:
    • Specify the Floor to Bottom height as 4".    

    • You can also adjust the Height, although in this example it is left at 36".     

  5. On the Door/Drawer panel:

    • Click the Door Style drop-down arrow and select "Slab Doors" from the list.

    • Click the Drawer Style drop-down arrow and select "Slab Drawers" from the list.

    • In version X2 and prior, this setting was on the Front panel.

  6. On the Materials panel, select appropriate materials for the cabinet's various components.  Then click  OK to close the dialog and apply your changes. 

  7. Create copies of this customized cabinet by selecting it, clicking the Copy/Paste edit button, clicking the Sticky Mode edit button, and then clicking in the drawing area.  

    • When you are finished making copies, click the Select Objects arrow tool or press the space bar. 

 To place wall cabinets

  1. Select 3D> Create Orthographic View> Cross Section/Elevation  , then click and drag a camera arrow directly at the front of the cabinets you created.  

  2. In the cross section/elevation view, select Build> Cabinet> Wall Cabinet from the menu, then click to place a wall cabinet at that location. 

  3. As with base cabinets, you can specify a wall cabinet's door style and size in the Wall Cabinet Specification dialog.  

  4. In a cross section view, you can also adjust the cabinet's height using the edit handles. 

  5. When your wall cabinet is specified as needed, select it and use the Copy/Paste and Sticky Mode edit buttons to make as many copies as you need.  

To add electrical service

Most work spaces will benefit from well-positioned outlets, switches and lights.

  1. Select Build> Electrical> 110V Outlet from the menu, then click on the wall in to place an outlet at that location.   

    • If you click above a cabinet, the program will automatically place it 6" above the counter surface. You can define this default height in the Electrical Defaults dialog. 

  2. Click the Window drop-down menu and select your plan's floor plan view from the bottom of the menu to return to that view. 

  3. Select View> Library Browser from the menu to open your library browser if it is not already. Browse to Core Catalogs> Architectural> Lighting and select a style of light for your work space. 

    Fluorescent lights are often used in garages; however, Track Lighting and Under Cabinet lights may also be appropriate choices for a work area. 

  4. Click on a light to select it, then move your cursor into the drawing area and click to place a light at that location. 

  5. Select Window> Select Next Tab from the menu to return to the cross section/elevation view and see the results. 

  6. Click the Select Objects arrow tool, then click on an outlet to select it and click the Replace From Library edit button. 

  7. In the Replace From Library dialog: 

    • Click the Replace selected object radio button. 

    • Click the Library button to open the Select Library Object dialog. 

    • Browse to Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing> Electrical> Outlets> Wall Mounted> 110V and select Switch w/ Duplex

    • Click OK to return to the Replace From Library dialog, then click OK to close this dialog, as well. 

  8. Select File> Close View to close the cross section/elevation view and return to floor plan view.  

As well as being useful, a custom garage can have details that give it a sense of style. One common addition to garage shops is a custom floor finish.This can be accomplished with either a Material Region or a Polyline Solid.

To customize the floor using the a floor material region

Note: The Floor Material Region tool is only available in Chief Architect X6 and newer products. 
  1. Select Build> Floor> Floor Material Region  from the menu, then click and drag a rectangle in the floor area of the garage.

  2. Click on the rectangle to select it and click the Open Object edit button. 

  3. In the Material Region Specification dialog, on the Structure panel, click the Edit button to modify the layers of the region.

  4. In the Material Layers Definition dialog select the thickness for Layer 1 and specify this as 1/16".

  5. Next, click the Select Material button and browse to the desired material. In this example we use "Check-Black Laminate". Click OK to return to the Material Layer Definition dialog.

  6. Select the thickness for Layer 2 and specify this as 1/16" also.

  7. The default for this layer is a Thinset Mortar. Since the Library does not contain an Adhesive material, it is necessary to create a new material so that it will appear correctly in the Materials list. Click the Select Material button and then click the Plan Material button to open the Plan Materials dialog.

  8. Thinset Mortar should be selected automatically. Click the Copy button to create a copy of this material.

  9. In the Define Material dialog that appears next, on the General panel, rename this material to "Adhesive" and click OK on all dialogs to return to the plan view.

To customize the floor using a polyline solid 

  1. Select Build> Primitive> Polyline Solid from the menu, then click and drag a rectangle in the floor area of the garage. 


  2. Click on the rectangle to select it and click the Open Object edit button. 

  3. On the General panel of the Polyline Solid Specification dialog, specify the Elevation at Top as 1/8" of an inch above the height of garage floor, and specify the Thickness as 1/8" as well. 

    • Specifying a height just above the floor will ensure that the polyline solid, which will be used to create an area in the center of the floor with a checkerboard pattern, can be clearly seen. 

    • In this example, the garage has a floor height of -24 5/8", so the polyline solid is assigned a Height of -24 3/4". 

    • On the Materials panel, select a material for the polyline solid, then click OK. In this example, Materials> Flooring> Vinyl Laminate> Check-Black Laminate is used. 

To adjust material definition

  1. Select 3D> Create Perspective View> Full Camera from the menu and then click and drag in the plan view to create a full camera view.  

  2. Edit the position of the camera as needed so the flooring and its checkerboard pattern can be seen. Most likely, the selected pattern will not meet the edges of the region perfectly, this can be corrected. 

  3. In a camera view where you can see the Check-Black Laminate material, select 3D> Materials> Adjust Material Definition , then click on the surface of the polyline solid or material region to open the Define Material dialog. 

    • On the Texture panel, adjust the Offset values so that the pattern of your custom material lines up with the edges of the polyline solid. You may have to experiment a bit with these values to get the pattern properly aligned. 

    • In prior versions the offset was referred to as the Origin.

    • If you want, you can also adjust the size of the pattern and texture by changing the Scale values. 

      More information on this process can be found in the Reference Manual. Click the Help button at the bottom of the Define Material dialog to open this resource.

  4. You can also select the polyline solid or material region and adjust the position of its edges so that they all align with the selected material. 

You can finish your garage plan by adding additional lights and other electrical objects as well as fixtures such as tools and storage items. 

A  variety of garage and shop related items can be found in the Garage Items and the Lawn & Garden Tools folders within the Exteriors category of the core catalogs.