What carport? This carport. You know, the one that almost kept us from considering this house because we were so anti-carport? My how we’ve changed our tune after spending a few years with it…
Sherry actually mentioned the new tune we’re signing back in this Listy McListerson post: “we originally wanted to convert this into a garage, but now we’re leaning towards adding a trellis arch so it’s all lush and pretty like a carport with a pergola instead of being closed in and dark like a garage (we’d lose some light from two windows into the laundry room and office if we closed it in).”
The lost windows were a big game changer, since we learned that fire codes would require us to close them off. See this guy over our built-in desk? It would be gone-zo along with the window in the laundry room.
We also got over our need for garage storage because our basement and attic have proven more than sufficient. So Operation Garage Conversion has officially become Operation Carport Fancification. Our main tactic? Adding the architectural interest that Sherry described above. In short, taking it from something like this…
…to something like this. Just more real, less Photoshop-tacular. And maybe with some nice greenery running up it.
If that Photoshop job isn’t doing it for you (it’s barely doing it for me) the first image in this article might. It wasn’t until we started hunting for inspiration that I realized attached pergolas are a thing. Some fancy folks even dub them “garage arbors.” So the idea of a carport arbor (a “carbor”?) didn’t seem that far-fetched. But figuring out how to actually build one had me all like…
Then Google led us to Workbench Magazine. Well, specifically this 2008 article on – you guessed it – building an attached garage pergola.
And it wasn’t just any article. It was an article with building plans and diagrams. Glorious, glorious diagrams.
And, as if the pergola heavens were shining down upon us, their plan was just about the exact size of what we needed to do, so we could follow their material and cut list almost to a T. Hallelujah. So I printed out the plans and made myself a date with the Lowe’s rental truck.
After finding the plans, and buying and hauling back all of our materials, we were finally able to get a start building this weekend, and the first step was installing an extra column on the house-side of the carport (since we needed a place for the pergola brace on that side to attach).
We’re currently in the process of rerouting the drainpipe, priming and painting a lot of wood, making our own curved wooden braces, and cutting all of the slats for the top part. So if all goes well, we should have that knocked out by early next week so we’ll be back with a post full o’ details for you guys then. The plans involve some fairly intricate cutting and bracing (at least by my standards) so we’ll have to see how all that goes. Wish us luck!
People ask us how we get the courage to take on larger building projects like this a lot, and our answer is always “break them down into smaller parts so your brain doesn’t explode.” So to demonstrate that, here’s our own broken-out pergola to-do list:
find or create our own plans figure out exactly what pieces of wood/screws/bolts we need and somehow get them home<–we rented a Lowe’s truck for $20 to get the 16′ boards home prime and paint the wood beforehand (should bemuch easier to do this before things are assembled) <– this is about half done, hence the half cross out build a column on the left side of the carport so the bracket on that side can rest on it
- build the curved wooden braces and bolt them in securely
- lay the boards and slats across the top, making sure they’re all level and secure
- find some vine to creep up the thing for extra credit
Anyone else out there ever built a pergola? Who thinks HGTV should add Pimp My Carport to their programming? Just me?
Psst- I wrote this for Boston.
Anele @ Success Along the Weigh says
I totally vote for Pimp My Carport!
I can’t wait to see that finished…like, well, all of your projects! I think that’s going to look great. Who knows, you may have people converting their one car garages into carports! ;)
Ooooh this is going to look fabulous!! What a great idea to freshen up the look while still keeping your windows! :)
P.s. I finally posted my Macklemore thrift shop challenge makeover!! My $10 mid mod desk looks awesome! So glad the challenge motivated me to go out and find it! :)
Wow – that looks awesome! And what a sweet score for $10. Nicely done Shannon!
Love it! Such a cute piece!
Ahh! Thanks so much John and Sherdog! :)
What a great piece! And the lion knobs are fab – I just ordered a pair to fancy up our mass-market tv stand. Pretty psyched about that!
Annabel Vita says
Ooh, pretty! I like. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a carport over here! I like the idea of adding a little white gate.
Julia @ Chris Loves Julia says
We’d love to do something like this! I’ll be watching closely.
Rebecca @This Nest is Best says
Ooooh, how exciting! I love pergolas and this should add so much to the character of the house. Can’t wait to see it!
Jess @ Little House. Big Heart. says
Ooo! I can’t wait to see this one finished! I’m really glad you decided not to close everything off!
PS. I think HGTV should have “Pimp my ______!” Then you guys could have your carport done and we could have our backyard done!
Done! Let’s pitch them the idea this afternoon.
Oooh can we ask for Xzibit to host “Pimp my _______”? ;)
Wow The Californians and Real Housewives of Disney all in one post?! My little SNL-loving heart is overwhelmed. :)
Haha, I made this weird snort-gurgle when I proofed the post because they were such a surprise. Haha!
Mine too! I LOVE the Real Housewives of Disney. And we quote the Californians all the time at work. Made my day when I saw both of those in one blog post :)
Pimp my carport-yes! We want to add a pergola to break up an addition on the side of our rancher, to give it character. Looking forward to your post!
Rene @thedomesticlady says
OOOOOOOO. Some friends of mine did this to their garage. The update looks amazing at their house! I am sure yours will too.
[email protected] says
Ohhh…cant’s wait to see how this turns out. It will “Pop” for sure!
Kayla aka Kilo Bravo says
Genuinely enjoying the gifs this morning!!! My husband actually has a folder of his favorite gifs on his computer and throws them into emails (even work emails) whenever he gets the chance…
This is a wonderful idea! We have the plainest, most boring garage in the world, and a pergola would totally change its appearance! Now I just have to convince my husband. Maybe when kayaking season is over, he’ll be interested in a building project.
Christina B says
My initial reaction when you first mentioned this project was “Are they sure about this?”. Then I shifted to “They know what they are talking about.” Now, I’m so excited to see the finished product!
Ha! Thanks Christina!
Fran Siefert says
ANOTHER CHALLENGE FOR JOHN – I am convinced that there is NOTHING you cannot do in/around the house. WELL DONE, John!
Haha, agreed! I think John used to fear my building ideas and now he’s like “ok, let’s do this thing”
I haven’t commented on your posts before but I couldn’t resist this one! My husband and I also have a carport on our 1950s ranch house and the only one on our street. Everyone else on our street has closed them in to either a garage or a room. We had originally thought about closing it in but other rooms took priority and we grew to love our covered parking spot. As soon as I seen this post I snapped a pic and sent it to my husband. He said it looks fancy! And is on board. Can’t wait to see the end of this post so we get an idea on how to finish ours!! Good luck!
Wendy @ New Moms Talk says
Our car port when we lived in Mississipi was legendary to us as kids. There were secret storage areas, and a special door. It seemed magical.
I never understood the garage bit until we moved up north.
Looking forward to the finished reality.
If you’re unsure which vine to choose, I vote for wisteria or clematis :)
Thanks so much for the tip! We hear clematis is awesome and might not tug/be as heavy as wisteria, so we’d love to explore that!
Barbara H. says
No! No! No! to wisteria!!!! Although beautiful when it blooms -if it blooms – you will spend all summer cutting it back every week. If you blink, it will be up on your roof in an instant. You will never be able to go out of town during the growing season because your house will be covered when you get home. And it will eventually send cables out underground and pop up all over. I had two wisterias growing next to my deck in my previous house. Tried to get rid of one of them and lost that battle. Clematis is much friendlier.
Actually, I’ve only seen wisteria on photos, but I do have clematis on my balcony. We’re growing it from 2 feet deep pots. In late November we cut it to 2 feet height to hibernate and save its energy through winter. Then in March it starts growing small green leaves and we are always amazed to watch it grow rapidly up to 7 feet in a mere several weeks span! Ours has purple flowers during the summer, but there are other shades too. If we’re on summer holidays and don’t water it, it still revives in the autumn for another month or two of flowering when we water it regularly. It creeps up against a string net that we attached to a wall, and even when the string is empty in winter, it still looks good and interesting. It think Benita from ChezLarsson.com also chose clematis for next to her fence, so you can check her too…
I vote wisteria over clematis. It’s just so elegant. Remember how lovely it looked on that pergola in the recent reader redesign you posted? True, some wisteria species can be invasive, but that’s Chinese wisteria (Wisteria chinensis). Try American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), which is native to, well, America. It’s not nearly as aggressive, which also means lighter weight. Clematis is okay, too, but I just feel like it’s the generic vine choice, like petunias for hanging baskets. You could also grow grapevines, which will fill in the pergola quickly and offer the added benefit of delicious fresh fruit. I’m sure whatever you choose will look great, but I just felt like I had to defend wisteria and tell you about the less invasive species.
Haha – our grape vines offer SQUIRRELS the added benefit of delicious, unripe fresh fruit. They’re all gone by the time anything might be ripe.
I love this idea. We are hoping to build a pergola with trellis on the sides to cover and camouflage our ugly oil tank! I think either clematis or wisteria will be beautiful. My aunt is a big gardener and has beautiful wisteria in her garden and its not too invasive but she recommends getting a grafted one, can’t remember why though! Good luck with this project. Can’t WAIT to see it finished!!
Love this idea! We also have a carport (2-car), and our old home had a nice basement and garage. I gotta say, didn’t think I could get used to a carport but I LOVE it. Main level entry and no place for my husband and I to store (i.e. junk up) stuff in the garage that we have to park around. We lost 1,000 square feet moving to this 1950’s house in 2009 (along with our basement/garage), but we have both come to realize that people are like goldfish…you will accommodate the space you are in, no matter how big/small. And, we’ve been amazed by how little space we actually NEED, even with two small children. And just so you know, we will likely be copying this idea and the plans. :) Although I’m certain it won’t be as easy as you will make it seem.
Sew View says
This is going to be great!
Liz | Hogs Ever After says
Love the idea! Also, love the GIFs in the post. You channeled your inner Roo.
Danielle SW says
Regarding the vine, I have some advice:
1. Do not plant morning glory or moonflower, because they reseed like crazy and take over your yard. I’m still battling a moonflower invasion every spring and summer from TWO seeds I planted 5 years ago. If I’m not hypervigilant, they will even grow up over a weeping cherry I have, creating what looks like a giant elephant topiary (which sounds a lot cooler than it actually is). As an aside: Band Name! Giant Elephant Topiary
2. Keep an eye on the vine when it reaches the top of the pergola to make sure that tendrils do not creep between your fascia boards and consequently, into all of your roof nooks & crannies.
Thanks so much Danielle! So helpful!
I haven’t experienced that problem with my morning glory. Perhaps it is the seeds I buy — I think you can buy flowers that will not reseed themselves. I plant morning glory fresh each late spring/early summer to grow on a trellis I have.
I was just talking to my husband about adding a pergola over our front door since we don’t have an overhang and its just kinda plain looking as is. I will be showing him this so he doesn’t think I am crazy anymore!!
Embrace the carport! This is going to look awesome :)
I’m so glad you are keeping the carport, but making it more aesthetically pleasing. We lived in a house for 18 years with a carport and loved it! The kids could play underneath it on rainy days and cookouts were never cancelled ’cause everybody gathered on the carport!
Yes! We have learned how handy it is for Clara’s party! Every year we somehow end up all sitting in the carport, even though we have the patio and the backyard!
Stephanie, Sandpaper & Glue says
I am super excited to see how this turns out- I think it’s a great idea! :)
Great idea! When you get to the vine planting stage I’d like to vouch for Carolina (yellow) jasmine. It grows very quickly and has pretty little yellow flowers this time of year. We have it climbing on our front porch in Washington, DC, so it should do well in Richmond too.
Ooh that sounds pretty!
Melissa E. says
Ooohhh, the yellow would be so pretty to tie in your front door, too!
Loving the new addition of SNL gifs… keep ’em coming!
shanna haycraft says
I have been wanting to do the some thing similar to our garage and have a purple clematis climb it :) Can’t wait to see the progress!
Lynn @ Our Useful Hands says
It will be dubbed Purdy Pergola. And I will love it. This aaaalmost makes me wish we had a garage or carport to pimp out, but then I remember that my “Kill it it’s slimy and looking at me!” card is almost filled up after nearly a decade of marriage and the husband would probably get sick of me not killing my own bugs after awhile. In FL them lizards are blazin’ fast and they looooove to hide in garages and pop out of nowhere to make you get all Chuck Norris in no time fast. I like your gifs and I’m lovin’ me some YHL this fine Wednesday mornin’.
My best, Lynn
* who uses “g’s” anymore?
Do you plan to beef up the carport columns to match your front porch?
Great question! We considered that but the difference is only about an inch, and after running the numbers we don’t think that inch is worth $200-ish in additional lumber, especially since they sit on a narrow platform along the right side, so we might not even be able to get them much thicker due to “falling off” that platform :)
robin @ our semi organic life says
How cool! Are you still planning on doing a big roof redo project or not?
We have always dreamed of peaking the roof above the porch like the back of the house (which has a big window with a pretty roof peak above it) but it’s definitely not in the budget for now. I do dream about how awesome it would look though!
Ashley Bussiere says
So we have a carport, only one on our street that hasn’t closed it in, and we LOVE it! we’ve had so many parties under that thing. I’m “renovating” it right now with beefing up the 1950’s columns, lots of paint, concrete repair and staining, and adding outdoor curtains to the corners for more privacy since 3 sides are open.
Love the pergola, I hope your post may convince him that it’s a good idea :D
meryl rose says
I love me some pergolas
We built ours nearly 2 years ago and I have still yet to plant vines to grow up the sides…clearly I should hop on that one
I wouldn’t convert to a garage if I was going to lose the windows either.
Love the .gifs by the way. Definitely adds a little more fun personality to the post :)
Meg Kearney says
AH! So excited for this project! I want to do the exact same thing over our garage door this summer when we go on Mission Bungalowify (is there a better word?) our Bungalow! I love out houses 1920s architecture but the whole thing is white! So we’re planning a big paint job and ways to add some craftsman detail – a trellis like this is on our list. So glad you’re tacking it first to I can get some tips!
Haha, I love Mission Bungalowify! Good luck Meg!
Love the idea! My parents have a pergola over their front porch and used wisteria to dress it up. Looks awesome. They used clematis for their back deck and that looks great as well. We’re looking to do the same for our own back patio.
steph nelson says
That is going to look great!!!! I think after the deck building experience this will be a piece of cake for you.
julie g. says
We have the exact same inspiration photo as your top one for our home as well! And I researched kits and they can run up to a couple thousand dollars depending on the design! We are planning on using it to jazz up the front portion of our home but were also considering balancing the house by putting an identical one over the carport as well.
In the spring and fall we use our carport the same as you would use a screened in porch. We live on three acres, but since it is the closest to the kitchen you know no matter how much other space you have, that is where folks gravitate. We have celing fans, furniture, plants, ect. And I have a rule that it may NOT be called a “carport” during those times. It must be referred to as the “sideporch”!
Woah! Who knew kits were a couple thousand dollars! Wow! I worried that all the wood would be really expensive but we tallied it up and it wasn’t bad at all! Even with the truck rental it was something like $136! Wahoo!
julie g. says
I’m relieved to hear the materials were so reasonable! May I ask if you considered using maintenance free for this project or do you think painting and priming will do the trick? We are slowly replacing exterior parts of our 1970’s ranch and are always torn over what to do. I think you debated this when doing the floorboards for your deck as well.
We did debate things like PVC, but since ours was a somewhat unusual size we learned it would’ve taken lots of time (and money) to get a custom kit. So we’re going with the painted and primed route, using the same exterior paint that the other trim in our house seems to survive with okay.
I appreciate the use of GIFs.
You’re very welcome.
Crystal @ 29 Rue House says
I love that you’re keeping the carport – closing in those windows would have been awful!
I love the “carbor”. I drive through this super fancy neigborhood on my way to work every day and there was a house that added one of these to their double garage last summer. Theirs probably sticks out 3-4 ft but it made an already fancy (and gorgeous) house super fancy.
Love the idea! I vote for Morning Glories or Clematis for vines! They both grow beautiful flowers! My mother grows them both over trellis leading into the backyard. Always gorgeous even when they aren’t in bloom!
Love the vine votes! Thanks for the suggestions guys :)
Love! We plan on doing this above our garage door, actually. I am super excited to see how your turns out!
Melissa The Happier Homemaker says
I can’t wait to see it! I have been researching building a pergola but its very intimidating! I’m excited to hear how the process goes for you.
Looks like a winner! Make sure the wood post has a metal base or PVC between the wood and concrete to prevent moisture from wicking up and rotting the post. At the least it should be painted on the bottom.
Thanks for the tip John!
This is going to look great – can’t wait to see how it turns out!
We added a pergola to our garage last year, but we chickened out on doing it ourselves and had my husband’s uncle do it for us :)
That looks amazing Katie! Wow!!
christina @ homemade ocean says
I love love love our garage, but I hate hate hate all the light that we DON’T have in our living room because of it. I think you are making an awesome choice! Can’t wait to see it :)
I didn’t even know carports were something that existed until my sister moved to a warmer climate where she had one. I have only lived in cold climates where leaving your car out=not ideal in the winter. I say this as someone who doesn’t have a garage at all and scraped the ice off my car this morning, the 24th of APRIL. C’mon, spring!
You got me totally wanting to make a garage pergola and when the hubs is like WHUT?!?!?!?! I’ll show him this post for a little inspiration. What a great idea!! A “garbor” would look amazfest on our home!! woot woot I’m doing the “cash in your credit card points and head to home depot” happy dance! LOL
Haha, thanks Tiffany!
I must say John’s woodworking projects have become my favorite YHL projects to see. And the pergola is such a great idea. (I also have the feeling you all will be in a new house by the fall – this house is no match for you, it seems almost finished!)
I agree, they totally go over my head but I’m so fascinated by them! The thorough step by step notes will be a great reference if I ever dive that deep into renos!
I’m glad you gave up (for now) big money-eaters like complete overhaul of the guest bathroom and building a garage. I know you’ll make it lovely anyway :) Maybe you’re saving money for refinishing the floors inside?
Oh how we’d love to do that!
I really admire that about your blog — you gut stuff if you *have* to, but I never feel like you’re doing something just to do it. I love how you and John try to make what you have work first. And the fiscal responsibility you show cannot be underestimated!