Home Preservation

Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board

In Lakewood, most garages are detached from their houses and are readily visible from the street.
Accordingly, a garage has great potential either to add or detract from a property's beauty.

Many garages share an architectural partnership with their houses. Garage roofs, siding materials, cornice details, and windows are often identical to those used on the house. For example, dormers frequently echo the house dormers, and garage interiors are sometimes paneled with beaded wainscot. These garages are local treasures. Demolishing these structures or removing their ornamentation is an irreversible loss.

When building a new garage, it should harmonize with its house. It should incorporate roof shapes, siding, windows, and other decorative features that complement – not dominate or ignore – the house.

Consider these guidelines when maintaining a garage or building a new one:

Choose appropriate siding.
Use the same style of siding as the house. A garage is an accessory for the house. Using the same siding, such as clapboard width and corner trim, gives the same visual quality. It signifies that this building is part of the property's overall design and not just an afterthought.

Add windows.
Blank walls are monotonous and unappealing. Windows end a wall's monotony, admit light, and symbolize life and vitality within a structure.

Raise the roof.
The roof shape, like the siding, unifies the appearance of the garage and house. A common approach is to copy the house roof. For example, gable roofed houses should have gabled garages and hipped roofed houses, hipped garages. For more interest, add a dormer with a window that mimics one on the house. Match the roofing material too.

For slate or tile roofed houses, the hooded flat roof (shed roof) is an economic alternative. The hood can be covered with slate or tile to match the house and the large, almost flat surface can be covered with less expensive materials. Check with the Lakewood Building Department about the height of a new garage being built.

Save the details.
When making repairs, preserve the trim boards, exposed rafter tails, divided light windows, and decorative ornamentation. These elements add unique character to the property and enhance its value.

Add color.
For wood sided or shingled houses, repeat the lower body color on the garage siding. Use the house's primary trim, window sash, and ornament accent colors on the corresponding garage elements. Even the simplest box-shaped garage can harmonize with its house when the trim elements of both structures are accentuated the same way. If the house is brick and the garage is sided, paint the siding a color that matches the brick. Do not choose the house trim colors or accent colors for the body of the garage. This will make the garage dominate the property's appearance.

For hinged ornamental doors, paint raised features (cross braces, framework, and window casings) the house major trim color. If you are using a two-color paint scheme, fill in the door's paneling with the house body color. For a three-color paint scheme, use the house minor trim color on the window sash, and try it on the paneling, too.

For overhead doors, paint the casing the house major trim color. Paint the door this color too, with a two-color scheme. If it is a three color scheme, experiment with painting the door the house minor trim color.

Don't draw a blank.
Don't use a plain door. Use doors with windows and panel detail that complement the age and style of the house.

Remember that the Lakewood Building Department will need a site plan for a new garage before issuing a permit.

Doors Are Most Important

Garage doors express the structure's function more than any other element. Because of their size, they define the age and style of the building. For this reason, garage doors should be historically appropriate with their house. The modern, two-car, overhead door without trim or windows is inappropriate for most of Lakewood's garages. This is because such a large, blank door, when viewed from the street, attracts more attention than the house. Use historically appropriate trim and ornamentation to break up the monotony of an overhead door.

The historic Lakewood garage door was paneled. The top panels often had divided light windows, while the lower door panels were solid. Raised panels were often found on Colonial style garages; long, narrow panels were often found on Craftsman and English style garages; and recessed panels were always in style. The recessed portion of the panels was usually decorated with tongue-and-groove beaded wainscot laid vertically and occasionally laid diagonally. Cross bracing sometimes further decorated the recessed panels.

If you are fortunate enough to have an original ornamental garage door, preserve it. If you need the convenience of an overhead door, install one having Lakewood's traditional design details. These ornamental overhead doors can be obtained from several manufacturers, or have a carpenter add windows and appropriate ornamentation to a plain door.


The Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board was established to serve in an advisory capacity for the purpose of educating, informing and making recommendations to City officials, departments, boards and commissions, and the community on matters relating to historic preservation

The Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board may be contacted through the City of Lakewood Department of Planning and Development (216/529-6630). Information in this publication may be reprinted. Please credit the Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board, Lakewood, Ohio.

© 2005 Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board

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