By Carrie McConkey, carriemcconkey.com
Garages that feature beautiful epoxy polyaspartic floors, colorful cabinetry, and abundant slatwall storage have skyrocketed in popularity in East Tennessee. Not only are these indoor/outdoor rooms easy to enjoy due to the area’s mild climate, local homeowners have also been able to increase the value of their homes, and their quality of life, by giving extra attention to these humble household spaces.
For Knoxville native Chris McKenry, owner of Designer Garages and Closets by McKenry, this “trend” has been around for decades. “I worked with a client on my first garage 20 years ago,” said the award-winning storage design specialist. “It simply made sense.”
A Design-Minded Philosophy
“Garage updates are much more than making things look neater,” said Chris. “That’s why the company is named Designer Garages. A professional designer looks at the room, understands the flow and purpose of the space, and consults on how the colors and textures of walls, floor, and ceiling combine. They create an environment for enjoyment. And that is what we offer to our clients.”
The “we” Chris refers to is his talented team. While the staff at Designer Garages and Closets by McKenry follow Chris’ lead, they possess plenty of talent on their own.
“Our team is what makes us grow every year,” said Chris. “People are the backbone of any business, and that is never truer than with us. Our designers have extensive experience with our product lines and the latest in storage industry developments. Our installers take pride in their work, showing the utmost in respect to our clients and their property. All of us are genuinely excited about how transformative the right storage solutions can be.”
A Coast-to-Coast Career
Chris is no stranger to the magic of storage design. After 15 years of steady growth and success as an organizational expert in Los Angeles, in 2015 Chris made a short visit home to East Tennessee – and a life-changing decision.
“Within a month, I decided to move back to Knoxville,” explained Chris. “I loved L.A., but I noticed so many good things happening – downtown, especially – and I knew my future belonged here.”
After several years of using his own residence as a demonstration of his work, in 2019 Chris opened a 1,000-foot West Knoxville showroom. With dedicated consulting space and full-size displays of the latest storage design trends as inspiration, Chris and his team helped homeowners update their closets, laundry rooms, pantries, linen closets, guest rooms, mud rooms, hobby/craft rooms, home offices, and… garages. It wasn’t long before Chris saw the need for a more formalized backdrop for this special area of the home.
“After personally organizing garages for more than 18 years and having Closets by McKenry in Knoxville for five years, I decided to have a separate division for the garage segment of home renovation,” said Chris. “I doubled my showroom space and started Designer Garages to represent our full range of expertise.”
As an independent, locally-owned storage company, Chris and his team search country-wide for premium garage storage products.
“Along with our custom cabinetry made in Sevierville by Inspiration Home, we also are the exclusive distributors for American-made powder coated cabinets by Redline Garage Gear,” said Chris. “We have cabinets that will hold your trash cans, pull-out recycling bins for the workbench, extra-wide cabinets, and other custom components.”
Whether a project is simple or complex, Chris and his team enjoy helping their clients meet their garage goals, even if they aren’t clear.
“We work with every size budget,” he explained. “And we help the owner to identify what the purpose of the garage is for the family. If it is for storage only, what is being stored? Are any activities happening in the space, such as a home gym, home office, or play area for the kids?”
Designer Garages offers garage updates from floor to ceiling, including durable polyaspartic epoxy floors, custom cabinetry in a wide range of colors and finishes, handy overhead storage, versatile slatwall and accessories, and more.
“One of the biggest new things in the storage industry is LED lighting,” revealed Chris. “Not only can it be added to your closet, but it can be invaluable for garage workbenches and cabinets.”
What You Need, When You Need It
Chris and his team thrive on making the design process easy and enjoyable for their clients. Free consultations can take place virtually, at your home, or in the showroom, resulting in a 3-D rendering of your newly-planned space. Upon approval, careful onsite measurements will be taken and a timeline set for installation.
“Epoxy/poly floor installation takes just one to two days, and we can install a top-to-bottom garage, with overhead storage, an epoxy/poly floor, and custom cabinets in about three-and-a-half days,” said Chris.
Renovating a garage in stages is not a problem for the experienced team.
“Installing an epoxy/poly floor is a great first step,” said Chris. “You can add cabinets, slatwall, or overhead storage when you’re ready.”
And, of course, adding storage updates to the rest of your home is effortless for the group.
“We can help with all interior areas with the exception of bathroom and kitchen cabinets,” said Chris. “The garage can be included seamlessly to match the home’s style and décor.”
Possessing years of experience, an understanding of functional beauty, and a local perspective, Chris and his team at Designer Garages and Closets by McKenry handle each project as if it’s their most important.
“We care; we encourage input and discussions,” said Chris. “We are not just here to make a sale. We want it to be right so our clients are happy, and they’ll call us back as their lifestyles grow and change.”