A carport is an unenclosed shelter for the family vehicle -- it has a roof and at least one side, where it attaches to the house. The floor may be poured concrete; rarely is it brick, pavers or tile. The side away from the house may be made from open-cell concrete blocks so your carport is a breezeway, a common style in mild climates. But a carport can be repurposed to do more than keep bird droppings off your vehicle; it could become major curb appeal or a warm-weather outdoor addition to your house.
When your Ferrari claims the carport, replace the basic utilitarian vibe with a sleek gallery.
- Lay a floor of oversize stone pavers or antique brick. Clear sealer over the middle of the floor helps protect it from staining should your pampered wheels develop a drip.
- Open, horizontal wood-slat sides, interrupted by ceiling-to-floor framed glass panels, are stylish additions to let the breeze and light flow freely while offering some protection against the worst of the elements.
- Wood cladding on the "house" wall, to match the slats, gives a more finished look to the interior.
- Ceiling spots trained on your personal Indy car highlight it as the work of art it is. This decor presumes excellent insurance and a good alarm system.
Alternatively, your beloved jalopy is parked next to the house on a bare slab of cement in every kind of weather and could use a modest roof over its head. A canvas awning -- in rust, olive green, natural, or marine-blue -- supported by aluminum pipe -- is modern and adaptable. The carport will look a little like a vacation seaport with all that stretched canvas, so take advantage of a congenial spot, and hang a hammock out there for hanging out with your old heap or battered pick-up in the fresh air. Plant some bamboo around the perimeter for extra shade and privacy; be sure to contain running bamboo with below-ground barriers, or it will quickly take over your whole yard.
The car can fend for itself. All you need is a roof against rain for a summer party space that's conveniently accessible from the house and the yard.
- Paint the cement floor in giant black-and-white squares and coat it with a protective outdoor sealer.
- Hang bold black-and-white striped canvas curtains at the opening to the carport to create a frame -- like a proscenium arch -- that pulls across the space for more privacy or better shelter from a chilly or rainy night.
- String bare bulbs across the ceiling, and cover each one with a bright paper lantern to cast a colorful circle on tables and chairs below.
- A fire pit or small barbecue just outside the carport on a poured concrete slab or bed of pavers safely provides supper or extra atmosphere.
- Patio, yard or porch furniture is weather-friendly and easy-care.
A load-bearing flat or slightly raked carport roof becomes a living roof with the addition of a waterproofing membrane, growing medium and climate-appropriate plants. A green roof absorbs rainfall, preventing the run-off that results in blocked storm drains and landscaping erosion. Catch overflow in a rain barrel to water the rest of your garden. The cooling and insulating properties of green roofs create a more balanced micro-climate for your home than the heat waves rising from a black asphalt roof. Rooms overlooking the carport benefit from lower UV radiation and open to a natural vista of green and growing things with more birds and butterflies. Carry the nature theme to the protected space below with a conservatory of seasonal vines planted on trellises around the carport, and add shade-loving hanging ferns in baskets to green a comfortable "patio" area under the green roof.