Garages serve many purposes, from rock band practice hall to office space for high-tech start-ups. They may even contain an automobile (or two or three), as well as the detritus of its owner’s worldly goods – the items that don’t quite merit a place in the home for humans but are worthy of a spot in the home for the car.

But no matter what goes on inside the garage, at some point its door is shut and becomes the face it presents to the world. Which also means said garage door becomes the façade of the house to which it is attached – or detached, as the case may be. And that is where the phrase, “the good, the bad, and the ugly” comes to mind.

Many garage doors dominate their accompanying homes, especially those houses built in the car-crazy mid- to late-20th century, a period that spawned many a “snout house.” Those big garage-faced houses have been regulated against in Portland since 1999, but of course garages remain. Ironically, the front-facing garage features prominently in many “skinny house” designs that have been encouraged by our desire for greater density in existing neighborhoods (as an alternative to sprawling into fresh farmland).

The garage door is not going away anytime soon, nor should it, and whether it’s 100 years old or part of a new skinny house, in no case must the garage door be an eyesore. So the question is, how to make it amenable to all the needs we put it through? How can a garage door look good to the neighbors walking by, and also function well as a sheltered, safe place to keep things – or just to practice your favorite rock music or launch your brilliant new tech idea?

In that spirit, here is a snapshot gallery of some of the garages of Portland. The selection includes a bit of the good, the bad and the ugly. Natural wood and faux wood; raised panels or flat and flush; windows or not; historic hardware details or sleek aluminum and glass bands; setback and sheltered or outfront and proud; fixers or fancy…Take a tour through the slide show (link above).

Next week, we’ll talk about some of the options that some of Portland’s professional garage builders are offering. Any additions to the garage gallery are welcome. How does your garage rate?

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