An Early Attempt... And Today

This page describes my journey with garages!

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    HOUSE #1:  Missouri

    "You never forget your first garage" - In the first home we ever owned, I didn't even realize I was creating a "cave" for myself - I just spent time there while adding things one at a time and, before you know it... I was caving regularly!  It was quite modest, but I had so many good times in here watching movies and sports (including a memorable Oscar De La Hoya fight!), smoking cigars with my buddies, and generally just enjoying my good life.  I built my first workbench (ever) with a single sheet of pegboard above it, insulated the space and installed drywall on the ceiling, ran cable television (from inside the house via the HVAC ductwork!), and wired a phone outlet.  The furnace was in the garage so my wife often complained that it pulled cigar smoke into the house!  Occaisonally I turned the heat or air conditioning to the house off to avoid pulling cigar smoke into the house and, by the time she realized it was too cold or too hot inside, I was done with my cigar and could turn it back on! [grin]










     HOUSE #2:  Michigan

    "One small step for Average Joes, one giant step for me" - In our second home, the garage became a bit more of an intentional plan, though I was still learning how to create space I enjoyed hanging out in.  The garage was only slightly wider and longer than a standard garage (a typical subdivision 2-car garage might be just over 400 sq. ft).  I used a simple workbench design from the Family Handyman Magazine to build another 8' bench, ran cable television through a wall, wired in a phone, and installed a new electrical outlet for a small dorm sized refrigerator.  The walls were studded and insulated but with no drywall - I installed floor to ceiling white pegboard throughout the entire garage (which brightened up the space while making all the walls usable).  We moved into this house in November (the start of winter!) and on the first nice weekend in the spring I started this project... people stopped by and it became a great way to meet new neighbors.  These same neighbors joined me  in the garage and yard during the summer for beers and baseball, and later in the fall for football games.  As you can see, it's modest, but it was a great place for hanging out and socializing.  Unfortunately, we only lived in this house for two years before we moved again for my job.  That's the bad part.  The good part?  Another garage to modify!














     HOUSE #3: Indiana

    "Bigger is better" - This house had the largest garage we've ever owned:  750 square feet (not as big as a 3-car garage but big enough for this Average Joe!).  The best part was the layout:  it was an extra wide and extra long 2-car garage with an area about 12 x 15 behind one of the bays which was designed, I assume, for a workshop - even though the previous owner used it to park bikes and store leftover paint!  I built a 16' workbench, installed cabinets, hardwired an electrical powerstrip, wired in satellite television and a phone, installed a single pegboard row about 4' off the ground with a shelf above the row, and two storage platforms over the garage door that I saw in Family Handyman.  I also recovered three cool 1961 auditorium chairs from a local renovation project and, all of a sudden, I also had comfortable television watching space.  During the winter I installed a temporary wall, nailed up R4 polystyrene insulation board and, for about $40, I had a small room that my Mr. Heater Big Buddy (indoor-rated) portable heater warmed quite nicely.  By adding even more knick-knacks picked up at auctions, antique shops and on Ebay (i.e. Old Style beer neon sign, "man cave" road sign, Alex Karras football photo, tire ashtrays), you can see from the photos below, it truly became a cave for me and my Average Joe buddies.    This garage space started becoming something quite special until... we moved again for my job.  (Ok, moving is getting old... but I am getting good at planning man space.)








     HOUSE #4: Michigan


    "It's not the size of the garage, it's the action inside" - And today...?  Well, we moved for my job again in Summer 2007.  I had to leave my "bigger is better" favorite garage after only three years, and hundreds of cigars, beers, football games, movies and truly good times.   We bought an Average Joe subdivision home with a garage that is WAAAAYYYY too small (why do builders construct 3,000 sq. ft. houses with 440 sq. ft. garages?) - but sometimes Average Joes have to sacrifice to do what's best for the family (right school, right neighborhood, and makes the wife happy!).  No worries - I am convinced I'll get Average Joe caving space!   We recently moved in and I am still working on this garage, but during the first month we lived in this house I was able to clear out the former owner's "junk" (And I do mean JUNK - see below!) and go to work on it.  This small space is an example that anything is possible - just build yourself a small space for hanging out with your buddies and use all the vertical height you can to clear space on the floor.  Below are two photos I took on move-in day:  as you can see the previous owner was nice enough to leave me all the junk he didn't feel like taking to the dump - a white box of a garage with no personality.



    But... I went to work.  



    I painted the ceiling and the walls a nice clean (washable) white, hung the ladder and bikes from the ceiling (one on a pulley for my wife), built another 8' workbench (this time hand-drawn schematically on the back of a paper towel), installed the usual cable tv and fridge, added a power strip, put up a wood storage platform over the garage door, insulated and put plywood flooring down in the above garage "attic" for more storage, installed a single row of peg board with 16" shelving above it, put up white wire shelves in the area between the garage door and the wall with plastic tubs for storage, and cut squares of R4 Polystyrene insulation which I pressure-fit into the garage door for heat retention in colder months (I probably give myself an extra 20 degrees vs. outside).  The garage is so small that I also built a 8' x 6' shed to put under my deck for the wheelbarrow, lawn mower, hoses and such seasonal stuff.   Almost immediately the garage became a great summer hangout space for neighbors, baseball games and cigars - even if I prefer to back a car out to simply create more room.  This garage is certainly smaller than our last house, but it does remind me that anyone can create a little space for personal enjoyment - you just have to want it.  Last winter I even fired up my Reddy Heater 35,000 BTU forced air propane heater for about 10 minutes to get it toasty warm (70 degrees!), and then my Mr. Heater Big Buddy Heater can keep it warm enough to hang out!  I am thinking about installing a simple bathroom fan in the wall next to the workbench so that during colder months, when the garage door is cold, I can still smoke a cigar. 




    And for those really cold months when the garage is not a good option - check out this webpage with photos of the "man cave" I built inside the house:  totally airtight encapsulated room with wainscotting, cable tv, and 290 cfm exhaust fan to pull out cigar smoke!