An Article by Murph, a True Garage Junkie
Welcome to our second installment of Creative Ways to Transform Your Garage! Apparently, I had more to say than would fit in just one article. So, you lucky people are now in for the latter half of my riveting story. My friend had asked me if I had the money and time, what I would do to change up his garage. (For the complete intro you can read here.)
Before we pick up where we left off, remember that changes to your garage involve planning. Making a “room away from home” so to speak is all about personal preference. Give some thought to what sounds relaxing to you personally, and go from there.
For me, these other ideas struck my fancy:
- Classic ‘man cave’ environment
- Hobby room
- Personal Relaxing Utopia
Creative Garage Use #1 – Converting the Garage into the Classic ‘Man Cave’ Environment
Shall we now navigate into dangerous waters for a bit? Let’s talk about the man cave and all that the very term connotates…
According to Merriam Webster: a room or space (as in a basement) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities
Personally, I don’t care for that particular term, because it presents an image of a stand-alone wooden box on the edge of the property, rather than an extension of the home itself as one would consider a garage, but I struggle with a proper term that designates the proper and appropriate amount of respect that is necessary in this case.
Perhaps it should be referred to as the Pretty Palace of Passionate Pedestals, thus recognizing the elevated (and deserved) status of the most important woman in your life. And speaking of lives, guys, I’m trying to save yours. Just sayin’.
Back to the Man Cave – One Man’s Passion
A man cave, by definition, is a place where men are allowed their personal space and activities. What does that consist of? Anything they can think of that is legal and not dangerous. Turn it into an area for hobbies, if you like. A good friend of mine had a father who was an absolute magician with model trains. Model trains? Yes, model trains.
He would build entire sets of detailed topography with small towns, roadways, tunnels, running water in streams and rivers, fully functioning lights in buildings and streetlights, etc. He could create a miniature version of his hometown and it would look like you were viewing it from a helicopter. All he required was some peace and quiet and he was able to accomplish all that in his man cave.
What did he get out of it? Well, he joined a modeling society and found himself building these scenarios in public buildings for display. I used to think it was so cool that small children would marvel over the tiny towns, but adults would also find themselves studying the detail so much that they, too, got lost in the scene. The takeaway here is that it was the man cave gave my friend’s father the environment to create.
That means your man cave can essentially be anything you want it to.
Creative Garage Use #2 – Turning the Garage into a Hobby Room
I suppose this option segues nicely off the Man Cave option, but it’s a bit more specific. Do you have a hobby? If so, what is it? Does it require specific tools, chemicals, paint, etc.? If using some kind of chemical agents, is improved ventilation in order? How about lighting? Sound barriers? Electrical outlets with specific polarity? Why so many questions?
Any room or even a corner of a room within the house itself can be used for hobbies, but there may be a good reason why you would want to use the garage as your base of operations, so to speak. In my case, it would be privacy, but there may also be physical safety issues to consider, as well. Let’s say you use airplane glue for modeling purpose… If that be the case, you would require better ventilation and would prefer to not subject the rest of the family to noxious vapors. Safety is always paramount and what better place to isolate your efforts than an area not frequented by the rest of the family on a continual basis?
It’s also nice to have an area where you can provide yourself with additional electrical outlets for tools or lights, which is not often easy to do within the home itself. Garages, however, are easy enough to extend electrical capabilities with extension cords that don’t necessarily look out of place. Equally important is to have an area that allows your creations to dry or air out, as in the case of paintings or sculptures. One of the worst possible scenarios for artists is to have a project nearing completion, just to have someone innocently walk close by and knock said creation off the table.
Hobbies and Side-jobs
Keep in mind how many people claim to have a ‘hobby’, but they can also find a way to turn that into a business. I have a friend of mine who loves to make quilts. She finds It to be quite therapeutic, but after more than a few people asked her how much she wanted for one of her creations, she started selling them on eBay. How rewarding is it, mentally, to realize how valued your hobby creations can be?
With the advent of so many people now working from home, the opportunities for businesses being operated out of the home are expanding at an incredible rate. Covid-19, no matter how you ultimately feel about the virus and its ramifications, has definitely opened up the possibilities for home business ventures. Employers are beginning to appreciate and understand the advantages or home offices, so why not consider doing something on your own? It could be a great time to examine those hobbies you may have and see if you can turn a profit.
Continuing My Anecdote
I sat down with my friend along with adult beverages and we discussed these options in great detail. I could see his excitement grow while he found himself considering his own options. As he is an accomplished woodworker, I imagined him considering his own way of breaking free of the bonds of employment servitude. As I sipped upon the wonderful elixir of life, my friend and I pondered over mixing and matching options that could become acceptable to multiple personalities. It’s always nice to allow the imagination to run wild. And then my friend dropped that metaphorical bomb on me again…
“Which one of these would you do?” he inquired.
Man, I was soooo close to getting out of this alive. This is now where we venture into the area where angels fear to tread — my idea of the perfect garage conversion. Be forewarned this is NOT for those of a weak nature, for it is my idea of perfection. As calmly as I could, I reached into my pocket and retrieved a few carefully folded pieces of paper, the results of my imagination running amuck. One would think it was a treasure map of sorts, but to me it was a blueprint for the ultimate decadent escape pod – my own relaxation utopia.
Creative Garage Use #3 – Converting the Garage into Personal Relaxation Utopia
I had measured my own garage to get a feel for a potential project. In my case, I found myself with a 12’ x 22’ area or 352 square feet. Now, not all that square footage can be utilized for fun stuff. One has to maintain areas for walkways and door openings, but with proper planning, you would be simply amazed at how fully functional a garage can be made. I had to make a functional list of those things that bring me the greatest joy in life and build my template from there.
An Idea is Born
Let’s see… I do enjoy some sports, but not all. Visual entertainment for streaming services is a must, as well as a killer stereo system. A small refrigerator adds to the convenience of adult beverages in cans and bottles, but a wet bar for mixed drinks proved to be my greatest obstacle.
Furniture was the least of my problems, as I prefer a more spartan environment. Folding camp chairs, as opposed to lazy-boy recliners or sofas, are ideal for my lifestyle. I like the comfortable chairs with beverage holders in the arms; the type that is cylindrical when folded up.
Add Visual Entertainment . . .
One or even two flat screen televisions for the walls mounted on sturdy adjustable mounts are perfect for different viewing venues, but make sure they are rated properly for the weight and dimensions of your devices.
Speaking of which, you will also need to have reliable Internet connection for your cable/streaming services. Remember about the thicker walls between the garage and the home itself? That can make a wi-fi connection from the house modem/router tough, so it may be best to have either a second modem/router or wi-fi extender.
Plus a Place to Mix Drinks . . .
The wet bar initially was a large concern, as I don’t fancy having to cut the foundation for water supply or drainage, but my previous experience with construction of outdoor environments allowed me to consider alternatives. In this case, it would be fairly simple to run a PVC line from the main water supply of the home to an exterior wall of the garage.
It’s important to consider your local climate before running the water supply line. If you are in areas where freezing temperatures are common, then it’s critical to have the supply line deep enough in the ground to prevent freezing/breaking of the pipe(s). I don’t have an issue with PVC or PEX pipe with SharkBite connectors. Great stuff!
A functional, but practical wet bar should have a sink with drainage. As stated before, I don’t want to cut the foundation and tie into the home drain system, so I take the economy route. Run a supply line through the base of the garage wall, as well as another line for drainage. The wet bar is placed adjacent to an exterior wall with enough yard area for a dry well at least twenty feet from the foundation of the garage.
A dry well is a hole that is dug and filled with river rock. The river rock prevents the walls from caving in and creates ‘void’ areas for the drainage from the wet bar sink to collect. The moisture from the wet bar eventually dissipates into the soil with little or no muddy areas. Environmentally speaking, it’s quite efficient.
And Some Finishing Touches!
We’ve covered the basic wants and needs of my desired entertainment environment, but not necessarily the climate control. Dry climates can get away with portable evaporative coolers, but if you’ve got excessive humidity, you should consider a wall/window unit air conditioner. My friends here at The Garage Junkie explored some great options here.
As always, it’s important to check local zoning requirements, but typically these types of modifications mostly require re-arranging, not necessarily any permits. Due diligence is always recommended, however.
I’d like to delve deeper into some other areas of interest, but I think the Amazon driver just rolled up with my disco ball.