Look at any home improvement or lawn and garden publication today, and you'll find numerous pages on garage upgrades and accessories designed to create the ultimate nesting place for both vehicle and human. It's true. Many garages have become an extended expression of one's individuality and skill in home design and all can be achieved with a little imagination, considerable patience and a fairly accommodating bank account. Probably need to add in an accommodating spouse as well.
Today's garage is as much a fashion statement as a place to house one's car. For the collector who is intent on protecting his or her cherished vehicles, which are in many cases worthy of such care and attention, a stylish garage is a necessity. Watch any high profile auction these days, and those muscle cars of the 1960s have entered the stratosphere in terms of pricing, taking a lot of questionable kinfolk with them. Many a collector has seen his or her pride and joy turn into a bona fide nest egg and, typically, everything is for sale. For many, this escalation in values has meant that these cars and trucks need to have a roof over their roof.
But therein lies the distinction. There are plain old garages with plain old roofs and then there are carriage houses, motor courts and auto villages all embracing automobiles as coveted and cosseted as a vintage wine or art collection. "Our Picassos are right inside here; their names are Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bugatti."
Whether it's a simple, conventional two-car storage facility or something approaching a stable for prized horsepower, the beauty is in the eye of the architect and contractor, as well as the home/garage-owner, and ultimately, what's inside. For purposes of this story, while there are so many options one can consider to dress up one's garage, the focus is primarily on the interior space.
One thing many garage owners aspire to achieve with their garage is maximum space utilization. This enables many to acquire more stuff and cars and whatever can be crammed into their fortress. All this is best accomplished with the proper layout and installation of custom cabinets and shelves. In many cases, it takes a professional to survey what is needed and how best to design the storage units and cabinets so they will most efficiently occupy the space available-and hide a lot of the less than aesthetic components.
What many garage owners do like to display personal acquisitions and examples of petroliana, original gasoline memorabilia, which has, in its increasing rarity, become quite precious. Signs, used license plates, vintage neon, old dealer displays, restored cigarette machines, original Coca-Cola coolers, racing banners and pennants, etc.-all of these items help to accent a garage and add a certain festive dynamic to the environment. Artwork, posters and race flyers also provide a sense of excitement and authenticity.
From a practical as well as visual standpoint, flooring, be it epoxy or polyurethane coatings, ceramic or plastic interlocking tile, carpet, polish or even paint, can make a big difference in establishing a signature garage. Certain factors have to be taken into consideration, such as moisture and durability, not to mention cost. However, according to Richard Newton, author of Ultimate Garage Handbook, "the floor is the very first thing a person sees when they enter your sanctuary." Newton, however, does frown on the use of paint in any case.
Other functional accessories include toolboxes, workbenches, lighting and lifts, the latter of course depending on ceiling height. In addition, for those considering a new build, installing a proper electrical box, which includes 220 amps and GFCI outlets, along with plumbed air lines, is the most practical in order to accommodate all one's power needs.
Budgets determine the addition of air conditioning, and, depending on the part of the country in which you reside, heating. In cooler climes, garage owners may install an underground heating system that becomes an efficient energy source. In some cases, those wintry conditions also may encourage owners to install drains inside their garages so they can at the very least bathe their vehicles in the comfort of their enclosure. In warmer areas, a ceiling fan can help keep the heat down.
Digging further into the wallet, there are some enthusiasts who paint murals on their walls or even go so far as to create authentic dioramas that add a certain credibility surrounding their vehicles. A diner or kitchenette display, functional or simulated, also may become a highlight of the setting. And finally, don't forget fire protection. A plumbed system is best, but in lieu of that make sure several fire extinguishers are readily available.
The Outside Counts, Too.
It all begins with garage doors. Wood looks best, but is always a challenge to maintain. Today, garage doors come in all shapes and sizes and material content, although steel remains a classic while aluminum and glass provide a contemporary appeal. Roll-up doors are the most common, but many people are looking at sliding doors as being more space efficient (particularly if using lifts) as well as attractive.
Naturally, the overall structure should blend in with the rest of the home, or property. One's garage should be a proper extension, even if it is a stand-alone. The local city fathers (and mothers) will be more likely to approve the construction permit if due diligence is taken to adhere to the aesthetic and design of the existing domicile.
Appropriate paint colors and landscaping also add a great deal to the look. Keep the exterior of the garage consistent with the home-no NASCAR signage on the exterior or checkered flags; respect the surroundings and neighbors, and they'll accept your late night restoration binges.
All these ideas and plans can work if one is committed to taking the time and making the investment to put them into place. Once done, this personal temple to transportation can bring lasting rewards and even a little civic pride. Remember, while building, designing and equipping a garage remains a personal choice, it's always important to consider the impact the garage and its occupants have on the community.