The Compromise (My Current Garage)
So here is the story of my current garage. While we were working with an architect to design the home we were planning to build, we were also scouring the area for potential existing homes that might work for us. Now since I am so darned particular, we were fairly certain that a home would not exist that met my high standards. But…we kept looking. As it became apparent what the custom built home was going to cost, I got a glimpse into how much longer we would be renting. When then happened, the pickiness became a little more lenient.
About a year into renting, the house that was directly in front us went up for sale. It was on five acres and seemed to be somewhat acceptable, so I made an appointment to go see it. We thought it was okay, but I was intrigued by all of the extra land/space. I would have basically torn the house apart to make it what I wanted but had convinced myself that I was up for the challenge.
I called my buddy that is a realtor and asked him to represent me. I’m a horrible negotiator and preferred have someone else do it for me. Also, my wife wanted his opinion on the house. When I’ve convinced myself of something, it’s hard to steer me any other direction. I tend to look at the good and ignore the bad.
After seeing it, my friend said it was so, so and asked if he could look around at what else was available. I told him, “No! Don’t confuse me. We are getting this house.” Well…he didn’t listen. The next day he sent me a listing of a house on a lake that looked very nice.
I forwarded that email to my wife. She saw that it was on a lake (she loves to fish) and drove over to check it out without me knowing. As she was driving by, the lady that owned the home came outside and saw my wife gawking. She was asked to come in and check it out. Shortly afterward, I got a frantic call from my wife. I asked what was wrong. She said, “I drove by that house you sent me and the owner gave me a tour! You are going to absolutely hate it, but I love it!”
Here is why I was going to hate it. I had been very vocal that I had three things I wanted in a house where I wasn’t willing to compromise.
- Flat Lot
- No Trees
- 3+ Car Garage at a Minimum!
Guess what? This house met none of those prerequisites. Now my wife, God bless her, has much lesser desires than me, but I could tell she wanted this house. Long story made short, I now live here and remind her every time I spend a few bucks improving my baby sized two car garage or get a package from Detailer’s Domain that I “let” her have this house. I’m pretty sure that lasted about two months before she starting rolling her eyes and letting out that sigh that I get often. Ha, ha…
So here we are, living in the middle of nowhere with 125,000 retirees, tons of trees, a sloped lot, and a tiny garage. Here is a video tour of our house if you’re interested. Now that you know the story, let me show you how I have made the best of it. Despite being well on my way, I still have big plans ahead!
The first thing I did was to transplant all of the stuff I had into the new garage: craftsman work bench and tool box, Griot’s Bottle Racks, portable air compressor, Geneva cabinets, Pioneer Elite 50″ Plasma, Lithonia 6 bulb T-8 light fixtures, RubberMaid Fastrack wall organization, and some kid’s crap. I promise I’ll get into the Griot’s shelves a little later in the design.
Part of the deal with this new two car was that my wife was going to be parking outside. She gets the house. I get the garage. Even though this is a two car, at least it is oversized at 22′ D X 24′ W and has and 18′ X 8′ door. This gives me room to work with both cars parked inside.
I’ve always been an advocate of clean, polished concrete. I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to do something about my floors. So I got on Garage Journal and contacted a company that sells different types of flooring options. I asked for a referral. They gave me a few contacts, so I picked up the phone.
I explained how I wanted polished concrete. I basically want my floors to look like the big box stores. He explained to me how those floors are repolished often by large machines. The other disadvantages were the cost to do it, and the fact that the floor will still stain from oil or other spills. What I should have done at this point was just walk away, but I didn’t.
I told him how I hate the look of the typical epoxy chip systems. He suggested we do something simple to get the polished look but have it be more durable. The plan was to do a degreasing and light sanding of the floors followed by a clear epoxy topped with a clear urethane.
So he immediately got to work and about 5 minutes after he was done I knew this wasn’t going to work. The clear epoxy turned the floors a super dark gray and amplified every imperfection. It looked nothing like concrete. So I asked what my options were. He said he’d be doing his floors with a metal epoxy system topped with urethane.
Long story short, I paid the cash (a lot) and he finished the floor. I could see why they use chip systems. It’s to hide all of the imperfections and roller marks that are left over. That, and within 6 months my floor turned into a pinkish, yellowish, brownish, potential ACL tearing slippery disaster.
I’m sure it can be done right, but epoxy is dead to me!
I find this with most high quality garage related products: compressed air systems, cabinets, flooring, tools, etc. that there is very little information available.
I had been procrastinating ordering fans for years. Reason? I really didn’t want want to spend the money on industrial grade, relatively quiet, and maintenance free fans. As you might imagine, it get’s incredibly hot in FL, so getting air moving in the garage is critical. Luckily, I also have two windows to help with the pain, but I needed to get this done.
Somewhere I stumbled on Air King. Trust me on this one. If you intend to watch TV, listen to music, or carry on a conversation; pony up the extra cash for the “Quiet” version. I didn’t care about oscillation, but you don’t have an option. Just get Model 99539, and you can decide if you want them fixed or moving. I have two of them mounted in the corners of the room.
I spend a lot of time in the garage so I wanted to add some sound. I had built a basement Crossfit Gym that I never used, so I sold all of the equipment and moved my Klipsch AW650 Outdoor Speakers to the garage. I’ll spare you on these details at this point in the process as I have revamped my audio system in the garage.
My life’s dream of owning an M3 as my daily driver and a 911 GT3 as a weekend car was realized. I fully intend to either build a separate garage addition or possibly participate and design a “garage condo.” That would be several years away so I decided to work on the place that houses the cars in the meantime.
The plan is to get this one dialed in “relatively” inexpensively and learn what not to do. I’m calling this “The Temporary Garage” because it will become my wife’s craft room, or so she says, when I move out. My next logical question had to do with if she intended to actually start doing “crafts.” I have a sneaky suspicion that I won’t be willing to give up this garage either. She can have the rest of the house.
Pictured to the left is the garage set-up and how it looked before. It included the stuff I had in my previous home and rental. Although it’s not bad, I want a more finished design.
This was the initial plan:
- Flooring Change
- Base Board and Attic Ladder Clean Up
- 5.1 Surround
- Metal Prints of My Current and Former Cars
- Overall Reorganization
- Get Everything Off the Walls
It’s a constant battle to keep the wife’s and kid’s crap out of “my” garage. Luckily I’m medically diagnosed obsessive compulsive, so I’m up for the challenge. My son was allowed his bike and scooter. At 3, he has a ridiculous sense of direction and ability to steer things. I actually never worry about him hitting my cars.
Cyber Monday always gets me. I pulled the trigger on flooring a little early. After learning what a nightmare it was going to be to grind the epoxy off the floor in order to do tile, I decided to do something else. I talked to Scotty @LegacyIndustrial about fixing my current epoxy floor. It was going to cost another roughly $5 a foot to add to the stuff already on the floor.
I started researching other options. I played Volleyball in college and played on many “Sport Court” plastic floors. I always hated them. That is one of the many reasons I have never considered a plastic floor.
I stumbled on Tanner Foust’s garage that talked about his 100% recycled, rubber tiled floor. I thought that sounded interesting, so I looked up the company. I found some YouTube videos of some installs. The company was call Swisstrax. Honestly, I had never heard of them.
So I decided, I wanted to do the rubber tiles on the entire garage floor. I figured it would be the best solution. It would eliminate the plastic feel, top my hideous floor, and help make it less slippery. I was pumped. I called them first thing on a Monday to learn more about it. The sales pros they have are very good. I explained what I was looking to accomplish:
- I hate the feel of plastic floors, so the rubber interested me.
- I don’t want some goofy white and blue and purple floor that guys seem to like for some reason.
- I don’t want a floor sliding around all over the place.
Luckily, I happened to get the National Sales Manager, Sarah, on the phone. She talked me out of doing a complete rubber floor. She said the tiles are great, but the connections of the tiles are also rubber. They flex when turning your wheels due to the rubber on rubber of the tires.
She said, “Listen Matt. You need to understand that our product is different.” I thought, “Yeah right, that’s what everyone says.” She promised based on my 15 minute dissertation on what I wanted that the RibTrax Polypropylene material is perfect for me. She also told me all about the deal of the day:
$3.96 per sq. ft. and free shipping! (Oh boy, the wife’s not going to like this one.)
I hadn’t put much thought into what the floor was going to look like. I just knew I don’t want some goofy colors, no orange or yellow or blue. I said I wanted black. She suggested that was a bad idea. The black would show dirt much like black car. She did say that she has had a good experience doing a black border.
I conceded on doing a little design with a Black outline and Slate Grey tiles. Then I came up with the idea of adding the Rubber black tiles in front of my future workbench. I have two rows of the Rubber Ribtrax that perfectly match the regular black tiles to complete the border that is in front of my work bench.
After living with the floor for about a while, I now know it will be the flooring of choice for my next garage. I used to sweep out my garage every time I washed the car. With the Swisstrax all of the dirt falls underneath the tiles. There are also channels cut into the tile to allow for water to drain underneath. All you need to do is grab a shop vac to suck the dirt from underneath every once in a while. You’ll only need to do that once a year.
I have a simple methodology when it comes to paint. I don’t like shiny paint, so I always choose flat, and I don’t like bold colors. I wanted an ultra-clean, almost sterile look to the garage, so I found a grey that I like from Sherwin Williams. In my opinion, not all paint is created equally. I only use two kinds of paint: Benjamin Moore, Ben line and Sherwin Williams, Super Paint (both in flat). This color is SW 7016, Mindful Gray from Sherwin Williams HGTV line. I’m guessing if you’ve made it this far it doesn’t surprise you that I have favorite paints. The idea behind using flat over a sheen is that it’s easier to touch up. That, and who the heck washes their walls? Anytime I need to, I just grab a bucket and slap some on any marks.
I decided that I wanted everything except cabinets and my Griot’s Bottle Racks off the walls, so the Rubbermaid Rubbertrack System needed to come down. This does create a little more work for me as I would be storing this stuff in the cabinets or the attic, but sometimes you have to put in extra effort in order to get the results you want. Some things I’m willing to do, others I’m not. Getting the ladder out of the attic the few times I need is something I am willing to do.
I know it would probably be a lot cleaner looking if I put all of this stuff in the cabinets and the red doesn’t really match, but I love these Griot’s Bottle Racks. I’ve wanted them ever since I got my first Griot’s Garage catalog and saw photos of Richard Griot’s personal garage.
I love complete sets of things, so before I really started to research detailing, my goal was to build a complete Griot’s Garage set. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve bought and tried pretty much everything in the catalog. I’ve moved on to many other brands over the years, but still like the Griot’s Finest Sprayer, shelves, and some of their products.
I’ve had this dream for a very, very long time. I want an array of cabinets that flank the back wall of my garage. I want it to have a TV in the middle, with a million drawers that I can organize and reorganize, a massive work bench, and a vise. The only problem is that I only want “professional grade” cabinets. So we are talking $25,000+. That’s why this always seemed like a dream that wasn’t ever going to happen. There are two garage cabinet makers that set the standard.
To give you an idea, Moduline cabinets look fantastic, but they are manufactured on Lista cabinets. So naturally, I want Lista. Each drawer can hold 400+lbs. Now I’m never going to put that much weight in one, but I always think, “What if?” So this dream kept getting pushed into the unrealized future. That was until I added a third option was introduced, Saber.
I found Saber lurking around Garage Journal where I had been visiting on occasion. The problem with Garage Journal is that most of the stuff on there doesn’t fit my style. Most guys have a more is more attitude where I think less is more. 95% of the garages on there are filled to the brim with stuff and lights and colors. All of which, I’m not a fan. Anyway, I stumbled upon a thread that included Saber Cabinets.
I then started to do some research and got on the phone to talk to the owner of the company, Dean. He was describing exactly what I wanted. He said he has been in the cabinet manufacturing industry for years and basically made an affordable, quality cabinet that gets rid of fluff and is all about purpose. I was all ears and had him send me a sample cabinet. As soon as I got it, I knew this was it.
I started working on the design. The cost? 1/5th of what my Lista array would cost me.
90” Work Top SS-90 X 2 $355 = $710
Wide Storage Cabinet X 2 $585 = $1,170
Upper Cabinet X 4 $175 = $700
6 Drawer Base Cabinet X 4 $445 = $1,780
4 Drawer Base Cabinet X 2 $395 = $790
$5,150 Total Cost
Let me just say, that Lista dream is over. I love these cabinets. The fit and finish is very good. They are much higher quality than others in similar price points. Shoot, they satisfy me, and I’m very discerning. So you can see my dream has been realized much sooner that I though could have ever happened!
I don’t have much left to do to this one. I don’t think it’s big enough for a lift, and I can’t add on to it due to easements. I think the only things I have left to do are:
- Add a few metal prints of my cars
- Insulate the garage door
- Drop a closable vent for A/C
- Add a few more lights.
Other than that this space is done. Stay tuned for either a garage addition or possible offsite “garage condo.” Make sure to check out the Garage Gear page for details on all of the products I’ve chosen.