Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Garaj-Mahal

     You might be a redneck if you build your garage bigger than your house, so we are guilty as charged.  We bought our 100 year old home well after it was built, but we built our garage from the ground up and had a chance to cater it to our liking, and it ended up being larger than the original home.  Too big?  Nah, just big enough, read through and you will see.

Front view of building with BBQ smoker showing
     We had a garage on the property when we purchased our home.  It was small and run down and slanted with warped wooden floors, and I'm not saying that it was worthless, but the town assessor did the year we tore it down, where he argued that our property value went up when we removed it.  We put a lot of thought into what the new structure should look like, and we took advice from our friends who had constructed before.  A good number of them stated "Don't build it too small" and I think we did a good job taking that advice, our house is 1800 square feet and the Garaj-Mahal is a whopping 2400 square feet !  As my plans for it got bigger and bigger, my wife exclaimed one day that we weren't building a garage, we were building the Garaj-Mahal, and the name has stuck ever since.  My HS friend Bobby Johnston (shout out to B&B Builders) constructed the pole barn exterior with two color metal siding and a metal roof, oh and a balcony, and then framed the inside. 
Right side of downstairs
He would have done the rest, but I had a brief period of unemployment at that time, so I decided to finish the interior.  Over the past 10 years, I've worked with family and friends and finished parts, and left others unfinished, and while you can't say any of it looks professional, you can say that it reflects the people who built it, a little rough, polished in spots, but comfortable in our skins.  Let me walk you through it....

     The right bay of the Garaj holds 2 cars, one behind another.  The right wall holds a lot of our extra junk and catering equipment and in the picture you might just be able to see a new fryer that my sister Meter Maid donated to our business. Tools and implements are hung along the
Left bay Tikki bar and kitchen
walls and in the back I have a work bench and cabinet where I've been known to do small projects, think more Pinewood Derby cars, than DIY woodworking.  That bench was donated by one brother in law and the cabinets and light fixtures were donated by another.  Hodge-Podge doesn't even start to describe what you'd see in this building, but it's as close as we can come without making up our own word (and we already did that with Garaj-Mahal).  This side of the Garaj works well for tables and chairs, when we have parties in it, like pictured above, or it makes a great spot for a beer pong table.  I've spent many nights standing on this side of the Garaj attempting to put a small ball in a big Solo cup unsuccessfully, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

     The left bay of the Garaj hold two cars, one behind another.  The left wall is strewn with golf clubs and camping gear and party decorations.  The back is dominated by a Tikki bar and a full kitchen
What this side more typically looks like
complete with sinks, fridge, wine fridge, stove and counters.  The heat source for the downstairs of the Garaj hangs in the back corner, which is a forced air heater run from our boiler.  This is one of the only things I would change about the building if I could, the upstairs has radiant heat in the floors, but we opted not to bury the tubes in the concrete downstairs, and I'd rethink that if I could.  We can heat it up quickly with the system we have, so it's convenient if a party suddenly develops, but it's a little loud when running and the bays don't warm up evenly.  This is my favorite side of the Garaj and while the work bench isn't my comfort zone, I'm in my element on either side of the bar, or standing at a stove. The center of the Garaj has a walled in utility room where the boiler lives, and where the water, phone, cable, Internet and utilities all come in to.  There are fire doors at the back of
My office cubbyhole
each side opening up to a landing with outside back entrance and a wide staircase to access the upstairs.  That completes the downstairs tour.

     If you go straight up the stairs and enter the door that you see, you'd find yourself in my office, the largest room.  I have a desk and filing cabinets and file boxes tucked in one corner and then the rest of the space is currently used for storing bikes and exercise equipment.  I eventually want a conference table and chairs in there, but like every other room, we finish them as time passes.  I travel almost every week, but most Mondays and Fridays you'll find me working there.  I had the foresight to put in a balcony off the front of the office, so when the weather is nice, you'll find me working out there.  It's a great 3 season spot for a
Office storage and balcony
cigar too.  I've given each room its own paragraph so far, but I'll include the bathroom in this one.  It's fully functional with toilet, sink and a jacuzzi tub/shower combination, so once I head off to work, I don't have to go back to the house for anything.  I am certain that the 100 foot separation between the house and Garaj has helped me be more disciplined and more successful in my business.  While I am in my office, I can make calls without distraction, no kids crying, or dogs barking or kitty cats wanting to nuzzle, and when I leave the office, I can leave my work phone and fax and problems of the day there.  I've found this to be a great help in keeping my work from invading my home time, too many of us answer work e-mails 24 hours a day, and I need my down time, so I try and avoid it as best I can. 

     The next room is a rec room and was designed to help relieve stress.  A small pool table is in the center, but the room can quickly be converted for a poker game.  Beer signs hang on every wall and a bar rail runs the length of most of them.  A closet on the east wall holds 15 years worth of our charity
The rec room
golf tournament files and paraphernalia.   The floor remains unfinished and I'm not sure how we will finish it.  I want something unique but durable that will take the spills and cigar ash that may drop there.  Nolan has been collecting plastic hotel cards from my travels for 10 years and we've toyed with the idea of using these as flooring, but we may not have enough yet.  This room is equipped with 2 circular light/fan combinations that have 25 CFM vent fans in them to help abate the smoke.  They will keep up with a bunch of card players smoking cigars pretty well, and if we open a window and leave them running for a night, they'll remove the rest.  I've hosted a few different poker groups in this room over the years, and I'm pretty sure that I agreed to do a monthly one at a recent party we had, so this room gets used exactly as it was designed.  I cannot say that about the last room.

     I had grand plans for the remaining space in the Garaj, it was going to be a media room.  I ran speaker wire in the walls and set it up for surround sound.  I envisioned a huge flat panel TV on one wall and theater seating in the middle, where we all would gather and screen the new releases or watch my beloved Buffalo Bills, but that all changed the first year Molly came home from college.  I
Upstairs bedroom
passed her on the stairs one morning as I was getting up at 4:30 and she was headed to bed.  I almost had an argument with her, but as I thought it through there was no reason to have it.  She had become accustomed to a later schedule at college, and to her independence, and while she was home she was working full time and helping out whenever asked, so I dedicated that room to be a bedroom for our kids when they returned home.  Both Molly and Danny have used it now, and they both have been great about spending dinner and prime time with us, but then heading out to their space after we retire for the night.  It was well worth the sacrifice of my media room to keep better relations with our kids during their college years and maybe one of the best uses for space in the Garaj.  This concludes the tour of the Garj-Mahal, a lengthy blog for a very large space.  I'll end with some other advice that I took while building it, from friends who understood the occasional need for separation from a spouse,  which was...." If you are going to build a dog house, you might as well make it a good one".  I think I did alright. 

1 comment:

cdyarger said...

Best doghouse in Hall!!!