Who says garages have to be cold, dirty and uncomfortable?Photo: Courtesy of The Family Handyman
Cool bike, cool lift, cool garage!
A motorcycle lift raises bikes to comfortable working height.Photo: Courtesy of The Family Handyman
One Minnesota radio talk show host often asks callers about their “cylinder index”. That’s the number you’d get if you added up all the cylinders in your garage—cars, lawn mowers, air compressors, motorcycles, weed trimmers, etc. The higher your cylinder count, the higher your status in the world of garage aficionados.
Chris and Pat Edgerton had an extraordinarily high piston count—in the high 40s. Prodigious collectors, customizers and riders of motorcycles, they simply didn’t have room for it all. When this husband-and-wife team built a new house, they made sure it had a garage big enough to handle their hobby. In fact, the garage was so large (28 by 40 ft.) that when the house’s foundation was put in, neighbors thought they were building a duplex. Once the 1,100-sq.-ft. garage was complete, the organizing began.
All the comforts of home
Designed for how they live
An in-garage office, complete with Internet access and telephone, makes online research, parts ordering and referring to service manuals convenient.Photo: Courtesy of The Family Handyman
A motorcycle lift coupled with an adjacent bank of tool chests keeps tools within reach and bikes at a comfortable working height.Photo: Courtesy of The Family Handyman
It’s not unusual for Chris to spend two hours a night puttering on motorcycles, so comfort was high on the list. Creating a comfortable garage is a lot like creating a comfortable home.
The snap-together polypropylene floor tiles are easy to keep clean, reasonably priced and more comfortable than concrete to stand on for long periods. They’re also chemical resistant, self-draining and durable. Modular construction allows you to create patterns of your own—checkerboard, striped or bordered—and they install quickly. The Edgertons tackled this part of the project themselves and finished it in about four hours. Another advantage of tile is that, unlike paints and coatings, there’s no downtime waiting for it to dry and cure.
A ceiling-mounted space heater keeps the garage comfortable year round, without consuming precious floor space. During the coldest part of the winter, Chris partitions off the “collecting” side of the garage from the “day to day” garage with a tarp to help conserve energy.
Outlets were installed every 32 in. to minimize the need for long extension cords, and were put on two different circuits to minimize overloading. A good-size window and ceiling-mounted 4-ft. fluorescent lights provide excellent general lighting; the trouble light, complete with retractable cord reel, helps put task light wherever it’s needed.
Chris uses the in-garage computer and Internet access for research and online parts ordering. A telephone stationed in the garage saves trips through the house. The space also contains a wall-mounted television and stereo.
A pneumatic motorcycle lift allows Chris to work on bikes without bending and stooping. “Not a bad thing to have when you’re pushing 60,” explains Chris.
Building Blocks for Dream Garages: Protective flooring or paint
Product possibilities include snap-together polypropylene tiles, rollout garage flooring and a variety of do-it-yourself and professionals-only epoxy paints and coatings in a wide range of prices.
Most slot wall–type hooks, baskets and other storage racks sold at home centers and garage specialty stores are interchangeable from one system to another. Specialized hangers include those for wheelbarrows, in-line skates, golf clubs, fishing rods, even coats.
Auto parts–inspired furniture
Create a comfortable place to sit and admire your newly organized garage. Crafted from wheel rims, this custom-made furniture includes tables, swivel chairs and barbecue grills.
Out of sight, yet well within reach
A half-height cabinet provides storage space as well as niches for an air compressor, a heater and other utilities.Photo: Courtesy of The Family Handyman
It takes lots of tools, parts and accessories to feed a hungry hobby. Chris, an admitted neat freak, opted for all enclosed storage. Sturdy yet economically priced MDF cabinets create the heart of the storage area. The extra-deep garage enabled Chris to install 24-in.-deep cabinets; many standard-size garages, in order to still fit vehicles, can only accommodate 12- or 18- in.-deep cabinets. All cabinets are either wall mounted or perched on legs to prevent moisture damage and make cleaning below easy.
A half-height cabinet maximizes the use of space in one corner. A compressor and a jack tuck under the cabinet, the heater is mounted over it, the circuit box sits across from it, a ladder hangs from it and all sorts of miscellaneous items reside within it. A long bank of 12-in.-deep cabinets mounted well above “head-banging height” on the side wall provides storage space for items used less often, while taking up little usable space.
It comes as no surprise that Chris, a machinist by trade, likes to keep his tools organized and accessible. A platoon of mobile tool carts and drawer chests keeps everything in order and within easy reach.
Have a Little Fun
Harley enthusiasts like Pat and Chris like to toot their horns a little. A Harley wall clock roars on the hour while a Harley-inspired ceiling fan sports a headlight-style light fixture. The Harley-seat roll-around stool is convenient for working on the computer and motorcycles alike. And what garage would be complete without a colorful motorcycle border running around the perimeter?
Required Tools for this Project
Like any major remodel, you’ll need scale drawings, a building permit, and all the standard hand and power tools. Specialty garage stores and contractors are available who can do all or part of the job for you, if you’re not ready to tackle the whole project yourself.