At Home In The Garage


A space for cars becomes a place for lingering

IT’S A GOOD BET THAT IF YOU’RE A “GARAGE GUY,” you don’t invite your wife to join you for cocktail hour in this junky space that’s cut out for your cars and greasy tools. Neither did Mark Francois … until his better half, Caryn Peterson, got him a garage redo as a gift.

“Our garage is my husband’s little domain,” she says. “He owns two original 1965 Corvettes that he spent a great deal of time perfecting. And even after getting them back into showroom condition, he’s still in there almost every night.”

Francois may have been too focused on car renovation to notice that the garage’s cabinetry was put together piecemeal out of plywood and not very attractive. Ditto for the old workbench, handmade from 2-by-4s.

“He kept his stereo system underneath the workbench along with boxes and boxes of plumbing and car parts, electrical equipment, paint and tools,” Peterson says. “When he wanted anything, he had to pull out the boxes and go through them.”

Flooring was concrete with chipped paint. And walking from one area of the garage to another meant squeezing by the cars and ducking overhead cabinets.
“The whole garage was so hideous that I would be embarrassed when he kept the garage door open while he was working in there or when people stopped by to look at the cars,” Peterson says. “So I gave him a garage makeover from California Closets as a gift.”

Although the gift may have been as much for Peterson as for her husband, Francois appreciated the present. “Caryn could see that I needed to get organized, even though I knew where everything was,” Francois says. “I was elated about getting this makeover, but I was also shocked. How was I going to get a 30-year collection of auto memorabilia, construction materials and tools moved out to get the garage ready to be restored? It turned out that, although packing was an ordeal, it was well worth the effort.”

Peterson had the garage thematically done based on the cars. The coloring of the diamond-patterned Swisstrax flooring and the cabinetry’s silver-gray finish and black shelving match Francois’ favorite car: a silver Corvette with a black interior. Craftsman tool chests match the other Corvette, which is red.

The 20-foot-long, 4-foot-high cabinetry and a new workbench space with a built-in toolbox keep items handy and efficiently stored. It’s a usable garage now, and everything has its own place.

“It’s gone from being a garage where you keep cars to an extension of the home,” Francois says. “Now Caryn and I can go out to the garage with a glass of wine and talk about classic cars while looking at the cars. We can share the love we have for classic automobiles in a space that’s like a work of art.”

Mark Francois’ garage clutter disappeared when a streamlined design
by California Closets was put in place. (Before shot below)

Before and After: By Eva Ditler Photography by Martin Mann

Categories: Home Design