Motor Mouth: Renovated garage the perfect man cave

Since my son, the Basement Troll, fled the coop, my living space, such as it is, has dwindled down to two rooms. Oh, I still have ownership of an entire three-story 1,800+ square foot luxury townhome (with four bathrooms no less). But single man and creature of habit that I have become, I have essentially limited myself to my La-Z-Boy-like reclining chair in the living room and a one bedroom/bathroom crash pad upstairs. The kitchen, save for a single burner turned on about once a month, grows mothballs (or, more probably, mold), the taps in three of my bathrooms would likely pass more dust than water and I have a balcony that I swear I have not set foot on in my ten years of condominium townhome ownership.

Like a proud father, David Booth shows off his newly renovated garage.

Like a proud father, David Booth shows off his newly renovated garage.
Chris Balcerak, Driving

Not that the rest of the rooms remain empty. Even as my hermit-like status reduces the amount of space I take up, my motorcycle addiction, er, hobby, has slowly taken control over the rest of the Booth manse. Indeed, even before said troll fled the premises a year ago, motorcycle gear, spare parts and three entire bookcases of motorcycle magazines had taken over the other upstairs bedroom while the master bedroom’s walk-in closet had become little more than a repository for spare Avon radials and a precious, recently-repainted gas tank.

A look at David Booth's pre-renovation garage.

A look at David Booth’s pre-renovation garage.
Chris Balcerak, Driving

And no sooner had he left the basement than motorcycle bits, like some slow-moving plague, started taking over his abandoned lair. At first, the encroachment was innocuous, a couple of spare wheels here, a rare-as-hen’s-teeth Calfab swingarm there. But, before I knew it, there was an air compressor in the corner, a collection of used camshafts in his forgotten Ikea armoire and a ginormous Honda four-cylinder motorcycle engine smack dab where his bed used to be. It was an incursion too far even for my gearheaded self. I had to admit it. I needed help. Desperately. My home — and maybe I should have pitched this as an episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive rather than hiring a contractor — had basically become a life support system for a 1982 Honda CB1100R.

The only solution, of course, was to build a man cave, a garage so dreamy that not only would it be becoming of the beauty that is a Honda CB1100R (1982 being the most desirable C model by the way) but would somehow organize all the various and sundry bits that ten years of Honda obsession had accumulated. Filters, pistons and power tools would meet epoxy floors, work bench and storage cabinets in one orgiastic gathering of organization.

At least, that was the concept. Of course, I was limited by the fact that a) I live on a journalist’s salary and b) I have a one-car garage in a townhouse. Nonetheless, I was determined to not Cheap Charlie this whole affair despite its humble origins. I had been dreaming of, well, a dream garage since I was old enough to turn a wrench and was determined that some concrete and gyprock artist would render my hovel man cave worthy.

David Booth's man cave gleams anew after a costly overhaul.

David Booth’s man cave gleams anew after a costly overhaul.
Chris Balcerak, Driving

Said artiste was Marc Javet of Premier Garage, whose first wallet-damaging revelation was that resurrecting an old townhouse garage floor would take more than a slap-dashed hundred-dollar epoxy floor kit from Canadian Tire. Salt, oil and the occasional brake line drip had given my concrete the pockmarked visage of a bullet-ridden ville in Afghanistan. Dreams of a mojito-filled vacation to South Beach quickly went poof in two days of -based substrate and multiple layers of colour chips and epoxy. Despite the fiscal trauma, however, there was no denying the end result was the garage equivalent of an Italian marble floor, my once renovated kitchen starting to look a little shabby in comparison. Pictures were tweeted, neighbours made jealous.

But, the most important part of any material obsession is stuff. And stuff, if it is to be at all useful — or at least found — needs organized storage space. I am not sure if the accompanying pictures do the Booth garage any justice but I now have enough Windswept Pewter Premier Garage cabinetry (yes, even motorheads are susceptible to the overly precious naming of cabinet colours, though we tend to the drab rather than the pastel) to store an entire other motorcycle. One set of shelves holds my oils and shammy soft cleaning gear. Another has enough engine bits — did I mention that I have four cee-bee-eleven clutch baskets even though, as far as I can tell, no such clutch basket has ever failed — to start a historic race team. Oily camshafts no longer litter drawers previously reserved for Tommy Hilfiger; rear suspension bits and their equally oily damper rods are no longer spread on Brazilian Cherry floors. There are even professional garage-like small parts bins so that oil soaked hands no longer sully bedroom carpets looking for that gasket in a haystack.

The pièce de résistance, though, is the butcher’s block workbench — it’s what makes this garage an extravagance beyond its modest dimensions. Yes, the very same inch-and-a-quarter slap of maple that wives and significant others the world over covet for their dream kitchens is where I denude carbon-crusted cylinder heads and oil-soaked crankcases. Somewhere, Martha Stewart is turning over in her bed. The plague of motorcycle bits taking over house, however, slowly recedes.

David Booth is especially happy with his butcher's block workbench.

David Booth is especially happy with his butcher’s block workbench.
Chris Balcerak, Driving

About David Booth