Making a man cave out of your garage? Heaters, TVs, refrigerators and other items to consider

If you want to have your own space where you can escape to work on projects and watch the game with the guys without interruptions, consider transforming your garage into a man cave.  The first project you'll likely have to tackle is to make your garage livable. You want to make sure it's not so cold and miserable that you never want to actually go out into your garage. Heaters specially built for garages can help.

Start your garage heater search the same way you would any other appliance: choosing between gas and electric. Stick to whatever system your home heating is hooked up to. Then, cross out any heaters that aren't marked for residential use. Though upgrading to a utility-grade heater may sound epic, a building inspector won't let it pass, and you'll be paying for more machine than you need.

You also need to be aware of space issues. Garage heaters are typically mounted on the ceiling, so you'll need to compare the dimensions of the unit with the headroom you need to effectively use your space. And don't forget to count the drop space needed between the unit and the ceiling. Finally, get a good measurement of your space and take stock of your insulation. Much of the decision-making can be taken care of based on the pre-existing factors in your garage.

Choosing a garage heater is fairly simple; installation, however, can be very tricky. In this case, it's much better to leave it to the professionals. Installing a garage heater deals in many dangerous points: tying into gas or electric lines, dealing with a heat source and fire dangers, and working with a building inspector. Unless you are experienced in all of these areas, write the check and forget about it.


Start with a clean slate

Empty the garage. If it's currently standing-room-only, maybe it's time for a garage sale; you get rid of items you no longer want or need and get some cash to help pay for your man cave. Once it's empty, it's time to clean. Sweep down all the cobwebs, hose down the walls and scrub the floor. Find oil-removing products to get rid of the grime. Consider fixing up the floor by applying an epoxy with antiskid additives. It comes in a variety of colors, so you can add some style to your garage. If you have another place where you can park your car or if you're willing to permanently park in the driveway in order to have a man cave, you could also consider adding carpeting or a different floor covering. Paint the walls. Install some extra lighting, unless you want to embrace the "cave" experience of the man cave.

Order up

Unless you have a shed or detached garage where you can store your tools and work benches, you'll need to find a way to organize everything so you'll have space for a television, plus a refrigerator, microwave and other Maytag appliances. Friend remodeling a kitchen? Ask if you can have their old cabinets or visit a salvage yard to find discarded ones, which you can paint and install. Or affix pegboards to a wall and use hooks to hang tools and other items. It is important, though, to ensure you keep everything put away. If you plan to use your space for entertaining, leaving tools around mean that your friends will be greeted with a greasy mess whenever they come over. Help stay tidy by utilizing overhead space. Use racks to hang bikes and other items from the ceiling, and it will keep the floor and shelves clear for fun.

Home away from home

Now it's time for the fun part. Hang up sports posters and a dartboard, or set up a putting mat to improve your golf game. Go to a used furniture store and find an inexpensive couch to sit on while watching the game; if it's back-to-school time, you may be able to score a great deal on a  futon. Need a table or two? Stack two old tires, cut a circle out of plywood. Paint it, drop it on top, and screw it into the tires. You have a hand-made, unique table that gives your garage masculine style on the cheap. Put snacks such as pretzels and chips inside a large cooler (sans ice) to keep them safe from insects and mice, and you'll have a functional coffee table.

If you've been itching to make use of some spare space or create an area of your own, a few smart purchases and a little elbow grease will lead to the coolest man cave on the block. Invite your friends over for the game, and they'll be so psyched, they'll bring the beer.

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