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Mission: Garage

Laura Spero

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Kevin Felici's Garage
(Kevin Felici)
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Got some chores this weekend? Raking leaves? Washing the car? Maybe the most dreaded chore of all - are you bracing yourself? Cleaning out the garage. It's the worst, isn't it? Well, for some people, it's not. There is a type of American for whom the garage is so much more than a place to store junk or cars. For the last four years, Kevin Felici has been working nights and weekends in a quest for the perfect garage.

---

Kevin Felici's garage is nothing like yours.

It's 40 feet deep, 30 feet wide. Twelve-hundred feet of open space. It's got 2 x 12 studs in the roof, R-28 in the walls, R-36 in the ceilings. It's got a 60,000 BTU heater, hot and cold water sink, and an enclosed toilet.

Kevin describes the garage as "high-end."
"There's been no expense spared," he explains. Cable, phone lines, Internet. "The garage, as you see it, actually cost me more than the house did."

The birth of this masterpiece can be traced back to some time during the 34 years Kevin spent doing Radio Ops in the military. He started out in the Pentagon, then moved from Bolling Air Force Base to Andrew's Air Force base, and then up to "God's country" in Newburgh with the 213th. When he got out of active duty, he went over to Roslyn. He continued to travel throughout his time in the service, always ready to accept assignments that would take him away from home. And while Kevin doesn't dwell on the challenges this schedule presented, it would have been hard for anyone to feel settled.

"You know, you always think about the things you'd like to have," he confesses. "You dream about where you could put things, what you could do with things. And like I said, I've always wanted a garage--all the houses I've had never had a garage."

Kevin's wife Gail is more explicit, although Kevin raises a skeptical eyebrow as she speaks. "It's a lot of stress," says Gail. "As anyone who's been in a pressure situation will tell you, it builds up over time. So even though the garage was established in 2004, it was really in Kevin's mind and in the planning stages for many years before that, and that was a relaxation key for him."

Just a few years ago, Kevin finally got the opportunity to make his fantasy real. But it didn't happen in a way he ever could have expected -- and definitely not in a way he would have wanted. On September 11, 2001, Kevin was working in Italy. And when he came home, the first thing that happened was that he and his son were assigned to Ground Zero for 18 days.

Ultimately, Kevin spent seven months on active duty after 9/11. His service provided a financial boost that allowed him to start building by 2004. But at the beginning, he had no intention of building such an extreme garage.

"A box is what I would have built," he says. But once he got started, one thing led to another, and the whole thing just kind of developed.

"This thing grew a life of its own," he explains. "I just got crazy with myself. I went top-end on everything: 24 feet of cabinets, upper and lower. Ten breakers so that nothing blows. GFI outlets on all the walls." Kevin wanted to be able to plug his snow-blower and Harley in. (The Harley sits on its own little rug.)

Then there's the attic.

"Three-quarter-inch tongue-in-groove plywood. Sixteen inch on center." He bangs on the tongue-in-groove plywood. "This is like, solid." And, "there's also three separate sets of lighting in here so you don't have to have 'em all on at one time. If you're working in the back of the garage, you turn this switch on; middle of the garage, you turn this on; the front, turn this one on."

He bought a special mop. A material mop, not a string mop, for the four-composite floor.

"Nothing sticks to this floor."

Gail's a really good sport, and they have a deal. She wanted the outside of the garage to match the house, so after the red cedar-shake and peaked roofline were in place, she was happy to turn the inside of the garage over to her husband.

"I kinda knew from the beginning it was a guy thing," says Gail. "This is his space. It's white, grey and black; it's man colors."

The Felicis knew things were serious when people started coming over to ask questions, having mistaken the new garage for another house. When Kevin would invite them in to have a look, the women would say: "It's cute." But guys would get really excited. According to Kevin, they would say things like, "This is a dream - if I could ever have it, this is what I would have."

It's gonna have surround-sound too.

"And quite a few people say, what are you gonna do with this garage?" He shrugs.

Kevin doesn't know what he's going to do with this garage. Yeah. After all that effort.

"'Well, aren't you gonna work on cars?' people ask. No. What I would love to do is get the computer out here, get everything catalogued in the computer, on a shelf. So what I do is if I need something I go to the computer and I say, 'sandpaper.' And it tells me it's in cabinet three, shelf two."

"There's a word," explains Gail. "Putz. He can come out here and putz around. All I ask is that he put an intercom in, because I don't want to have to call his cellphone when I'm in the house.'"

"Which is also cabled for." Kevin grins. "I have everything."

Kevin's garage isn't about doing things. It's about having a place to put things. It's a huge indulgence, and he knows that. "I spent a lot of time overseas, and to see where some of these people live, you know, and to think about a garage like this…it's very very selfish. But…" he trails off.

"As a daydream, an escape," concludes Gail.

"Yes. Exactly. You know, the ultimate, 'I'd like to have it someday.'"

The point is that this is a place where Kevin will be able to do anything. We're talking about maximum potential.

"You know, there's no building a car or building a box, or building a cabinet. I just want to have the opportunity that if I want to do something. I can do it out here."

  • Music Bridge:
    Joe's Garage
    Artist: Frank Zappa
    CD: Joe's Garage (Rykodisc)

Comments

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  • By Mark Bird

    From Westminster, CA, 11/13/2008

    Hello, I have a custom build garage
    story that you maybe interested in,
    let me know what you need.

    Mark Bird

    By Anne Smagorinsky

    From Holliston, MA, 11/03/2008

    If you want to see some photos of awesome home garages and workshops, check out http://www.listapersonalspace.com/personal-spaces/peers/index.aspx.

    By Sandy Brown

    From San Diego, CA, 10/24/2008

    Nice garage but only my stock broker has one like that,(SINK). You are lucky that you had 34+ years to plan your garage in your mind. I had been teaching Physics for 35 years and fixing our first house, rentals, (6), and our second house,($1+M). My two connected garages are filled with all the tools and supplies needed to do that. I have done all the plumbing, wiring, roofing, painting, etc. My wife forwarded this site to get me to make it look like yours, thanks! I'm a packrat, maybe. SB

    By Gary Barton

    From Gladstone, MO, 10/19/2008

    When I was growing up we lived a small apartment and my mom allowed me to build model planes in a small storage closet. It was my sanctuary and several years later I returned to show my wife where I spent so much of my youth. I couldn't believe the size of this little place and the pleasure I received there. Now days I have lots more space but I've moved my desk out to the garage so I could be surrounded by all my "stuff". It takes the pain out of paying bills.
    Remember this Kevin, when you have a large garage you're obligated to fill it up!

    By Hi Jinks

    From chicago, IL, 10/19/2008

    Here in Chicago and probably other urban centers we haven't the space for these type of alley monsters,our lots are only 25 to 50 feet wide usually so....anyway we have lots of old warehouses and a city boys dream is a 2000 sq ft loft, bare bones with access to a freight elevator.Now that is a space with potential.....you could easily spend your days in creative bliss with everything you could ever want, nothing cooler than watching it blizzard outside while your Harley is snug right next to you watching some wide screen.Women are optional

    By Charles Morrill

    From Charlottesville, VA, 10/18/2008

    I think of my garage as a shop really. The purpose is to construct miniature live steam locomotives. It's not as large as Kevin's but I do have two lathes, a shaper, and a Van Norman milling machine. Reminds me of my days as a steam locomotive engineer on the Mount Washington Cog Railway. It's kind of techno-bonsai, the idea of recreating reality in miniature. You guys ought to cover Cabin Fever. Try www.cabinfeverexpo.com and look at some of the pictures...

    By Charles Morrill

    From Charlottesville, VA, 10/18/2008

    I think of my garage as a shop really. The purpose is to construct miniature live steam locomotives. It's not as large as Kevin's but I do have two lathes, a shaper, and a Van Norman milling machine. Reminds me of my days as a steam locomotive engineer on the Mount Washington Cog Railway. It's kind of techno-bonsai, the idea of recreating reality in miniature. You guys ought to cover Cabin Fever. Try www.cabinfeverexpo.com and look at some of the pictures...

    By allen snyder

    From bethesda, MD, 10/18/2008

    I don't know how to deal with the fact that mine is so much smaller than his!

    Allen

    By manuel moreno

    From CO, 10/18/2008

    my garage is full of my wife's junk.I need help! to claim my garage.

    By Jay Feingold

    From Englewood, NJ, 10/18/2008

    PremierGarage provided the custom cabinetry and propietary resilient flooring for Kevin's garage. If you would like to know more, please visit our website at www.PremierGarage.com

    By michael barney

    From south bend, IN, 10/18/2008

    The link to my shed/woodshop pics is:
    http://flickr.com/photos/31541894@N06/

    By michael barney

    From south bend, IN, 10/18/2008

    My wife and I separated in May and I found an inexpensive mobile home to live in. Unfortunately I was only allowed a 10x10 storage shed. So I made do with what I could. I love woodworking so I set up a small shop where I could do it in. Constructed of 2" styrofoam with a stucco finish on the outside, the noise is greatly abated and it is insluated for the winter. I ran a 100 amp service to it. It is small but I still get much enjoyment from it. I don't have an account but I will try to post some pics on flickr.

    By Dennis Miller

    From CA, 10/18/2008

    RE: What do I do in my garage?
    Fine Art
    I take my parrot's discarded feather, and photograph them with a mid sized professional (film) camera, scan them, & print them HUGE.
    Wanna see?
    go to
    BigFeatherPhotos.com

    Anyway, I love your show & listen whenever I'm working... you guessed it, in my garage, which is nearly every weekend.

    Stay well
    Dennis M.

    By John Bennett

    From Grangeville, ID, 10/18/2008

    The one thing that I insisted on when I built my garage: a "floor model" urinal. The tall kind that you find in locker rooms, etc. When the guys see it they are jealous. When the girls see it they ask my wife why she allowed it. Her response: It keeps him out of the house!

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