Garages That Kick the ‘Man Cave’ Stereotypes to the Curb
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Garages That Kick the ‘Man Cave’ Stereotypes to the Curb

By Jim Motavalli
Fri, Oct 6, 2023 8:56amGrey Clock 4 min

Garages have long been little more than a home’s spare space, ideal for storage, fixing up cars and, for some, a small escape with an old couch and mini fridge. But now, mop up those oil spills because there’s no end to the features that can transform it into something a whole lot more enticing.

The idea of making a garage into a refuge probably originated in postwar America, when magazines like Popular Mechanics were full of do-it-yourself plans for transforming your home place with built-ins. Then, the “man cave” of popular imagination had a big heyday in the 1980s, when garages were fitted with TVs, built-in bars, and a microwave for popcorn. These days, garage retreats are getting a bit more sophisticated—and much more functional.

“Our focus is on transforming garages into clean, bright and functional spaces,” Aaron Cash, a co-founder of Garage Living and head of its franchise systems, said. “People do come to us wanting ‘man caves,’ but that’s not our focus. We’re about recognising the value of and reclaiming the space.”

Garage Living now has 45 franchise locations around the U.S., Canada (where the company is based) and Australia. Makeovers range from $20,000 to $100,000. The goal is to get a family’s accumulated “stuff” off the floor and into the company’s own line of powder-coated cabinets, or mounted on the walls and overhead.

Garage Living made over this space with vaulted ceilings and a finished floor.
Garage Living

“This is a growing category,” Cash said. “There’s a lot of interest from an affluent clientele with disposable income.”

Not everyone wants their space uncluttered. Today’s popular accessories for garage makeovers include home theatres, high-tech audio equipment, golf simulators, fireplaces with remotes, wine racks, custom flooring (sometimes heated) and lifts that allow a multi-car collection to be displayed in a smaller space.

Meanwhile, for the auto enthusiast, there are tool chests, rotisseries for working on a car’s underside, pressure washers and compressors, engine hoists, work benches, and more.

A collector car garage with Levrack shelving.

Storage space is always at a premium. Levrack, launched in 2016, makes a shelving system that suspends its racks from above. The sections, each with three or more shelves, slide together and apart to maximise space.

Ryan Stauffer, the Nebraska-based co-founder of Levrack, said that 80% to 90% of his company’s business is industrial and commercial, but it’s moving increasingly into residential—with strong buy-in from big car collectors like Jay Leno. The Porsche Classic Factory Restorations facility in Atlanta is also a client.

The Wisconsin- and Nebraska-made units make it possible to collect all the stray tools, cleaners and products that typically live in all corners of the garage and store them out of sight, freeing up a lot of floor space. Units come in seven- to 12-foot widths, with varying depth and height. Prices range up to $7,400 for a 12-foot unit.

Garage Living makeovers range from $20,000 to $100,000.
Garage Living

“We appeal to high-end consumers, people who have a lot of gear,” Stauffer said. “The concept goes back to the 1950s for agriculture, healthcare and other industries, and the racks typically have tracks at the floor level. But in the garage space, where dirt, oil and contamination are an issue, it makes more sense to suspend from the top of the rack.”

Taking the modern garage further still is the Hangar Group, which builds “premier garage condominiums,” where people can store their vehicles in luxury.

The first of these was in Riviera Beach, Florida, completed in 2019—it sold out. And the second is in West Palm Beach, near the airport, with a 2024 completion date. The new facility will have more than 60 units, ranging from 1,500 to 4,500 square feet, with a full-time concierge. There will be a members’ club with golf simulators, a lounge and even a boardroom.


“What we’re doing is a little different,” said Scott Cunningham, founder and CEO of the Hangar Group. “Some of our customers buy as many as three units and furnish them with high-level amenities like $100,000 wine coolers for their million-dollar collections. We get Fortune 500 executives and equity guys. For some, it becomes like a personal museum—but for security reasons a museum with no windows at street level.”

The Hangar obviously appeals to car collectors, some of them with a dozen or more vehicles, and sponsors track days at nearby race meccas Homestead, Sebring and Daytona.

The Palm Beach location is already 70% sold. A third complex will cater to car collectors in the Hamptons, in New York, and ultimately there will be six to eight locations, he said.

“I’m a Ferrari guy at heart,” he said. “Many of our customers are people, like me, who don’t have room for any more cars at home,” he said. “They once traded in their Ferrari 360 for a 430, but now they want to keep them both.” Often, there’s a guitar collection, too.

The Hangar’s concept is similar to another recent phenomenon—full condominiums, with garages attached, located near race tracks—or with their own. Circuit Florida, between Orlando and Tampa, is one of those. The $90 million complex includes a 1.7-mile private track, with 75 two-story condos. The project is now “six weeks out from the asphalt paving,” according to the company. These are units for serious car people—with garages that will accommodate up to six vehicles.

Space is at a premium in most garages, and Levrack’s “mobile aisle” shelving helps.

This article originally appeared on Mansion Global.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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Whether you call it charisma, charm or magnetism, some people seem like naturals. Good news: It can be learned.

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Great leaders have it. Gen Z has a new word for it. Can the rest of us learn it?

Charisma—or rizz , as current teenage slang has anointed it—can feel like an ephemeral gift some are just born with. The chosen among us network and chitchat, exuding warmth as they effortlessly hold court. Then there’s everyone else, agonising over exclamation points in email drafts and internally replaying that joke they made in the meeting, wondering if it hit.

“Well, this is awkward,” Mike Rizzo, the head of a community for marketing operations professionals, says of rizz being crowned 2023 word of the year by the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s so close to his last name, but so far from how he sees himself. He sometimes gets sweaty palms before hosting webinars.

Who could blame us for obsessing over charisma, or lack thereof? It can lubricate social interactions, win us friends, and score promotions . It’s also possible to cultivate, assures Charles Duhigg, the author of a book about people he dubs super communicators.

At its heart, charisma isn’t about some grand performance. It’s a state we elicit in other people, Duhigg says. It’s about fostering connection and making our conversation partners feel they’re the charming—or interesting or funny—ones.

The key is to ask deeper, though not prying, questions that invite meaningful and revealing responses, Duhigg says. And match the other person’s vibes. Maybe they want to talk about emotions, the joy they felt watching their kid graduate from high school last weekend. Or maybe they’re just after straight-up logistics and want you to quickly tell them exactly how the team is going to turn around that presentation by tomorrow.

You might be hired into a company for your skill set, Duhigg says, but your ability to communicate and earn people’s trust propels you up the ladder: “That is leadership.”

Approachable and relatable

In reporting this column, I was surprised to hear many executives and professionals I find breezily confident and pleasantly chatty confess it wasn’t something that came naturally. They had to work on it.

Dave MacLennan , who served as chief executive of agricultural giant Cargill for nearly a decade, started by leaning into a nickname: DMac, first bestowed upon him in a C-suite meeting where half the executives were named Dave.

He liked the informality of it. The further he ascended up the corporate hierarchy, the more he strove to be approachable and relatable.

Employees “need a reason to follow you,” he says. “One of the reasons they’re going to follow you is that they feel they know you.”

He makes a point to remember the details and dates of people’s lives, such as colleagues’ birthdays. After making his acquaintance, in a meeting years ago at The Wall Street Journal’s offices, I was shocked to receive an email from his address months later. Subject line: You , a heading so compelling I still recall it. He went on to say he remembered I was due with my first child any day now and just wanted to say good luck.

“So many people say, ‘Oh, I don’t have a good memory for that,’” he says. Prioritise remembering, making notes on your phone if you need, he says.

Now a board member and an executive coach, MacLennan sent hundreds of handwritten notes during his tenure. He’d reach out to midlevel managers who’d just gotten a promotion, or engineers who showed him around meat-processing plants. He’d pen words of thanks or congratulations. And he’d address the envelopes himself.

“Your handwriting is a very personal thing about you,” he says. “Think about it. Twenty seconds. It makes such an impact.”

Everyone’s important

Doling out your charm selectively will backfire, says Carla Harris , a Morgan Stanley executive. She chats up the woman cleaning the office, the receptionist at her doctor’s, the guy waiting alongside her for the elevator.

“Don’t be confused,” she tells young bankers. Executive assistants are often the most powerful people in the building, and you never know how someone can help—or hurt—you down the line.

Harris once spent a year mentoring a junior worker in another department, not expecting anything in return. One day, Harris randomly mentioned she faced an uphill battle in meeting with a new client. Oh!, the 24-year-old said. Turns out, the client was her friend. She made the call right there, setting up Harris for a work win.

In the office, stop staring at your phone, Harris advises, and notice the people around you. Ask for their names. Push yourself to start a conversation with three random people every day.

Charisma for introverts

You can’t will yourself to be a bubbly extrovert, but you can find your own brand of charisma, says Vanessa Van Edwards, a communications trainer and author of a book about charismatic communication.

For introverted clients, she recommends using nonverbal cues. A slow triple nod shows people you’re listening. Placing your hands in the steeple position, together and facing up, denotes that you’re calm and present.

Try coming up with one question you’re known for. Not a canned, hokey ice-breaker, but something casual and simple that reflects your actual interests. One of her clients, a bookish executive struggling with uncomfortable, halting starts to his meetings, began kicking things off by asking “Reading anything good?”

Embracing your stumbles

Charisma starts with confidence. It’s not that captivating people don’t occasionally mispronounce a word or spill their coffee, says Henna Pryor, who wrote a book about embracing awkwardness at work. They just have a faster comeback rate than the rest of us. They call out the stumble instead of trying to hide it, make a small joke, and move on.

Being perfectly polished all the time is not only exhausting, it’s impossible. We know this, which is why appearing flawless can come off as fake. We like people who seem human, Pryor says.

Our most admired colleagues are often the ones who are good at their jobs and can laugh at themselves too, who occasionally trip or flub just like us.

“It creates this little moment of warmth,” she says, “that we actually find almost like a relief.”


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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