The term garage simply does not do justice to the structure in New Canaan, Conn., created by TR Building & Remodeling in New Canaan. After all, the average American garage is about 400 sq. ft. and, although meant for the storage of two cars, often ends up as a catch-all for items homeowners don’t know what to do with. In Connecticut, however, this two-story, 1,300-sq.ft. garage houses up to five cars and comes complete with a wine cellar, a car lift, radiant heating, efficiency kitchen, sophisticated sound and light control systems, and more.
It’s much more than a garage.
Rick Krug, owner of design-build firm TR Building & Remodeling, describes it as a carriage house or the ultimate man cave. By whatever name, the structure is undeniably the work of a dedicated team that created entertaining space and a retreat with three main themes in mind: Cars, music and wine.
A car’s dream home
Krug’s existing relationship with the client from a previous project led to the development of a detached garage that doubles as a mancave-esque carriage house, as he describes it. “They gave me the general idea of what they were trying to do and gave us free rein to run with it,” recalls Krug. “They knew they wanted a rustic-looking barn, knew they wanted wood and knew they wanted some stone. We scratched the idea on a napkin, they liked it and we took it from there.” Design took approximately eight months, and construction about 13 months.
Maximizing the number of cars that could fit inside was important. Four fit above ground and one can be stored below ground, courtesy of a special lift. In its raised position, the lift is flush with the grade of the garage slab so a car can pull into it then be lowered below ground. At that point, a car can be parked on top of the lift, one on each side and one in the back of the cross-shaped garage. “It’s two cars deep in the center,” explains Krug.
Getting the lift area and the floor flush presented some design challenges and necessitated careful calculations. When the lift is in its lowered position, the client wanted to be able to walk straight into the wine cellar without having to step up. “When that lift comes up, settles and is flush with the floor, we wanted everything to be on exactly the same level so there were no steps anywhere,” he says. “The project manager and design team made it work.”
The car lift was a first for Krug. Plenty of steel went into the lift, which descends into the lower level, 11 ft. underground. The water table, however, was only 2 to 3 ft. below ground, making water management a necessary element of construction. “We had to create multiple water management systems to steer the water away from the finished underground area,” he says. “There’s a very elaborate pump and drainage system with backup batteries that is connected to a large generator.”
Chargers for the owner’s two electric cars and a soapstone farm sink etched with a Ferrari logo complete the vehicle area. The structure also is equipped with a sprinkler system, radiantly heated floors and is heated through a hydro air system, where air is forced over a hot water coil, heated, then distributed throughout the space.
The cedar-clad garage is located next to the yellow residence, which creates a strong visual contrast. Despite that difference, though, certain elements of the two buildings are consistent. The copper standing-seam roof on the house’s porch roof is weathered and dark in appearance. “We put a dark bronze standing-seam metal roof on the garage that ties in fairly well,” Krug says. The two buildings each sport copper gutters and have similar traditional divided lite windows. “Although they are quite different, they work well together,” Krug says.
In addition to constructing the garage, Krug and his team executed an elaborate hardscape plan, which includes patios, walkways and stone walls at the front and back of the house that tie in with the stone skirts around the garage’s perimeter.
A primary goal of this tricked-out garage is to provide a space on the property for entertaining. Outside, everything is connected via patios. “It’s very easy and inviting to get from the house to the carriage house,” says Krug. “Inside the carriage house, they have a stainless steel cable rail system to maximize your view from the mezzanine area down below to the cars; if they have a party, there are no visual obstructions. We also put in a smoke eater so if the client is having a party and there are guys smoking cigars, those smoke eaters will filter out the smoke and refresh the air.”
A lighting system and hidden speakers are weaved throughout the interior and exterior of the garage. Located on the lower level, the wine cellar is an insulated, conditioned space that keeps the wine chilled to 55 F. Up to 12 people can congregate in that space. “That whole area is set up as a big party zone,” Krug says.
The mezzanine level includes a reading nook with efficiency kitchen including a refrigerator, ice maker, dishwasher and soapstone countertop. The bathroom includes a urinal and remote-controlled washlet toilet; the mirror includes a built-in vanishing LCD television. A reclaimed pine ceiling, slate shower stall, distressed pine cabinets and pebbled stone floor combine to form a luxurious yet manly vibe, per the client’s wishes.
Krug describes this garage as a project that never gets old. “We’ve done some really sweet projects in the past, but you still tend to get sick of them after a while,” he says. “This is one that no matter who you bring over there, everyone is always just in awe of the space. Seeing the whole thing come to fruition from the original concept was pretty special.”