The best thing about our three-car garage is that there's a house attached.
It's like having two houses: one for my daughter and me, and another for my husband and his two mistresses.
My marriage is nontraditional. I accept that my husband has other lovers, as long as they don't come inside the house, and I mean no signs of them whatsoever. No dirty smears or stains, no sounds, no screaming, no beer cans, no queso dip, no smells. Eww, the smells.
I live happily in an open marriage with my husband and his love affair with his Volkswagen Bus, named Donna, and his NFL team, the Detroit Lions.
Yes, a 45-year-old vehicle that I think runs on an antique steam engine, and the worst football team since that one Thanksgiving I played flag football in heels and chiffon dress while carrying a glass of red wine.
My husband must be a masochist. Both his mistresses are needy, expensive and abusive. They are reliable only in that they will always let him down. Donna regularly steals him from me for weeks at a time. And more than half the year, I am a football widow.
His Fake Football draft is today, which means I am single until the Lions make it to the Super Bowl because "it's our year!"
My husband has meticulously organized his garage into the perfect livable man space, a flatscreen TV (twice the size of the one in our living room) mounted on the wall, across from his recliner. One single recliner. If you want to join him. (You don't. He cries a lot.)
To the right: his drawing table (he's an artist), but it really just holds his lineup of dips. To the left: his workbench, where I put the many things I break all of the time for him to fix. Within reach sits Donna, so when the mood or need strikes, he can enjoy a ménage à trois underneath his Bus while still enjoying the Lions' tight end. (Don't blame the innuendos on me. I hate the game.)
Like any 21-year-old guy, even though he is 31, the kegerator covered in colorful stickers looms nearby, packed with only the extremes: cheap PBR and $8-a-bottle craft beer.
There are other cabinets and shelves, plus a taxidermy hammerhead shark, but I avoid going into the garage unless my section of the living space is actively in flames and death is imminent.
Our garage is why we are happily married. I can't imagine happily-ever-after without it.
All of that said, garages are often underutilized and shamefully disorganized. We neglect them, disrespect them and decorate them with boxes of junk and spiderwebs. We rarely treat them like an extension of our homes, which they are.
Because garages are typically small, you have to be strategic about what you store there and how you store it, says Liz Byrne, a professional organizer in Boulder with Alchemy of Order (alchemyoforder.com).
"Think about the pathways you use in your garage," she recommends.
For example, where should you store the trash bins for maximum efficiency? Many people store the bins by the garage door, but storing them near the house allows for regular dumps, whereas you take them to the curb only once a week.
Byrne also recommends keeping the items you use outside (sporting equipment, gardening supplies) in the garage. But not your camping gear.
"The average 'camper' camps 12 days a year," she says. "Do not keep camping equipment in prime real estate in your garage."
She also advises using the walls (a pegboard or Monkey Bar storage system) for more frequently used items, and shelving and overhead cages for less-used items.
Then there is David Rogers, of Boulder. He is a master builder who specializes in custom-designing garages that are more beautiful than most people's living rooms.
He recently transformed a Lafayette garage from a cluttery jumble of things and stuff into a vision of cherry-and-white elegance, complete with custom cabinetry raised off the floor on metal legs, so you can still hose out the road salt in the winter without ruining the wood. Add a built-in stainless steel fridge, cabinets deep enough to enclose golf clubs and skis, two TVs with separate receivers, a polished and stained cement floor and a wine chiller, and you've got (OK, I have) a jealous husband.
"It's a very unique space," Rogers says. "You can hang out, have a beer and shoot the breeze with the boys and work on your car, if that's what you do."
The owner of this magical garage (who did not want her name used) probably doesn't spend much time with grease on her nose. The garage houses her new Maserati, says her friend Karen Wilkie, of Boulder.
Wilkie says she rents a home in South Dakota to a man who picked it for the ample garage space, while another friend has a small ski shop set up in his garage, where he polishes friends' skis and snowboards.
"People are always redoing their bathrooms and their kitchens," Wilkie says. "But when we talk about improving our homes, garages are often overlooked."