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A Custom Made
Model Room

by Scott Brown


Scott's Custom Made Model Room!


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When my lovely bride and I decided to take the home ownership plunge a while back, I was thrilled at the prospect of having my own "model room". Until then, we had lived in a variety of rented houses and apartments. I have modeled in closets, on porches and in rooms shared with my daughter, but nothing I could really call my own.

The plan we had built is a 3 bedroom with studio option. Perfect I'm thinking, I'll either get the studio or one of the bedrooms. When I broached the subject, I was politely informed that there were no plans for me to have a model room, thank you. We were going to have a "guest room"....I suppose for all those over night guests we entertain so often. My wife laid down the law, "you can take all that stinky stuff to the garage" I replied "But puddin', sweetheart, baby doll, it's really hot out there, and full of bugs....you know how I am about bugs" She nonchalantly says "so, build you a room out there"

Hmmmmm, intriging notion, except I'm totally inept at things involving hammers, nails and especially electricity. I went out into the garage and looked. I deduced that I could fit a room 12'x 8' in the corner, and still have room for the garage door to open and get 1 car in there. So, I'd need 2 walls and a ceiling.



I contacted a few contractors and was stunned at how much they wanted for such a project.

Okay, I have friends who constantly brag about being handy, we'll quaff a few beers, and toss up a couple of walls, I mean, how hard can this be? Now, the secret to things like like this, is to trick then into coming over, usually under false pretences. Then, all you have to do is stand there, looking forlorn, and the natural male instinct to completely take over a project will kick in. I started with my own family.

One weekend my parents were down. We headed off for the lumber yard, returning with a stack of 2x4s and some nails. I conned my father-in-law into coming over, and he just went insane looking at the mess we were about to make. Bingo, my first victim! He returned with an air compressor, a nail gun, and this other nail gun that shoots rifle cartriges. In no time flat, he had nailed a base directly into the concrete of the garage floor, and we had both walls and ceiling frames done in a few hours. Man, nail guns are magic!

Like all projects that I get involved in that are outdoors, this one was begun in June. The thought of hanging sheetrock in June in Houston made me want to die, so the rest was put off until the fall. Now, here was the tricky part. I know exactly squat about sheetrock, but I had 2 friends, Josh Bowling and Richard Kern, who claimed ultimate knowlege of things large and flat, like some mystic power, passed down thru the ages. The hard part was getting them both there at the same time. This was accomplished through sheer force of will, constant pestering and downright begging. I managed to get both of them there along with a pile of sheetrock, and off we went.

Very quickly we had the walls done, then came the ceiling. (BTW, in case you ever hire a couple of sheetrock gurus, it's a LOT easier if you start with the ceiling first.) After some very colorful language, the ceiling was done, and we had the whole thing sealed and caulked.

Childs play compared to the electricity, as it turned out.

Josh and I spent an entire evening, me at the breaker box, him at the light switch, yelling at each other. "OK, try it now!" "****, turn it off!" "OK, try it again!" "%%%%, shut it off!" Eventually, through blind luck I think, and 11 trips to the Home Depot, Josh managed to get it lined out without burning down the garage. He wired in a standard kitchen fluorescent light fixture in the ceiling, and I run a 110 v, 1,200 BTU window A/C unit, 2 sets of under counter fluoros and 2 desk lamps. I thought it would exceed the breaker capacity, but I haven't had any problems with it yet.



I used standard insulation in the walls. I thought I was going to have to insulate the top, but it is plenty insulated without it. On a 100 degree day, I can get the room to 68, and the temp will only go up 10 degrees in 3 hours. During winter, the room heats up rapidly with just a low power space heater. I thought about a ceiling fan, but there was no need.

I wasn't too picky about the finishing, I just sprayed stark white latex on the walls. The door came pre-hung from Home Depot, and I used a cheap carpet remnant, cut 12'x8' for the floor.

The entire project came in under $1,200, incl. the A/C unit. My only complaint so far is the lack of ventilation. That room is TIGHT, and fumes build up rapidly. So far, it's just a matter of opening the door for a few minutes, but soon I'm going to put in a bathroom vent.

My bench is a standard interior door mounted on 2 kitchen cabinets. The shelves are particle board on L brackets for the rear storage, the ones above my desk are from Container Store, but I needed to have them be sturdy because they have all my books on them. I have 2 magnetic tool holders mounted on the lower shelf, handy for keeping all the hemostats and files, scribers etc. out of the way. The paint racks are kitchen spice racks that look like steps.



It's very bright in there with the white walls and all that light. I've noticed that it is a lot less dusty than in my house. I am just thrilled with how it all turned out. Everybody is happy.

Now, I have taken some good natured shots at Rick and Josh, but truth be told, they did an outstanding job. You really find out who your friends are in an undertaking like this. I had a lot of people talk big, but when the rubber met the road, these guys made this thing happen, and not to sound too corny but I could not have done this without them. I want to extend my sincerest thanks and admiration to Josh Bowling and Richard Kern. I feel very fortunate to count you both as my friends.

Feel free to mail me if you have any specific questions. My hope is that this might solve somebody's similar problem. Josh and Richard work cheap.

Scott Brown


Scott's Custom-Made Model Room in Detail


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Text & Images Copyright 2003 by Scott Brown
Page Created 01 May, 2003
Last Updated 19 April, 2004

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