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Chokio couple gets creative with new addition

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On the outside, it's a nice looking garage with neat trim and lights that resemble the old farm yard lights. The two-stall garage holds two vehicles for Bruce and Kris Quackenbush in Chokio, but a look inside shows the functional garage holds much more than vehicles.

The Quackenbushes expanded their indoor living space with the new garage and attached family room.

"We planned this for several years," Bruce said. The couple has three grown children and has grandchildren.

"We needed a little more space," Bruce said.

"There was no more adding on to our house," Kris said of the tan stucco home that sits near the new garage. "We had added onto the house many years ago," she said.

The couple considered adding a room above the new garage but thought of what they said was an even better idea to add a room at the end of the garage.

Although the family room is attached to the garage, the garage area is spacious and more than a garage.

The garage floor is a polished concrete with a center drain for easy clean-up. The walls are bright and functional and include several built-in shelves. The space has room for other floor shelves that contain items collected by Bruce over the years. The high wall shelves hold at least six pedal tractors, most of them red-colored.

The walls, shelves and floor shelves contain Case International and Farmall collector farm toys like a combine of the same make and model Bruce's family once used on the farm.

A wooden display case with a glass display top that comes from a former retail store holds a H.M. Quackenbush rifle. The rifle was made in New York by an ancestor of Bruce. A second rifle is a retirement gift from the Chokio Fire Department. Bruce recently retired after 29 years on the department.

The couple also made sure there was room for the jacuzzi inside the garage. Kris said the jacuzzi sat outside and was underused.

"Nobody liked going out in the snow," Kris said. The roughly 18-year-old jacuzzi gets much more use now, she said.

A ladder in one corner and tools on a table along a wall are signs that this is a working garage. But like many other pieces of furniture used to hold collectables or used to decorate the garage and family room interiors, there are stories behind them.

Bruce found the wood in a building on his great-grandfather's farm. It was rough wood, the condition of boards just as they are when cut from a tree log. He did some finishing work and the boards are the tabletop. The legs are old farm posts.

The garage has given the couple a recreation and gathering place. The Quackenbushes used the garage for a family Thanksgiving event. But, when a visitor walks through a door that connects the garage to a family room, they enter a different style of gathering place.

The large room holds two couches and a daybed, wall-mounted TV, a fridge and several shelves and cabinets.

Again, the Quackenbushes took items inside their home to decorate and furnish the family room.

Kris already had the spacious denim couches. "We wanted a fireplace, a snack area...and we wanted it big enough for the two sofas," she said.

Classen Construction built the garage and the room. The Quackenbushes designed both to incorporate what they had and what they liked.

A former stereo cabinet found at a thrift store serves as liquor cabinet. Kris used a ladder hung from a ceiling to hang lanterns and other items.

"We like to go to flea markets and antique stores," Kris said. They dug through "their stash" at the farm for different decorating items.

"We collect stuff nobody wants," Kris said with a laugh.

But the room and the garage fit their personalities and needs.

They like TV home improvement shows and they've found different ideas on those.

And it was also important the family room and garage were easy to clean.

Although they hired a contractor for the large jobs, Bruce and Kris were able to handle some of the finishing work themselves. Bruce built the fireplace using fireplace stones and installed the pine board walls in the family room.

He jokes that he graduated from youtube university because he found do it yourself videos on the internet.

They created a functional, comfortable garage and family room within their budget. The family room does not have running water or a sanitary sewer connection because of the cost of running a new line from the main line in the street, Bruce said.

But, that hasn't prevented them from using the family room nearly every night, and they've already used the building for a Super Bowl party and other functions.

Kris already has another idea for the garage. The couple used to belong to a dance club in the 1990s. Kris said it would be fun to have a reunion dance in the new garage.