Robb Report Australia

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For the man of means, a bespoke space to call his own

Blame Batman. Arguably having the first true man cave, the campy ’60s TV series regularly saw its eponymous hero descend to a lavishly equipped subterranean lair, leap aboard his customised supercar and exit via a secret passage to fight evil-doers.

While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how influential this was on contemporary garage design in America, the movement in that country towards men using this area to create a personal space wasn’t lost on Adelaide-based designer Jayde Deverson, whose business, Deverson Garageworks (deversongarageworks.com) today specialises in doing exactly that.

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First to go, though, is that term: “I prefer bespoke garage interiors. Personally I don’t like ‘man caves’ as it seems to describe quite crass interiors without intelligent design. What I do is create spaces that are sophisticated, well thought out and stylish.”

And while other parts of the house may be suitable, stresses Deverson, given the scale required to house most collections, inevitably it will be the garage area that is chosen.

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Since its inception in 2010, Deverson’s company has designed and constructed two dozen such spaces and provided designs for a further dozen. Though the design concepts and the collections they house vary remarkably, Deverson notes that his clients share a common goal: “I think a space to find serenity is what they all want. Each also has a seating zone, inevitably equipped with a big, high-quality audio system.”

Beyond that, the only restriction is the owner’s imagination, Deverson working closely with each man (to date he has had no female clients) in bringing their dream to life. “There is no budget limit with many of these clients,” he says. “Currently, we’re working on a build that is a $1.5 million construction in a 740-square-metre space over two levels and the interior fit-out will be $350k on top of that.”

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Truly eclectic collections abound, Deverson recalling one client whose space featured a faithfully restored HG Holden Monaro, a whisky collection and fishing equipment. His 160 fishing reels were displayed in special wall units, with LED-lit cases reserved for the most valuable examples.

“He had about 30 bottles of whisky, purely collectable, ranging in age from 25 to just over 100 years old – he’d invested over $80,000 on that one bottle alone,” says Deverson. “There were eight central display units, each with a solid silver plaque engraved with a description of that whisky.”

Unsurprisingly, cars are a recurring theme. “One client wanted a Porsche garage that would hold eight cars. I designed the floor in Italian black-and-charcoal marble in a chequered pattern, and in one corner, for the sitting area, I used black, charcoal, white and deep-red marble with stainless steel inserts to create the effect of a Porsche speedo. We made six sumptuous armchairs with plush leather, much like Porsche upholstery, which were positioned evenly around the speedo. Suspended above this was a teardrop-shaped combustion heater.”

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Some spaces, though, are more about activity than appreciation. One of Deverson’s clients is Mark Jones, a retired engineer passionate about furniture design as well as restoring classic cars. His high-end workshop, pictured above and below, features fume extraction, compressed air and a full-size hoist. “I like things to look neat, tidy and professional, and it looks like that. It looks different to anything that anyone else has got and I get a kick out of that as well,” says Jones.

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“I like to drive my cars, I like to play with them; I don’t like to just sit there and look at them,” he says. To that end, any car in Jones’ space is moved elsewhere after he’s restored it. He’s “just about finished” a GT6 Triumph and “a 1967 Mini Cooper in total pieces” is next on the agenda.

Ultimately, though, whether you call it a man cave, bespoke garage interior or simply a space, what each offers its owner is far more than simply its contents. Jones again: “I can sit with a mate, have a beer and watch the cricket, and while I’m doing that I can be cleaning up a part or pottering around, so it’s a real sanctuary in that respect. “A lot of us are busy people, and for me that’s the shut-down time where you’re not thinking about work or anything else – you’re just thinking about then and there.”

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