Room addition reveal: This two-car garage took a turn for the practical

I can’t write about home improvement, and what I’ve done to my childhood home, without admitting something outright: The room addition really is a two-car garage.

Many years ago, a contractor named Bullock made top-notch garages in the Quad-Cities area. This house’s garage is a Bullock.

So, not long after dad had his Bullock garage built, he decided to call Bullock again.

“Can you build me a two-car garage, but then can I just make it into a room addition?”

The answer was yes, and this 30×20 room addition was born.

With two boys ages 15 and 6, mom and dad wanted a dedicated dining room in the house, with a server pass-through to the kitchen, for the proper indulgence in large family meals.

My family had lots and lots of problems, but we always ate together for a meal, and we always had very good food to eat (a la meat and potatoes…no pop in the house ever, no chips).

So, adding a large room where everyone could gather for television, homework or guitar lessons (yes, my mom and I took guitar lessons, and we had them once a week on the floor of the front room) made perfect sense.

John Peaches

The old living room became the dining room we never had. I’m building up to that redo post, as that is (and always has been) my favorite room in the house.

Well, I’m fast learning to love them all the same!

Crimson and gold hues courtesy of a tip from Caroline Ruhl

Initially, my parents decorated that room addition in all the hottest trending colors – variations on an explosion of fall hues. In the 1970s, golds, red and oranges were all the rage. They often came together in Autumnal shag carpet patterns.

Peaches Chair

Peaches Heitz was a fixture at the venerable Heitz estate in the Redneck Ritz addition of Rock Island for many years. She died in 1991 and rests in the back yard. Here, you can get a feel for the cutting-edge decor of the room addition when it first was completed in 1976. Below, my redo of the spacious “front room.”

Front Room

The furnishings of the era similarly matched the 1970s confetti of earth tones.

When dad bought the house again, the carpet was a very tired and worn standard beige, the walls a very dirty-looking off-white. Everything was the same inside throughout (carpet and paint).

Interior colors not chosen simply for Rocky Pride

For my front room, I went with paint colors called “Spotlight” (the yellow) and “Robust” (the red). Actually, these colors run as a theme throughout the interior of my home.

I think a lot of people just assume I chose them because they represent “Rocky Pride” – our high school’s colors are crimson and gold.

But in fact, that’s not why I picked them.

Many years ago, while writing a column for the newspaper called “Ask the Times,” a reader wanted to know the best colors for painting a home. Period. Interior or exterior.

“Oh, that’s easy, yellow, or red, inside or out,” answered the always-helpful Caroline Ruhl when I gave her a ring on the telly.

The Ruhl name has been synonymous with excellence in real estate in the Quad-Cities for many decades.

I had QC General do the painting. In retrospect, I could have saved money and painted it myself. I only say this because I already am fantasizing about re-painting.

On the other hand, I’m glad the two rooms I did paint myself are the bedrooms, and almost nobody ever sees them.

Painting is hard work that requires much skill.

Flooring doesn’t come cheap

For flooring, I went with Long’s Carpet and Interiors. I found the experience of shopping for floor coverings rather aggravating. I came to the conclusion that there is no “great deal.” You get what you pay for.

But, you get value, too, at Long’s Carpet and Interiors. It wasn’t cheap, but it was quality so I didn’t mind the price. They put up with me going in there once a week for months. Very, very, very nice and decent people.

Same with the Loves.

Read more: Why I chose a metal roof for my home

When you find something you like, just get it. There is no “great deal” in flooring. I shopped over a year and changed my mind a thousand times.

Finally, the plush, grey carpet seen here (with very nice pad) cost just over $2,000 installed.

Furnishings a bit of a hodge-podge

Many people wonder why I did not invest in all kinds of new furniture when I got money from my dad and redid the house.

Well, traveling was a bigger priority. And I don’t regret that choice.

The leather couch and checkered brown/green chair came from Furniture Row shortly after dad bought the house again and we moved in together in 2012. The couch was scratch and dent. The dual recliner cost under $700.

The end tables are older than the hills. One of the end tables actually is original to mom and dad’s marriage. The others hand-me-downs my dad purchased from my Aunt Enid.

End tables

That book case is a Kmart original, circa 1980s. I really have had it that long. It stayed in my brother’s basement the entire time I was in Los Angeles.

And it goes without saying all the Pez dispensers are even older than that.


I decided to go without draperies throughout the house and just use valences and blinds. I see no use for draperies when I’ve got the blinds. I prefer either full light or none at all, most of the time.

Coming up: The “phone booth’ bathroom that was in dire need of an overhaul

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