Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of outdoor hangs, which also means more time in your yard. So how do you maximize a small backyard? In the case of Mark Tierney of Minneapolis, add a built-in bar off your garage.
"If you only have a little space you can tie these things together," he said. "It doesn't have to look like a garage from the backyard."
Tierney decided to rebuild his garage, which had a DIY bar attached to it. This time around, he threw in all the bells and whistles to create the next iteration of Harry's Bar, named after one of the family's golden retrievers that died.
Tierney enlisted Christopher Strom Architects to create a garage/bar that could serve double duty: store the family's cars as well as host backyard soirees. Tierney also wanted the structure to mirror his Lowry Hill turn-of-the-century brick house — something he said the existing detached garage lacked.
"The garage was probably in the '50s. It was a really low-cost garage with fiberboard slat walls," he said. "I wanted the garage to look like it was part of the original house that was 120 years old. To me, this would not be a typical construction project of a garage, this was an art project."
Bricks and tracks
In paying tribute to the original house, matching the Roman bricks proved to be the biggest challenge. Architect Christopher Strom said few places make the long, narrow bricks today. "It's beautiful, but it's quite expensive," he added.
But with some creativity and the help of local artisans, they found a practical solution.
They bought utility bricks, twice as tall as the originals; then general contractor Welch Forsman cut each one into Romanesque-style pieces. Working with Dan McMillan Masonry out of St. Paul, the team carefully layered bricks of varying lengths in a coursing pattern.
"We literally drew every brick on to see how they would line up before we started," Strom said. "Traditionally when they would put on the brick, they would put it on first because the brick was the structure. These days the brick is a veneer, so we built the whole thing by a wood frame structure and then put the brick on last."
Other nods to the main house include custom garage doors that resemble the home's tuck-under barn doors. Long and narrow in appearance, the doors are accented with old-timey handles that Tierney scored at an antique store.
For Harry's Bar, Ingrained Wood Studios millwork shop created a mahogany rolling screen with custom steel brackets on tracks and counterweights making it easy to open and close.
"It's kind of like a garage door track, but it's a wood track and there are cables that are hidden," Strom said. "It would be really heavy to open otherwise. We wanted to make something that was movable, but not fussy."
Antique and found objects
Tierney, a collector of salvaged and found items, wanted some of his prized possessions with local references woven into the project.
Reclaimed pieces include a curved glass and mahogany wall divider originally from the former Juster Brothers downtown Minneapolis men's store that Tierney found at Architectural Antiques. The dividers now serve as the bar's backdrop, closing off the view of cars and clutter on the other side.
For years, Tierney had been hanging onto ornamental wrought iron panels he scored at Bauer Brothers Salvage in Minneapolis. The intricately designed panels were pieced together with the help of a welder and used as accents on the garage.
"It's kind of an unusual installation, but it really lightens up the building because, otherwise, it would kind of look like a big vault," Strom said. "I think it's a nice way of adding a finer grain detail to the building."
These days, Tierney enjoys having neighbors and friends over to hang out at Harry's Bar.
"It's created this inviting courtyard," he said. "Because the yard is small, you're making use of this wall that's not just the wall of your garage, but you can actually occupy it."
For friend, former neighbor and Harry's Bar regular Leon Hushcha, who stopped by on a recent evening, the quaint environment means he rarely walks away without having had a great conversation. "It's a very intimate space," he said.
Friend Maggie Romens agreed.
"It's like 'Cheers,' but way better," she said. "Because it's outdoors, it's in the elements."
Tierney appreciates that, despite being shiny and new, the garage/bar design makes it seem as if it had been there all along.
"It looks like it's from the early 1900s when the house was built," Tierney said. "To me, that's what makes it so special."