Fantasy Workshop at a Rural Sonoma Barn

Fantasy Workshop at a Rural Sonoma Barn

Designing his dream man cave wasn’t just about fun for John Hopen — it was about fulfilling a childhood fantasy. Having recently begun his own woodworking company, Hopen eventually had the means to produce the workshop he’d been imagining because he was a child fiddling with scrap timber.

With the assistance of Maben and Robert Rainwater out of Mission Hills Development, Hopen finalized the plans for his 4,000-square-foot workshop, garage, audio studio and office area. “John put on his tool belt and worked alongside us,” says Robert. “His enthusiasm about the job and being there with us was quite rewarding.”

The California Redwood Association

Hopen worked with Maben and Robert to select materials and a layout that would mimic his house and other structures across his Northern California property. Exterior redwood siding, grown and harvested sustainably, pays tribute to the surrounding forest. The interior of the structure was based on pure purpose ” [Hopen] gave us a napkin sketch of what he was thinking about, and out of that I went to work on the layout,” says Robert.

One of the project’s biggest challenges arrived before the first nail was struck: The team had to wait quite some time for the floor to become dry enough to begin building.

The California Redwood Association

Even though the workshop is principally about function, Maben and Robert did not need to skimp on personality. Angled roof overhangs to the main doors and big barn doors to the woodshop add a distinctive part to the barnlike frame. The traditional X layout on the woodshop doors takes to the garage doors on the other side of the building. Copper fixtures, window flashing, gutters and downspouts add a warm Arts and Crafts vibe.

Practicality was Hopen’s main priority, therefore the central portion of the shop was kept apparent from wall to wall. To add a architectural detail, three enormous trusses were constructed onsite to encourage the 28-foot span of the roof. Eight skylights work with the studio’s lighting system to illuminate the workspace.

Hopen uses this room to add hand-rubbed finishes along with other final touches to his carefully written pieces. A compressed air system through the entire structure forces pneumatic tools and a system that clears the atmosphere of sawdust.

A large wood storage room keeps supplies handy and secure from the outdoor elements.

Approximately eight years back, Hopen decided that he wished to pursue woodworking complete time, and started as an apprentice with a local artisan. Once he decided to set out on his own, developing a functional marathon immediately changed from a dream to a requirement.

“The layout and outfitting of the shop offers me a compact and effective workspace,” states Hopen. “If my business is to succeed, then I must have a really nice and functional workspace so as to facilitate my creativity.”

Obviously, no man cave is complete without a place to store present and fantasy vehicles. Three garage doors lead into three parking areas with plenty of wiggle room.

Hopen designed and painted the logos in his garage himself, with one slot because of his Harley and two slots for dream vehicles that he hopes to fill in soon.

The California Redwood Association

Smaller side doors lead to a music room, a wood storage room, a finishing room and a workplace.

The music room and workplace have yet to be finished, but Hopen still utilizes this space to play his guitars on his own and with friends. “I designed my ultimate man cave based on what my passions are,” he states.

Hopen has loved woodworking because he was five. His grandfather taught him how to use basic tools on straightforward pieces of wood. “I have been doing it one way or another my whole lifetime,” he states.

Exterior photos: The California Redwood Association

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