His dream space

  • John Hopen's ultimate man space includes a three car garage with a back wall painted with murals for his Harley (with his wife Jessica) his ford Shelby GT500 and a space for the Ferrari he plans to buy after putting his kids through college. Retired corporate pilot John Hopen built his dream shop on his property near Freestone. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Attention all guys. If you had a Paul Bunyan-sized barn all to yourself, what would you fill it with?

John Hopen asked himself that question several years ago after retiring as a corporate pilot for companies like Nordstrom. He'd had enough, and wanted to dial back and start doing what he loved most. His interests were woodworking, music and cars.

So he set about building the ultimate workspace customized to his favorite hobbies. It included a woodshop that would be the envy of any carpenter, a recording studio, an office studio for business, jamming and watching a 60-inch flatscreen TV, and a garage for his dream driving machines.

Ultimate Man Space


"It's the ultimate mancave to me," he says of the shop, designed and built of sustainably harvested redwood to mimic a barn, complete with a double rolling barn door that is handy when milling large logs.

The barn fits neatly within the forested five acres that Hopen bought about nine years ago and looks out on a redwood ring that hides a fire pit for evening relaxing.

He enlisted Robert and Maben Rainwater, of Mission Hills Development in Sebastopol, to help design and build the 4,000 square-foot workshop — a 2,000 square-foot main "barn" for all his woodworking equipment and 2,000 square-foot wings on either side.

The Rainwaters have a particular passion for Arts and Crafts design and architecture, so it's no surprise that the workshop has a Craftsman look. One one side is what Hopen describes as his "toy cave for fancy things." That includes a shiny new Shelby Mustang and a Harley-Davidson. Each has its own garage door and parking space marked by a floor-to-ceiling mural with the logo of the maker. In between is an empty space for a Ferrari he hopes to buy when the kids are out of college.

"It represents my passion," he says. "Italian sports cars, American muscle cars and classic American motorcycles. Big-boy toys."

The opposite wing is a small, highly soundproofed recording studio and office for playing video games, watching sports and DVDs, and making music. Hopen plays both guitar and drums.

The center however, is the crown jewel, a woodshop filled with the best equipment, "Rolls Royce or A-minus" as he describes them, for milling, cutting and turning.

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