Once a person falls in love with the fantastic world of classic vehicles, expressions for that passion may grow boundlessly.
Rick Burke took his classic car creativity way beyond four wheels; he transformed his boring basement into a 1950s wonderland, drawing on inspiration from the neighborhood and his business.
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"Over the years I saw a lot of rock 'n' roll diners and drive-ins. Finally, I decided I would love to have a basement just like them," the Inverness resident said.
Major construction began in 2003 and just six short months later, Rick had a downstairs ready for a proper rocking sock hop. His hobby may be classic cars but his occupation is steel stud framing and drywall, giving him a significant advantage over the average homeowner.
"I framed the basement myself and curved the soffit around the duct work,' said the handyman. The end result is a cool wavy wall that hides more custom touches. "I wanted lighting around the basement ceiling and walls so I added a recessed bead to hold rope lighting, which flowed nicely with the curved soffit." Thinking ahead, Rick added outlets high along the walls, allowing him to power the red lighting and to yield maximum control over their functions. "I like being able to build my own basement because I was able to add things that you wouldn't normally get elsewhere from other builders."
With the floors and walls complete, Rick set about adding in loads of unique vintage items. The centerpiece is a section from an iconic rolling relic normally found parked elsewhere than above a fireplace hearth. "I purchased the rear fenders, bumper and all the trim and badges from a 1957 Chevrolet with this idea of using them for a custom TV stand." It took three months of assembly and paint but not only was Rick able to get the Detroit-inspired mantel to accommodate a big screen television, but also wired the rear taillights to illuminate. The auto furniture doesn't stop there: mag wheels serve as the base for end tables and a curio-cabinet containing model cars is fashioned out of a 1957 Chevy hood. A corner booth is overlooked by wall art fashioned out of parts from Rick's garage. "I used a Corvette front end and a '57 Chevy beauty bar leftover from actual cars I've owned." Naturally, the turn signals in the bumper element light up, for added ambiance.
No Fifties' setting would be complete without period tunes and a Wurlitzer jukebox that Rick's wife Nancy gave him for his 50th birthday stays busy cranking out their favorite yesteryear melodies.
The cozy space isn't just relished by the car-loving couple as they enjoy inviting family and friends to enjoy it as well. "Guests will always linger for hours taking in all the details." And whether they've seen it or not, return trips are always a must. "It's never truly completed. Every year I add a little more if I find something special that catches my eye."