Secret spaces – what would you do with yours?
We all need a little space of our own sometimes, somewhere to hide away, to escape from the everyday, or just to hide from the family.
It might be a man cave; a dark and musky space where hints of fire (pot belly, of course), combat (sporting, mainly) and good company (men with men doing manly things) pervade.
The modern man cave is a serious step up from the cold and damp garden shed, with its atmosphere of lawns mown and slowly rusting tools. There are no wobbly shelves knocked up from mismatched timber offcuts. It is a far more discerning space altogether. Where project spaces allow for the inner craftsman, musician or artist to glory in his (often acquired later in life) skill. Where conviviality is found in shared passions, and where the finer points of beer, whiskey, wine, footy, cars, cycling, business, yoga or anything really can be debated uninterrupted by reminders that it’s their turn to put away the washing.
This is a room that requires serious thought.
Man caves are on the rise as Nigel, Chris and the handy folk at Cabinet Maker’s Choice are finding. Homebuilders and renovators are planning these spaces at the start of the project, with orders for everything from music workshops to old-style dens, luxurious libraries and creatively kitted out workspaces. When done right, these in-home escapes can be a beautiful thing. The modern man caver is thinking of skilfully constructed quality cabinetry to house all that essential man stuff to TV units-come bars that evoke the finer points of Mad Men, the Godfather and New York man lofts.
In a word, it’s about style, and there are some very good reasons to encourage some serious style in your man’s man cave. Done well, it will be the kind of space he wants to escape to, which leaves you on the cosy lounge room couch with the remote for some peace, quiet and chocolate-fuelled binge-watching. It means those marathon footy dissections will also not be happening on your couch, or at least will be held there less often. And it might also mean a happier other half, and as the saying should go, happy hubby, less painful whinging and stinking up the place. It’s a win-win.
Consider too, at some point you might want to sell your home, and while you have those windows sparkling and every surface shining, an afterthought DIY man space with piles of miscellaneous junk (according to you, to him it is a priceless collection of rare and unique collector’s pieces) jumbled and threatening to topple off those open shelves is not doing you and your sale price any favours.
A thoughtfully designed space with plenty of clever storage and more than a little wow factor is a great asset to any home. And just think of the saving in divorce lawyers…
But why are we just talking man caves? Everyone should have their secret spaces – their get away from it all rooms. It might be a timber-lined study with bookshelves and the most deliciously-sink-in-and-smile comfortable chairs in front of a cosy fireplace. If it hidden away behind a cleverly concealed bookcase or wall panel, then all the better. The elements of surprise and delight in a home have timeless appeal.
It’s not just men who need secret spaces. What about lady caves? (Cough, nudge, giggle, keep it nice ladies, this is no laughing matter.) But seriously, we spend so much time and energy carefully planning every aspect of our homes, only to find we’ve created lots of beautiful shared spaces. That means the people you share your home with are around you All.The.Time. If you have kids or grandkids, even the toilet isn’t a quiet alone space. What is the point of having me time if you have to have it with your family around you?
I’ve been planning my very own secret space for some time now, adding details into what I can only hope will one day become a fully-fledged me-space. I have two boys who will, all too quickly, turn into teenage boys, which is why my space is called The Panic Room. It will ideally live above the garage and abound with small space cleverness like a bed on smoothly sliding tracks that slides to reveal a concealed spa. The bench top of the small kitchenette would swing around to reveal a tastefully stocked bar. Every wall would be lined with bookshelves, and luxuriously soft chairs that have never been assaulted by a fresh from the sporting ground boot would be nestled in front of a cosy fire. The windows would be double or triple glazed for soundproofing and there would be a separate entrance, security linked to an in-room intercom, so my besties can come and escape their families too. Then we could all have fun toasting the sunset on the Juliette balcony before returning inside to occasionally bellow across the one-way intercom at the hormone-fuelled beasts roaming the house below to put their socks in the wash and have the joy of not being able to hear their moaning, sulking replies. Not that I’ve given it that much thought…
What would you do with your secret space? We might know a few people with some good ideas.
Words, Davina Montgomery, Ruby Magazine, Winter 2016.