What do you want your personal getaway space at home to be? A "man cave"? A "she shed"? Or just simply a getaway space for both?
Brittany Orth, an interior designer at Castellano Custom Furniture in Portland, Oregon, says that man caves and she sheds are a form of self expression, and husbands like to express themselves freely and design their man caves as they envision them without input from their wives. Mike Yost, founder of The Official Man Cave Site and author of The Man Cave Book and Cave Dweller Magazine, puts it this way. “When men get married, most of their personal possessions get boxed up and put into storage,” he says. “Man caves give men a place to bust open those boxes and display those forgotten artifacts from high school, college and the military, etc.”
But, wait a minute! It’s 2015, and Curbed LA recently questioned the proliferation of man caves and she sheds, asking, “Does your personal space need to be gendered?” A recent post on LifeBuzz called gendered living spaces “ a somewhat unfortunate trend” and described she sheds as “miniature, frilly living rooms, where ladies can do lady-things.’”
To Share or Not to Share
Behind the differing opinions (and the somewhat ridiculous terms themselves) lies an interesting question. Can you and your partner do the personal things that you each like to do in order to relax in the same space, no matter what you call that space?
Orth thinks the answer is yes. “Personally, I’d design a getaway space for both outside the home,” she says, “a gender-neutral shared space like a yurt tucked away in the back yard where my husband and I could escape for relaxation, I could meet with girlfriends over a glass of wine, or the boys could hang with their beers.”
Are homeowners asking for separate personal space? Men do so more often than women, says Adrienne Mascaro, ASID, owner and design principal of the Venice, California-based boutique design firm, Studio Blu. In the case of Mascaro’s clients, who are high-end professionals, the man often wants his own man cave, music studio or gym (one client requested a massage and meditation room), while the woman usually doesn’t, although some of Mascaro’s female clients have created an arts and crafts room or a wrapping room (set up for a holiday shopper to come in and wrap presents).
Mascaro says that, instead of creating a separate female space, women like to impress, showing off their beautifully decorated living rooms to their friends by hosting a book club meeting or other social gathering. And these living rooms often don’t get much use otherwise because the family spends most of its time in the family room.
Making Space Work as a Couple
Colorado-based homeowners Jeanne and David Bruni are both professionals with demanding jobs at the executive level, and Dave has had a man cave in the garage for approximately 10 years. “It was a good idea for our relationship,” Jeanne says. “Although we have a lot of common interests, we have some separate interests and mixing those is not as comfortable nor does it give us as much enjoyment.”
Jeanne relaxes by makes jewelry (spreading out beads and equipment on large, flat spaces in the family room) and watching HGTV whereas Dave invites the guys over to watch sports on TV, cheer enthusiastically and smoke cigars (hence the man cave in the garage). The kitchen is where Dave and Jeanne spend time together cooking and hosting friends and family. “For us, it’s all about the things we like to do together, and we do those well,” Jeanne says.
Almost any extra room or alcove can work as a getaway, depending on the functions it needs to accommodate. Browsing floor plans is a good way to start thinking about the where and the what, from a bonus room over the garage, as in Plan 120-189
to what SALA architects and Sarah Susanka call the "Away Room" off the living room
in their Life Dream House Plan 573-2
, above, to a mud/laundry/hobby room near the kitchen as in Plan 48-642
(this example has its own refrigerator, so it also works as a cold pantry)
to a recreation room with built-in bar or kitchenette as in Plan 48-651
Whether you create a man cave, a she shed, or a gender-neutral yurt in the backyard, choose what works best for you and your family, gives you the most fun and enjoyment, and provides that retreat you need to recharge your body and soul.