‘Man caves’ can have uses for whole family

By Cathy Hobbs


Dens are often designed to be “man caves,” but that doesn’t mean they can’t be family-friendly, too.

Regardless of the size of your den, it is possible to create an appealing space that can be enjoyed by every member of the house. Think of it as a retreat: a place to read, a quiet office, an alternative playroom for the kids, plus a place to watch movies and the big game.

Start by making the space gender neutral, using a mix of bold and soft colors. Blend deep chocolate browns or black with softer colors such as lime green, powder blue or even lavender. Want a brighter color? Try incorporating a cheery citrus color such as lemon yellow.

Begin to use color: Layer your color using different shades of the same color, then carry the color through to the accessories and furniture. Love the look of wood? Select woods like walnut with a lot of yellow undertones, which will also help to lighten a space.

Find colorful accessories: To add color and texture, incorporate toss pillows or accent pieces such as pottery or pillows. Nubby pillows and soft, thick area rugs such as shag introduce texture and visual interest.

A tall vessel filled with lemons or limes is a quick and easy decorative tip for a dining or coffee table accent.

Lighten up: One reason dens tend to have that heavy "man cave" feel is the tendency to fill them with dark, overstuffed furniture, which adds visual weight to a space.

When designing a den that makes the whole family feel welcome, mix light and heavy materials. An overstuffed leather couch looks great, but soften it up with a toss pillow or throw.

Don’t make the room all about the electronics, either. Design it to feel more like a “retreat.” Here’s where a “soft” color such as off-white, cool gray, soft lavender or a rich taupe can provide a visual break from the wall of black screens and displays.

An accent wall: Consider painting one wall in your den an accent color. A single wall splashed with a bold color creates a focal point without overwhelming the rest of the room. Accent colors not only add interest but can also help to define a space architecturally. Some of my favorite colors for accent walls are medium/warm yellows, rich off-whites, and citrus colors like green, yellow or orange.

With the right mix, the “man cave” can still feel like home for the whole family.