Fuck the term “man cave”. I hate the man cave for so many reasons. First of all, man caves seem to be part of heteroterrified bro culture. They spend all this time watching dudes in spandex play cuddleball on Sunday afternoon, but can’t tell their friends they love them. Miss me with that man cave shit. You’re not a bear, Scott, you don’t live in a cave. And if you were a bear, it’d be a totally different thing and you’d probably kill yourself in the garage cuz you haven’t been touched affectionately by another man since your Dad’s last hug in 1993.
The den is where it’s at though (also, somehow even more bear themed?). When you’re a kid, there is something dark and dank about a den. Something forbidden about a playroom for adults only. It’s where all the best technology is kept. TVs, Hi-fis, video games, computers, fuck. Dens are cool as hell. It’s where the most comfortable couches tend to reside.
I don’t drink alcohol but I love bars. I love bars for the same reason I love dens. I love a dank space. I love a room that is meant to be dark and cozy and a little dangerous. Even though 90% of what goes in in a den is farting in an old couch and eating stale chips – there was always something decadent about a good den. It is, by it’s very nature frivolous. The living room is your Dad, a proper place to spend your time and meet with guests.
But the den is the Bachelor Uncle. It’s essentially redundant as you already have a living room. But the den is where the cool shit is. It’s not the room you talk about. It’s something guests might only catch a glimpse of before you pull the door closed.
The living room is your Facebook page, all curated and outward facing. It’s who you want the world to think you are. But the den is your late-night google searches for back-alley medical advice and highly specific, niche pornography.
I think the thing that draws me most to dens, and why I prefer them to “man caves” is the freedom they allowed the resident of the house. It makes sense to make the other rooms of your house functional and pedestrian. But the den was the one room it used to be seemingly okay being a little eccentric with. You want a nautical themed room? Do it up, Cap’n. You an outdoorsy type who wishes he lived in a cabin, even though you’re a middle manager at an industrial supply company? I can’t wait to see your log based furniture and low-quality taxidermy.
The den is a dying space in homes as we move towards more eco-conscious, smaller homes. And it makes sense to not have a redundant room that is dark and weird where you can actually feel like yourself. One of the reasons I write this blog is because, ultimately, the den was a symptom of a larger problem. A feeling that you had to hide away who you really were from the rest of the world in a weird secret room that no one else was allowed into.
Dens are important because, I feel, your whole house should be a den. Your whole house should feel like you and be full of your favorite and best stuff. Live your best life as loudly as possible and fuck the white wall.
Let’s have a good week.