Create Your Own Man-Tuary

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Sometimes, we need a place that makes us feel comfortable, centered and manly. But the idea of a man-cave—a dimly-lit room filled with mini-fridges, sports memorabilia and possibly a scratched up billiards table, where men go to recreate their college years—has got to go. As imagined by famed Toronto designer Damon Snider, here’s how to inject a little classy masculinity into three rooms of your house, without going too hard with the testosterone.

A den built for a guy (and his guests)
The problem: You need a place to unwind after a long day at work, but don’t want to isolate yourself.
The solution: Turn your common area into a place where you and others would like to hang out.

1. Sit on some cash
As a rule, never be cheap with the couches and other seats if you can afford it. Sure, that couch is where you’ll sit as you interact with others, but it’s also where you might end up for the night after an argument with the lady—that alone might be worth the investment. Keep them monochromatic and skip leather for suede, which can add a softness to the room that will appeal to both genders.

2. The not-too-little things
Size is what separates decoration from knick-knacks. Make each piece of stylish decor appear to be a conscious decision on your part. A large floodlight, oversized Indian tea boxes from your travels, a bold typeface lightbox—they all should appear distinct and with purpose, never hiding among a clutter of small things.

3. Sex appeal
Speaking of decor, if the only thing in your living room that could be described as “sexy” is your rug, that’s a problem. Classy images of the fairer sex are always a winner, as long as you find something both that your girl and guests won’t mind seeing every time they enter the room. Something along the lines of Marilyn Monroe pop art prints trumps pin-up posters.

The garage—a home away from home
The problem: You need a place to get away from it all.
The solution: Create a pristine design space where you can turn your ideas into reality.

1. De-clutter
When making over a garage, guys tend to think more is better—and they couldn’t be further from the truth. The garage is a sacred space for work, NOT a storage space. To keep things minimal and free of clutter so your creative juices can flow, store loose items in cases you don’t mind showing off, like tool boxes or antique chests. Not only will they free up floor and wall space, but they’ll look damn good doing it.

2. Give everything a purpose
As a rule of thumb, if it is useful, it will be used. Again, you will decrease clutter, but you’ll also know that there’s a place where you can find solutions to many of the small problems that can mount up over the course of a day. Knowing how to use a variety of tools will also give you a boost of confidence every time you walk into your space, creating a great comfort zone.

3. Do-it-yourself decor
If you do decide to add decoration to your gentleman’s garage, rather than nailing up old license plates, stick with an aesthetic of reused accent pieces and other things that complement the area’s functionality. A sawblade banner, refurbished workbench, or reclaimed wagon wheels create not only a lived-in feel, but a worked-in one. Vintage signage is also a way to incorporate that timeless look.

A dining area fit for a king
The problem: Meal time has gotten boring.
The solution: Consider building a room or area where it’s all about the food and good conversation.

1. Invest in a big table. No, bigger.
Where else are you going to find space for big slabs of meat, 55-pound turkeys and, for you of the vegetarian persuasion, giant stock pots of hearty bean chili? Toss out that wimpy IKEA table for two and put some cash into a table that can comfortably sit the population of your home, plus two or three more. Knowing you have the ability to entertain is great; having extra elbow room when you get down to business is even better. On top of that, know it is truly an investment: tables stick around for generations, and can be stripped and re-stained if the mood strikes.

2. Give them something to look at other than the food
There’s a reason restaurants put effort into ambience: it sets the mood. An interesting centre piece like a wrought-iron tractor wheel chandelier won’t detract from your conversation, but it and other low-key industrial accents will give it a certain masculine edge.

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