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Living Smart: Man caves for Father’s Day

If you want to give Dad a non-traditional gift for Father’s Day — we’re talking about skipping the ties, cufflinks and socks, here — consider giving him the gift of his own, personalized space; his “Man Cave.”

Diane Haignere, an interior design consultant with Ready Set Redesign in Columbus, Ohio, said she’s had a lot of homeowners inquiring about man — and Mom — caves in recent years, as more adults seek out areas of the home they can exclusively call their own.

“Everybody’s reason is different,” Haignere said. “Usually, the theme is a separate place to watch TV; a separate place to entertain their buddies; a game room. It’s just the guys’ getaway room that they can make their own.”

A review of reports on Angie’s List found homeowners creating rooms centered on their favorite sports teams; designing a home theater area, or changing an area of the home to a workshop, office, fitness area or game room.

“You have to create a plan,” Haignere said. “What does Dad want to use this space for and who does he want to use the space? For example, (a recent) client does a lot of big-game hunting, so he wanted a place to put his big game heads, antlers and things like that. He also wanted a place to watch TV away from the other girls (in the house). He also has a bible study (group and wanted) a place to bring the guys down for bible study.”

Ron Blaski of Tailored Living featuring PremierGarage, a storage and space-saving solutions company in Atascadero, Calif., said he routinely gets requests to turn garages into man caves where Dads can work on their classic cars or just hang out and watch TV. Blaski’s company creates a computerized three-dimensional design of the layout before implementing the plan.

“They come to us and say, ‘I’d like a pool table here; a big screen TV there; a bar set up over here,’” Blaski said. “We measure everything out on the computer and go through with their ideas. We can place a pool table, TV, etc. in the picture to achieve what they’re actually looking for with a 3-(dimensional) design.”

Creating a man cave can be a major undertaking with tens of thousands of dollars invested, or it could be a simple project many families can tackle themselves with a little time and creativity. Haignere said she often looks to incorporate personal items that have a special meaning to the person into their sanctuary.

“The key for a man cave — or in any design — is to surround yourself with things that make you feel good; that inspire you; that you love,” she said.

If you’re hesitant to actually commit to such a large gift, the design itself might be what Dad unwraps. He’ll have a chance to modify it later, if he wants.

Bringing in a design consultant, like Haignere — who typically charges hourly and flat rates — can help homeowners planning such a room avoid making costly mistakes during the design process.

“I always hear the comment, ‘I would have never thought of that,’” Haignere said. “If I’m making a recommendation that is not resonating with a person, then go to Plan B. I have a million decorating solutions for every situation. It’s just honing in on what makes sense to the homeowner. When I walk out the door, people have a plan to implement whatever their time and budget will allow.”

Angie’s List also consulted with some top-rated designers nationwide to offer their tips on creating a special place in the home just for Dad.

—Get some ideas from Dad and map them out: Find out how Dad envisions using his man cave. Next, be sure to plan out the space you’ll need to fit his wishes. It could be a costly mistake down the road if the space isn’t properly planned.

—Ask the experts: A good designer or consultant can help you plan and implement your ideas. Designers can envision space and offer outside-the-box input that get homeowners thinking about different options, which many times work better — and are more affordable — than their initial concept.

—Share your ideas: When you contact a designer, have a few ideas for how you envision the room, including furniture, window coverings, special themes, flooring, etc. That will make it easier for the designer to present you with a more detailed plan before the room is done. Let the designer know your budget limitations.

—Adding electronics? Get it right: Does Dad want a high-definition television or plasma? There’s a variety of electronics options, so make sure you know what features he wants most. Your home theater sales rep should be well-versed enough to explain the differences and help guide you in purchasing exactly what Dad wants. When in doubt, a gift certificate is a good option.

—Small budget? No problem: Good design does not have to be expensive. A good designer will help you to stay within your budget, knowing where to spend a little extra to get the most punch and where you can cut a corner to save a little. Many designers offer discounts on some new items purchased. Also, consider shopping at garage sales, thrift stores or searching an online auction for used items to fit your theme.

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