A Guide to Personal Spaces: Retreat Rooms, Zen Dens, and Man Caves

It is important for people to have a space where they feel comfortable and inspired. If you are lucky enough to be able to dedicate a room in your home to such a purpose, here are a couple of details to consider.

Function
Ultimately, function is the most important and guiding principle of your personal room. Is it a place to escape the chaos and just relax or somewhere to blow off steam? Do you need a space that allows you to be creative and focused or just a quiet room to get some work done? Whatever it is that you want out of your space, consider how to incorporate those details into your design.

Furniture
Regardless of the intensions for your space, furniture selection will dictate how you use your room. If you plan on having visitors to your “cave”, centrally located furniture lets them know they are welcome. On the other hand, if this space is just for you, a desk, drafting table or hobby table can personalize the space to suit your needs. Of course, there’s always the possibility that you are limited to the old sofa and chair that didn’t sell at the garage sale.

Lighting
Lighting can vary depending on your goals for the space. Relaxing den? Try dimmer, amber lighting reminiscent of the sun going down. Personal bar? Neon lights, backlit clocks and bright white bulbs will keep the energy and the beer flowing. Study or office? Lamps can be placed by reading chairs or on desk tops to suit your needs. You may want to consider brighter lighting for a hobby room or workshop.

Sign
The sign for your space is similar to a border between two sovereign states. It is an indication that you are about to cross into a new territory with its own rules. While maybe not the most important feature, your sign can set the tone and atmosphere within. It can come in the form of an inspirational quote, a striking image or even a straightforward declaration of rules. What message would your sign convey?

My “cave” would be somewhere I could go to write or read a book. Of course, I can do either of those things anywhere, so this would be a space that “encourages” those activities with minimal distractions. It would require a desk, desk chair (for writing), lounge chair (for reading), bookshelves and maybe a chalk wall to jot down ideas. A napping couch and mini bar would be bonuses, but may prove to be too tempting too often. Lots of natural light and scattered lamps for a softer localized illumination would best suit my personal room.

Here’s what my room might look like. What would yours look like?

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