Manly Design Blog

As a regular guy who writes about architecture and design, I am something of an enigma wrapped in a riddle. When I go to press openings at design functions I’m usually the only guy in the room besides the interior designers who are mostly, well, you know, designer types, which is totally cool because their taste is impeccable, otherwise they wouldn’t be, you know, designers.

Anyway, this week and next week I’m working on two different features for two different magazines about “Manly Spaces.” What do you think they are? If you guessed, basements, attics, and garages you are correct although two of the rooms are actually on the first floor inside the main house. One of these is a pool room built by a currently single friend of mine, the other is a home office conceived for a local host of sports talk radio program.

My other interview subjects for the articles include an NFL running back, a banker, and various entrepreneurs. The look of the spaces of are all over the map. One guy, who’s also single, has a full size cocktail lounge in the basement complete with, um, a certain apparatus used by certain kinds of dancers.

There’s plenty of TV lounges, a home theater, lots of work-out gear and a sauna. There’s framed sports jerseys, team logos painted on walls, baseballs in little glass cases and actual seats pulled out of Tiger’s Stadium.

Another guy who’s heavily into collecting things, has built a series of out buildings ringing his swimming pool. Inside the buildings are dozens of full size pinball machines and arcade style video games. He also had a whole shed full of Warhammer action figures set up on walls and walls of glass shelves. Yeah. I don’t get it either.

Since I am a sensitive, design-savvy guy, I’ve asked myself questions like, “How does this make me feel?” “How come most of the guy spaces are not in the main part of the house” and “Why do I spend a good chunk of my alone time in the garage or sitting on the back deck?”

During the various remodeling projects we’ve had at the house I’ve been heavily involved with strong opinions about how things should look. My wife doesn’t consider this to be “having design savvy” so much as “being a control freak.” The point is I like design and I think most guys do. Think about automotive design – guys like cars, ugh. Think about a well designed screen pass in football – guys like sports, ugh.

Apparently we also like pool tables, stripper poles, pinball, drinking and television. Come to think of it, there is a TV and beer fridge in my garage. The house was put together with help from architects, designers, builders, tradesmen and the wife. The garage was not. I sit in there and look around at the clutter imagining where it could go in order to make room for um, well… A bigger TV and maybe the old pick-up truck I want to buy. But we’d have to move the ping-pong table too. Guys like design – ugh.

Scott Sowers

Manly Basement


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