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Making your manor a man cave

It is a shrine to all that is brave and manful. A place where, yes, that stack of pizza boxes would make an excellent side table. Where a man can speak in exaggeration, without fear of being corrected. It is a day spa with chest hair. Where strange smells aren’t shunned, they’re celebrated.

I’m talking, of course, about the man cave. A rite of passage among college-aged men everywhere, the man cave represents much more than a simple hangout. Call it an allegory, the cave represents the first time a man is granted free rein over his own domain.

There are many approaches to man cave design, and men at the University run the gamut. From swanky pads brimming with plasma screens to spaces one could only describe as “collegiate,” Eugene has it all.

Two such caves occupy either side of the man cave spectrum.

On the west side of campus sits what University senior Jayson Hobby calls his own personal “Buckingham Palace.” @@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@On the other side of the campus, resting atop what many building inspectors would call a cracked foundation, resides the Agate House. Within its walls live six men who, with limited means and unlimited creativity, have crafted what they believe to be the ultimate man cave.

With two different spaces and two wildly different man cave philosophies, ask either group which hangout is better and the answer is always invariably, “mine.”

Ben Nelson, a University junior, is a two-year resident of the Agate House. He doesn’t like to call his space a man cave, but there is no other word for it. @@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&s=ben*[email protected]@

When you walk into the Agate House, the first thing you notice is the impossible number of couches and chairs. In 260 modest square feet, its residents managed to squeeze in four couches, two recliners and a coffee table.

“Let me introduce you to a little thing I like to call bunking,” Nelson says, kneeling down to point out the several sets of cinder blocks under one of the couches. Bunking, for the Agate House, means elevating an outside perimeter of couches above the rest, effectively making stadium seating a domestic reality. The Agate House has also elevated one recliner almost five feet, a perch they affectionately call “The Sky Box.”

It doesn’t look sexy, and it isn’t, but that’s not the point.

“We just want to be comfortable, and bunking helps us accomplish that,” says Marley Buchman, a roommate of Nelson’s. @@http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=508930976&[email protected]@

The couches outline a U-shape around the centerpiece of the Agate House man cave: the television. The TV is a behemoth at almost 60 inches. Stacked below it are three sets of Nintendo 64 systems. Buchman says they are for, “Epic ‘Smash Bros.’ tourneys.”

The Agate House has what one could consider decoration, but it’s nothing to write home about. A couple posters of scantily clad women hang off-center; a murky aquarium lodging two turtles lurks in the corner. Several holes adorn the walls, each a memento of good times and bad.

The Four Seasons Resort this is not, but what the Agate House lacks in amenities and cleanliness, it makes up for in character.

On the other side of the spectrum and across campus is Jayson Hobby’s “Buckingham Palace.” To reach this man cave, you must first climb a private staircase within his Mill Street home.

“It definitely makes it feel exclusive,” Hobby says, jokingly, as he climbs the stairs and unlocks the door.

Hobby’s cave doubles as his bedroom, which occupies the entire top floor of his house. The room itself is large, almost 400 square feet, and made up of several distinct sections.

The most captivating feature is unquestionably the bar. Standing tall in the right side of the room, Hobby’s bar is the stuff of legend. Custom built by the room’s former inhabitant, a fraternity president, the bar is constructed of dark wood and covered  in a shiny lacquer. It would feel at home in any uppity East Coast gentlemen’s club.

On top of the bar rests a set of turntables, which are heard through the two adjacent studio-monitor speakers.

“When we’re hanging out, somebody’s always DJing,” says Hobby, who works DJ gigs at local bars and clubs.

Below the bar, housed in a black mini-fridge, is a rotating stock of craft microbrews and ciders that would make any beer snob ogle in jealousy.

When Hobby and his associates grow weary of the bar scene, they wander to the center of the room. There sits an assemblage of mid-century modern couches and a black leather chaise lounge. In the middle of the arrangement, rising out of a custom stand, is a 46-inch LCD television. Nestled under the TV lay two of the latest game consoles, with a large collection of games to keep them company.

As you lay back on the chaise, your eyes begin to notice the decor that garnishes both sides of the steeply slanted ceilings. Laid out with calculated spacing and hung with care, the walls are decorated with all manner of vintage signs, concert posters and photography.

“This one’s my favorite,” Hobby says as he takes down an old Jack Daniel’s wooden sign with all the care of a museum curator.

After a long day of man caving (male spelunking?), it’s obvious there are different ways to go about creating your own. The question is, which side of the spectrum would you hang out in?

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