The concept's not new — a place in the house that's all your own. There are even names for them: the interior sound-absorbing "man cave" for the husband, and the backyard peace and quiet "she shed" for the wife.
But some home organizer promoters and experts on personal space argue that solitary rooms are losing their exclusivity and are becoming places that the kids, guests, relatives, actually most anyone pile into.
That's brought about a new type of escape area, maybe as small as a nook or former nursery room, that a woman or man flees to for some undisturbed minutes.
Shannon Dauphin Lee, a journalist in Pennsylvania writing in Builder Direct four years ago, called it a "getaway room." More recently, California-based Closets by Design coined the term "Me-Cave."
"Have you ever thought about a getaway in your own home? Sometimes you just need the space to breathe, relax and hide away from it all," says Lee, who acknowledges a "serious weakness for real estate. "But since you can’t hop a plane every other day and jet to a remote island, try the next-best thing: Create an island of peace and calm right there in your home," she says. "Getaway rooms aren’t just a luxury; they might be necessary for your sanity."
She recommends to start with taking a thorough look at the home, to see what space would work for a getaway. "Sometimes this is easy," Lee says. "You might have a guest room, a little-used den or an office space that is not just collecting dust." But it may not be so easy. If no one area works, "consider corners of rooms or unusual spaces," she says. Lee notes cleaning out a closet under the stairs or screening off unused space beyond the furniture. "Look for ways to create an oasis, even in a large room that everyone uses," she notes.
Closets by Design claim that the current getaway styles are either so in demand that everyone winds up there or don't quite fit the need for peace, while citing a Pew Research Center study that "85 percent of adults agree it is important to have times when they are completely alone."
According to the home improvement company, "Man caves are now media rooms for the entire family, often overflowing with memorabilia and the latest gaming systems. Women don’t always have the space (or the desire) for an actual 'she shed' outside, and any additional room that may be available is frequently filled with knickknacks," the retailer notes.
The Me-Cave, it says, offers privacy and adequate space while suiting both men and women as a personal sanctuary.
Closets by Design cites at least five types, including:
- Break Room. It's a place in which homeowners "can meditate, practice yoga, read or simply take a break." An island with drawers or other organizational features can cut down on clutter
- Creation Station. This designated space can tout a gift wrap station, organizing slots and craft supply drawers to form a hobby center instead of "taking over the kitchen or garage when it comes time to hone your craft.
- Dream Walk-in Closet. A spare room can be turned into a storage space that maximizes wall use, takes advantage of windows and keeps the area neat and tidy. Add a chair or bench for comfort, the retialer says.
- Hideaway Haven. You can "hang out in a room with your prized possessions — the ones that you don’t necessarily want to display in your living room, but you don’t want them hiding in your attic," Closets by design notes. The room can have adjustable shelves or slatwalls with hooks to keep collections out in the open.
- Multi-Purpose Me-Cave. The room can also double as a guest room or office, possessing a wall bed or split between work and fun sides.
“Everyone should have a peaceful place where they can step away and escape from the worries of the world,” says Jerry Egner, president of Closets by Design. "This space should be organized and clear of clutter, and its users should have easy access to their personal belongings," he says.
Similarly, Lee notes that a couple or family should decide what's needed to design a getaway. "Some might need soft lighting and a comfortable couch to stretch out on. Others might want a nice office chair and desk tucked away in a corner for writing," she says.
Next, clear out the proposed space. "You want a blank canvas for your creation," Lee points out. Choose colors, and add features such as a coat of paint, hang new drapes or install curtains to block the area from the rest of the house. Then, figure out what will fit in the area, such as a desk that fits in a tight space or "narrow yer plush chair for your reading nook." Add mirrors to create the illusion of more space or paint the ceiling to "box a space in." And put in a basket or bin to catch any clutter, she says.
"Finally, set the atmosphere with soft lighting or candles. Bring in a touch of soft music — or if you prefer silence, invest in a great pair of earplugs," Lee says.