A Quintessential Den and Why You Need One Immediately.
My husband and I both happen to be collectors. We began our vinyl collection together and already had our individual collections of music, books/comics, sports memorabilia and pop culture trinkets/tchotchkes. Over the years, I had personally collected no less than several dozens of items bearing the name "I Love Lucy" and the same could be said of George's collection of comic book and sports figurines. At some point in your life, you decided that these were some of your favorite things so that family and friends sought these items out for gifts, year after year. Everyone has some version of this. Maybe you have toys that you hung on to from when you were a kid, baseball cards, teaspoons, stamps, National Geographics, the possibilities are endless. Think about it, you have something you love that is tucked away in boxes in the basement or attic.
So here we were, moving into a new place together with boxes of all of these collections. It was padded by the fact that George had collected a lot of items from his childhood home before this move, so we had even more of this stuff. A lot of it had been previously displayed in the husband's man cave in the basement, space we were losing with our move. I have to be honest, I wasn't ever really contemplating putting photos of Spiderman in the living room just because there would be no basement. What to do.....
When I was a kid, I always dreamed of having a library in my house. One of those tall rooms with a second level, a balcony and with ladders that slide around. My dream of becoming a library owner hasn't exactly faded away as the years have passed and I've done what small part I can by acquiring a lot of books. George is a collector of books as well. But, I am pretty sure that he thought that getting married and moving would mean that his comic collections would be buried further and further away in storage than they already had been.
Soooo not the case.
Dictionary.com defines "den" as "a room, often secluded, in a house or apartment, designed to provide a quiet, comfortable, and informal atmosphere for conversation, reading, writing, etc."
We decided to use the space off of our living room as a den - to hold all of the things that we have collected throughout both of our lives. Our figurines, some of our old artwork, our books our music, all of the things. The floorplan of our downstairs allows us to choose between this space and the second half of our living room for dining room space. We opted to use the separate space for a den and use the open concept space for a living room/dining room combination. Doing this, we were able to create a separate, yet incorporated room into the home to serve as the showcase. Our den.
The room is adjacent to our living room and has a "look through" into our kitchen. So not only does our living room open into the space, we are also able to see the den from our kitchen.
While the rest of our home represents us through our style, the den, that room, it brings out our inner child. While we can see it from the rest of our home, it somehow feels contained. In there, we consider every inch of space something that is available to be adorned with our "stuff." Darth Vader and Yoda flank my piano (an electric piano that George gave me for Christmas) and sit beside my shelves filled with Shakespeare, history books, Salinger and Poe. And somehow the shelves and the bench in front of them maintain their literary integrity under the watch of Thor's hammer and Indiana Jones' whip which sit atop. George's guitars rest on either side of a stereo cabinet filled with our records and next to a papisan chair that we've filled with pillows which Bruiser thinks were arranged specifically for him.
Light floods through the white and black curtains which cover the sliding glass door from the den to our patio. They have a bit of a "glam rock" feel to them that add to the ambiance of the room. Everywhere you look in that room, there is something that George and I both love. Our shared love of Star Wars (which was awakened in me by George after a lifetime of refusing to stay awake during Episode 4 - another story for another day), our love of music, a sign for the MGTD kit car my dad made back when I was a little girl, my obsession with Lucille Ball and George's for sports, our shared love of hockey, did I mention the music?
We really completed the room with an out of the blue lighting donation from my sister. She and her husband bought a new house and were changing out a lot of the chandeliers. She tucked one aside for me and I immediately knew this was going in the den. But we were going to paint it red.
The light really completes that old distinguished library feel that I always wanted yet somehow also feels like it belongs in a comic book store. All it took was a can of spray paint and some electrical work to flip the light. We chose vintage style light bulbs and have the light on a dimmer to enhance the feeling that we wanted for the room. Since the chandelier is red, the light casts a glow that a light of another color just couldn't have done.
I don't think there is too much to sell here. A room filled with fun stuff that allows you to see and use the stuff regularly. Win. Why I think it is absolutely necessary? Life is filled with a lot of difficult and hard roads to travel, I think you should get to see the things that mean something to you. Why I think they should be in a den? Rather than spread things out throughout your home and compromise your design aesthetic, create a zone in your house to really showcase "the stuff." George and I really revel in the fact that our home represents us. And part of that home is this awesome room that provides us a place to "get away." You can have a man cave too, but this room, this room is for both of us. He knows, it. I know, it. And Bruiser, well, no one loves the papisan chair in front of the window more than he does.
Let's face it, most people have an extra space in their home that they are begging to find a use for and here they are with things they love being kept in boxes. It is time to empty the boxes!
Maybe someday I will have a two-tiered library with balconies and sliding ladders. For now, the den will do.