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REMAKING HALLOWED GROUND

Does the guy in your life have a "man cave"? You know, that sacred spot he's carved out for himself in your home, the one outfitted with the ugly recliner he can't live without and the other dubious furnishings you've banned from the rest of the house?

He may ardently declare his love for this sanctuary of masculinity, but chances are, if you could help him make this space more attractive, comfortable and functional, he'd be over the moon. Why not make his man cave one of the best rooms in the house?

Like most men I know, my husband, Dan, has a man cave. It's sort of like a clubhouse with a "No Girls Allowed" sign hung from the door. I call this small upstairs office Command Central because it's filled with computers, stacks of papers and piles of books.

I am not allowed in the man cave, not even to clean it. In fact, the only family members welcomed there are the kittens, probably because they're males. But whenever Dan is out of town, I break the rules and barge in with a broom and dust rag. When Dan gets back in town and discovers that the trash can has been emptied, the furniture dusted and the floor swept, he's mad at me for an entire day.

For too long, the men in our lives have been relegated to the least desirable spots in our home - a corner of the basement or even in the garage. Now it's time to make their man caves every bit as appealing as the rest of your home.

If your guy loves pool, poker or any other sort of "guy" game, why not make his cave into a smart-looking game room? Consider the English-men's-club look, with its dark woods, rich leather furniture, menswear-fabric details and masculine artwork.

How about making the man cave into a study where he can work from home? A friend recently transformed a little-used formal living room into a study for her husband. If it has a fireplace, consider replacing the mantel with something masculine, like a cast stone surround. Then, style it with guy-friendly accents, like hunting trophies or antlers.

For most guys, paradise is a comfy sofa and a big-screen TV. If your man would flip over a TV room that's his alone, house his flat screen and other high-tech gear in a bookcase that has plenty of room for storage and displays. This is a place to showcase accents that celebrate the things he loves, like golf, hunting or sports memorabilia.

Pick out a sofa that's sizable enough to fit him comfortably. Look for sofas that have high backs and arms because you can easily prop yourself up to watch TV or read a book. And there is no better place to nap than on a deep, soft sofa. Make it more manly by adding a few accent pillows in menswear fabrics like hound's-tooth check, paisley and tartan plaid.

If your guy wants a bar in his man cave where he and his friends can gather for a drink, make it as fetching as it is functional. How about getting a great-looking butler's cart, then filling it with bar supplies? For seating, add a high-top table and chairs. It will make the room feel more like a pub.

Adapted from nellhillsblog.com, which can be linked from the nellhills.com home page.

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