...I have a man space. 

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Whoever said "a man's home is his castle" didn't get it quite right. We might unclog the toilet when it overflows, mow the yard when the grass gets high, or even pay the mortgage once a month - But "castle"? That implies we get to do whatever we want in the house, and that's just not true. Anyone who has ever lived with a wife, kids, or live-in girlfriend can tell you that.  In fact, a more accurate adage might be, "A man's home is his castle until his significant other moves in." For it's then that men often lose control. Table saws and tools in the garage get crowded out by bicycles and soccer gear. Motorcycle posters are replaced by Impressionist art prints. Even the beloved leg lamp  may be banished. Before a man knows it, the only space he has left is a bedside table or the top of a dresser - just enough room for the contents of his pockets.


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Lately though, men have started to find freedom by reclaiming previously lost territory. Backyard sheds, spare bedrooms, unfinished attics, corners of the basement, old outbuildings, and brand pole barns  alike have all been taken over with a new found sense of purpose.


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I built my manspace within our 24' x 24' attached garage. Though it still looks very similar to a garage; it has a concrete floor and two large roll-up doors , what it does not have is a car within it.  It is now exclusively a man space; my workshop to be specific. Cast iron machinery, maple work benches, stacks of lumber, chisels and hand planes have replaced the spaces once reserved for the family vehicle, baby strollers, and boxes of christmas decor. The wet tire marks that used to cover the floor are now covered by sawdust. The once cold concrete slab is now warmed by the wood stove and a mingling odor of woodsmoke and whiskey fills the air. While it's certainly no bar room, it dutifully fulfills the purpose of providing a comfortable place to hang out with the fellas while discussing work over a glass of beer. Most importantly it is a space that is designated as mine own where I may do whatever I want, even if all I want is to casually exchange the drudgery of life for the feeling of a plane iron sliding across an oak slab.


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As a man in the market for a man space, you must make some decisions that are difficult. Often the decision made is not so difficult for you to come to terms with as it will be for your wife to come to terms with; some sly negotiation may be in order there. From my stand point, I presented the issue as: "I get the garage and she gets the whole rest of the house*". 
{*Except the bathroom in the morning and the living room on football sundays.} 



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Once you make it through negotiations, the rest is easy. Of course planning, budgeting, organizing, construction, and outfitting the space are all issues that can only be executed on a custom level pertaining to your decided upon space and the intended purpose of that space. It should be noted that Dreamcatcher Design+Build is steeped with knowledge of creating man spaces, it is after all our specialty and the reason for this blog. If you have a space you'd like to reclaim, don't hesitate to contact us so that we may provide you with the ammunition to approach the negotiation phase as well as consultation towards achieving your man space after your space is procured.

 
 
If a man's house truly is his castle then where he sits becomes his throne. But I certainly am not talking about that porcelain throne which adorns the 'morning man sanctuary', rather I'd like to discuss the throne which may occupy your living room, workshop, or other Man Space. In thinking of this, I decided to make a short list of some of my favorite man thrones. Let us know what you have and what you would rather have. Any of these?
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At the  top of my list is the Herman Miller Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman ($4500). To me this is easily the ultimate in retro-style manliness. It falls somewhere between Captain Kirk's seat of command on the bridge of the U.S.S.Enterprise and something you might spy in Don Draper's office. Having sat in one, I can say first hand that this chair was designed around the man's proportions and is extremely comfortable. While it's equally appropriate for a traditional man space library and a contemporary man space sports den but would be best suited in a retro styled Mad Men home office. Made of pressure formed laminated walnut, plush black leather, and cast aluminum base this is the quintessential representation of manliness in the shape of a chair.
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The La-Z-Boy has come a long way since introducing the reclining chair back in 1928, quickly becoming the most famous name in man furniture (maniture?). Today's rocker-recliner is loaded with man inspired features including drink holder, remote control glovebox, built in beverage cooler, vibrate and heat massage and now with the new La-Z-Boy Explorer Lounger ($1400) even a tray table with integrated wireless keyboard to control the television and surf the net via Microsoft WebTV Plus service. Imagine hanging out with your buddies in your man space sports den when an argument commences over "who was the best pass rusher of all time?" then you can simply flip out the pad and google the answer faster than your quibbling pals burp the national anthem. (BTW, the No. 1 pass rusher of all time is Hall of Fame defensive end David "Deacon" Jones)
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For the less lazy boy or otherwise tech savvy man, there's the new Elite iPad Chair ($4000) that offers - you guessed it - a built in iPad tablet holder. Other features include a whisper quiet reclining motor for the foot rest, lumbar support, elbow positioning, a stainless steel cup holder, and a seat cushion normally found in a European sports car. In addition to sitting back and reading, the chair also becomes command central for providing complete home automation through the iPad. Companies such as Crestron and Home Logic now offer downloadable apps that transform the iPad into a beautiful, large home theater touch panel. With the Crestron Mobile Pro G app made specifically for the iPad, your personal fortress can be controlled by simply tapping the screen to select movies, view various security cameras, adjust light levels, room temperature, and volume with supreme ease. (iPad not included)
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Take seven strategically-placed speakers and cover them in Italian leather and you’ve got yourself theBodySound Recliner ($6000). This home theater or music room specific chair places the subwoofers and loudspeakers normally associated with a home theater system inside the chair, under your back, butt and sides thereby addressing “the need for full impact, large scale sound in a smaller space.” The intensity of the deeply vibrating sound waves not only intensifies movies and music but produces “ profound relaxation and deeper states of meditation” according to the company. I’m sure the speakers have something to do with that, but it might also be the Italian leather and the comforting ability to spend $6000 on a chair.


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Every man space should have a bar - it doesn't need to be a formal bar like the one down at the "friday night jamboree and hootenanny", mine own consists of a tray atop a mini fridge and a portable bar box that I take to with me to hang at my less fortunate friend's man spaces. But if you are so inclined to build a real deal bar, you will need to conemplate a place to sit at . Enter the Tahoe Antler Co. Elk Antler Bar Chair ($2400), available with elk antler arm rests and elk hide seat and back - if only it had hoofs for feet it would be complete. This chair is about as manly as it gets, I can only dream of  sitting in it at a traditional red oak bar while enjoying a hand crafted american lager and gnawing on a hearty elk burger! Buck snort.


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I've seen this awesome "Scottish Bar Stool" floating around the internet for awhile but until sitting down to make this list never researched who made it and where it could be purchased. It turns out, nobody knows who made it and it cannot be purchased (sad). But, in the indellible spirit of Dreamcatcher Design+Build, I have decided to build it myself (I dunno, maybe). It would make a great addition to my homemade hokum collection that also includes my Leg Lamp I made this past winter. 


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When someone says "bean bag", images of either a tie dyed faux felt bag full of mini packing peanuts or a sticky pleather floor pillow that's not even fit for the dog easily comes to mind - certainly nothing manly. However the Steel Bean Bag Chair by Rick Ivey ($4500) is nothing like that. Made of riveted stainless steel plates, this one surely would take away the prize of being the “most manly bean bag ever” and is the only bean bag that we could possibly recommend for any man space.

 
 
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Recently I saw a news clip that mentioned how Oprah and 378 of her staff took a challenge to become vegans for a week. While we would never contemplate becoming vegans ourselves, we have no problem with others becoming vegans... the lack of protein will make you a much less contentious opponent to conquer.

Through the years I have met many people who have attempted the vegan or vegetarian diet methods. Some stick with it - they may even be alive still. Others see the error of their ways and convert back to a natural omnivorous diet. As an amateur philosopher, I could imagine the merit of eating like a rabbit for awhile in order to appreciate how tasty they really are. But I will save that research for others.


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Personally, I cannot even talk about an animal without wondering - if not just a little - how tasty that little varmint might be on a platter. Medium rare with a side of potatoes and gravy, please.  I recently entered a discussion pertaining to the plight of dolphins who stray into fishing nets while chasing the tuna which the nets were intended. These days the store shelves are chock full of "Dolphin Free Tuna" but what about the cans of "Extra Dolphin Tuna"? I'm not saying we fish the mammals out of the sea - whalers already tried that - but what's the harm in offering a wider variety. It almost seems logical that if there were wider variety of meats being offered then we wouldn't be eating any one animal into extinction anymore.
 

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There is seemingly no end to my meaty cravings either. I watch nature shows like others might read a menu. Just the other day I watched a PBS Nature special on hummingbirds and thought to myself, "yeah, they are small but if you got enough of them you could at least make an appetizer." I remember as a kid going out bass fishing on my grandparents lake and noticing that while I wasn't reeling in any lunker bass, there were plenty of  monster bullfrogs ringing the lake with their stomach rumbling croaks taunting my hunger pangs. By the next day I was back out on that lake with a slingshot, knockin' those big bulls out and tossing them in a gunny sack. I must've bagged at least twenty of 'em - that's 40 legs. We chopped off the legs, pulled off the skin, then soaked them in salt water and the next morning had deep fried frog legs for breakfast. In some regions that's an expensive delicacy!



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So what is it with vegans that makes them turn tail at the sight and smell of a juicy porterhouse steak? Is it the face of the animal? I never looked into the eyes of most of the things I've ate - save for potatoes. The good butcher takes care of the sensitive part and I am able to just see the steer for it's inner beauty. Do vegans have a problem with eating animals that have a brain and think? Hey, I say if that deer was thinking about anything but food and sex then he probably wouldn't have ever strayed into the cross hairs. Not to mention that modern science has uncovered plenty of plants and other non-animals that portray signs of thought and intelligence. I'm no botanist but isn't a venus fly trap a plant? Would a vegan eat one of those? Possibly vegans are just looking to eat healthier. But how can they be healthier without obtaining all the essential vitamins and nutrients that are only possible through the consumption of other animals? The results of one official study on the effects of a vegan diet showed that the majority of it's followers were severely suffering from malnutritian. In that study,55% reported loss of muscle and muscle tone on the diet, 55% also reported difficulty staying warm - a thyroid condition, 59% were plagued with food cravings, A whopping 67% reported scattered thinking, 46% felt they were looking older than they should, 54% felt run down and chronically tired, and 59% didn't feel like exercising or working while on the diet. 

So, way to go Oprah, you just turned 378 of your friends and co-workers into weak little zombies for a week. 

Pass the BBQ sauce.

 
 
Brewing is a magical process that turns the principle ingredient - barley (fit only for feeding to animals in normal circumstances!) - into a wonderful beverage called BEER. Strictly speaking, 'ale' has no added flavor hops, unlike 'lager' that does. Flavor and bittering components are included to make the final product more stable, interesting and enjoyable to drink. 
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Since beer is so high on the Dreamcatcher list of man space requirements, I thought I would take a minute to inform everyone why beer is such an essential element. Hint: It's not because it gets you drunk when you drink too much of it. In fact, here at Dreamcatcher we frown upon over consumption of alcohol. Not to sound like a Public Service Announcement but drinking too much in one sitting shows lack of discipline and could lead a guy into making some poor decisions (seen Charlie Sheen lately?). Rather, beer is a complex beverage that, when drank in moderation provides one with much to contemplate. Let's look at some often overlooked attributes to this, our favorite beverage.


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1.) Beer is like an entire meal packed into 12fl. oz.
Now, I'm not saying beer is a food substitute nor am I advocating anyone take a "liquid lunch" but what I will say is that the ingredients in beer are remarkably similar to the ingredients in bread. Without getting too technical - as there are a myriad of beer recipes - most beer is made from fermenting a mixture of water, malted barley, hops, and yeast. But other ingredients may be added or substituted such as rice, millet, wheat, corn, citrus, pumpkin, berry fruit, and spices just to name a few. As you deviate further from the standard Americanized lager, you will find that there is a plethora of beers and certainly one to fulfill any appetite.

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2.) Beer is a communion beverage.
While beer may not be proper for a Holy Communion ceremony as prescribed by the catholic church, it is certainly the best beverage to consume while communing with the fellas. In fact, beer is so communal that our architecture has made a specific space just to encourage it. Call it a bar, pub, tavern, inn, speakeasy, beer hall, or saloon but they are all built for the same purpose - to allow men to commune while drinking beer. 
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3.) Beer is scientifical.
Beer doesn't just "happen", it is an alchemical tango which involves mixing the right amount of ingredients at the right times and heating to just the right temperature while always staying extremely sanitary and antibacterial. It starts with malting the barley - that is wetting the grain in order to coax it to sprout. This creates enzymes, which will later convert the starches already present in barley into sugars during the mashing process. Next, the grain is added to water and heated to a precise temperature of 157 degrees for one hour. This begins the fermentation process of converting starch to simple sugar. After a 2 hour rest, the mixture is brought to a full boil and the hops are added. Hops are a resinous plant and they give beer its aroma, thanks to something called lupulin, which resides in pollen-like glands inside the base of the hop flowers. Then the beer is cooled, and yeast is added. The yeast is a living fungus that feast on the sugar for 10 days to create the byproducts of alcohol, CO2, and heat. Next the temperature is dropped to 32 degrees for up to two months. After which the beer may be pumped through a filter made of diatomaceous earth, a highly porous, silica-rich powder made from millions of fossilized diatoms, a sort of ancient algae. The filter removes spent yeast cells, grain matter, and other impurities. Finally the beer rests for one day before being barreled and is later force-carbonated with C02 at 15 PSI before it can flow into a frosty mug below your favorite tap.

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4.) Beer is an ancient art.
Beer is one of the world's oldest prepared beverages, possibly dating back to the early Neolithic or 9500 BC, when grain was first farmed. It is likely that beer-like beverages were independently invented among various cultures throughout the world and today many archaeologists speculate that beer was instrumental in the formation of civilizations. 

The earliest Sumerian writings contain references to beer and the traditional brewing process is recorded in the written history of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Some types of beers were used especially in religious ceremonies. Even a prayer to the goddess Ninkasi known as "The Hymn to Ninkasi" serves as both a prayer as well as a method of remembering the recipe for beer in a culture with few literate people. The Ebla tablets, which date to 2500 BC, reveal that the city produced a range of beers, including one that appears to be named "Ebla" after the city. Early traces of beer and the brewing process have been found in ancient Babylonia as well. In 2100 BC, the Babylonian king Hammurabi included regulations governing tavern keepers in his law code for the kingdom. Even more historical documentation shows that around 5,000 years ago, ancient Chinese civilizations were brewing a beer-like substance known as kui.

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While this blog post only provides  a quick glimpse into why beer is so important to manliness and the man spaces we create, I encourage you to continue beer research on your own. Of course the best place to start is your local pub or party store. Maybe try something new - somthing extra hoppy or something extra stout. Which ever beer you may choose to drink, take a just moment to contemplate all the history, science, and precision that went into crafting that brew. Imagine all the hard working men through the ages - men who built pyramids and skyscrapers and longed for their day to be done so that they might sit to rest before a frosty pint. Above all, thank god for inventing such a unique and tasty beverage! In the immortal words of  Benjamin Franklin, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." As a red blooded American patriot,  I tend to think Ol' Ben was on to something.  Cheers!

 
 
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These rules are from Chuck Norris's personal code of conduct.
  1. I will develop myself to the maximum of my potential in all ways.
  2. I will forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements.
  3. I will continually work at developing love, happiness and loyalty in my family.
  4. I will look for the good in all people and make them feel worthwhile.
  5. If I have nothing good to say about a person, I will say nothing.
  6. I will always be as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.
  7. I will maintain an attitude of open-mindedness.
  8. I will maintain respect for those in authority and demonstrate this respect at all times.
  9. I will always remain loyal to my God, my country, family and my friends.
  10. I will remain highly goal-oriented throughout my life because that positive attitude helps my family, my country and myself.


While I do enjoy a couple comical Chuck Norris "facts", I am no hardcore follower of his exaggerated exploits as told all over the internets. But somewhere in the tubes, I ran across this listing of Ol' Chuck's actual code of conduct as he lists them in his autobiography that I never read. Since it doesn't mention anything about him controlling the earth's weather or dropping roundhouse kicks on mythological creatures I assume it's really what he said.

In all seriousness, it looks to be a good code of ethics. We like ethics - or at least the idea that a man should account for his own actions by living by a personal code - that's why HONOR tops our Dreamcatcher Pyramid of Greatness. As a man in this modern world, we are sometimes caught in limbo between expressing ours machismo through chivalry and giving in to political correctness. While some [feminists] may argue that chivalry is dead and machismo is for cavemen, I think that the repression of that inner caveman has lead some men to become real louts with weak morals. I mean, chivalry used to mean having the cajones to wear a suit of armor and battle to the death just to protect the good name of your favorite gal. That's standing up for what you believe in, son. 

And that's what Chuck is saying here. A man should stand up for himself, his family, his god, his country, and his friends. He should seek that which challenges him and do battle with it - even if that challenge comes from within. He should look for opportunities to help himself and others. What he's saying is HE'S A MAN and if you got a problem with that then he's got a fist that you can inspect up close. 

But violence is a last resort. Better to have a good firm stance - both physically and morally. Don't be a namby-pamby when it comes to what you believe in. Look at all sides of the situation at hand and make an informed decision as to which side you will stand on then fight for it.

If it helps, just ask yourself.... What would Chuck Norris do?
 
 
Maybe some of you know who Ron Swanson is; the office manager on NBC's 'Parks and Recreation'. Well, not long ago we were given insight into Mr. Swanson's manliness through his Swanson Pyramid of Greatness. Taking up the staff, we here at Dreamcatcher have analyzed his pyramid and decided to make our own.
The Dreamcatcher Pyramid of Greatness borrows some from the Swanson Pyramid, with some very distinct differences... 

For one, while we agree with Mr. Swanson that "HONOR" should be at the peak, we with architectural train of thought know that a pyramid cannot stand without a firm foundation. Therefore, our 'base' is representational of what it takes to be a man and have our own man space. Beer, whiskey, fire, cast iron, oak, leather, stone, and brass make up the materials which we should surround ourselves with if we wish to achieve manly perfection. From there we work upwards, mostly agreeing with Ron but with our own take. Towards the middle we meet with Swanson's train of thought again; 'Meat' is essential to a man's life but 'Bacon' get's a special salute. 

As we continue through this blog, we will be referring back to the Dreamcatcher Pyramid of Greatness and exploring it's individual components - possibly changing a few along the way. But the foundation has been set and as we know, a good foundation is the key to having a long lasting structure whether it be a skyscraper, a home, a workshop, or a cabin in the woods where we go to ponder life while drinking a beer and sipping a barrel aged whiskey.

Stay tuned.
 
 
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Well, to be honest a man space doesn't necessarily need much. Most men could simply get by with an old futon in the basement or a wobbly old stool in the chicken shack out back. But really that's just a start. Here at Dreamcatcher, we believe a man space should define the man (or men) who occupy that space and be specifically tailored to the tasks that man pursues in his space. That task could be as simple as relaxing while reading a book or it could mean getting the guys together for a jam session. Whatever your situation, individualizing your space is key to expressing your dominance over your new territory.

To help with the process, Dreamcatcher Design+Build recommends a few key elements that work in any man space; in order of importance they are:
1.) Beer
2.) Whiskey
3.) Fire
4.) Iron
5.) Oak
6.) Leather

That's our short list, but the elements there cover a wide variety of options and uses. Stay tuned to the blog as we will take a closer look at each man space element and much more.
 
 
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In my pursuit to learn more and varied craft fields, I began to acquire a deep affinity for the unique brawniness that always seemed to accompany the spaces surrounding the craftwork. The work benches and tool cabinets of a woodshop, the tong rack of the blacksmith shop, or the toolbox of the auto mechanic all these are methods of organization unique to the craftsman and symbolic of the men who use those spaces. 

Unfortunately, for as important and deeply emotional that these manly spaces have become they are not often recognized in the eyes of architecture. Women's spaces on the other hand - most notably the kitchen, the laundry room, the dining room, and the powder room are everyday occurrences in modern homes. But there are no specifically suited spaces for men. Often men's spaces are relegated to the leftover areas; the basement, the attic, and the garage if his wife is so kind to park outside. So to me, "The Man Cave" represents a new idea in the design of American homes. It is a specifically designated and designed area of the home or independent structure that is just for the man of the house. 

At Dreamcatcher Design+Build, we specialize in Man Caves and are excited to work with you and your significant other to ensure that your dream home might include a space optimized for your manliness and manly desires in life. This could mean building a barn in the backyard to house your hotrod or just organizing the garage already attached to your home to make it better facilitate your lifestyle. On the more lavish side you might consider having us design a full service brew pub in your basement or a complete "champagne room" in your attic. Anything goes with Man Caves, and we are just the people to make those masculine dreams into Man Cave reality. 

Call us today to see what we can do for you!!

 
 
We go live today!!!!!!!