Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Secrets of My Man Cave

Living in a family with two growing boys, space in our home is already at a premium.  Thus, when the early onset of middle age came nipping at the back of my neck and caused me to desire a man cave of my own, I naturally thought outside the box.  By "the box" I mean our house because it is rather shaped like a box.  The unpredictability of Chicago weather caused me to scratch off the tent possibility and that left me with either the back of the minivan since we have pretty much removed the middle row of seats permanently (pay attention, this will be relevant later...oooh, foreshadowing) or the garage.  So, into the garage I went.

After clearing space of all things hoarded, I assessed the remaining half of the garage and imagined how I might use the space.  The one thing I had known for some time the cave must include was a collection of retro video games.  I procured my old systems dating back to my childhood and gathered as many games as I could.  The result was a functioning NES, Super NES, Nintendo 64, Gamecube and, the flagship of the museum (because that's what I considered it, a museum to the history of gaming) my old Atari 2600 as well as several boxes full of game cartridges.  I also took back an old 32-inch tube television from my brother-in-law, which was much heavier than I ever remembered it being, and received an old 20-inch tube TV from my parents.  I then found the original DVD player and found that both that and my old college stereo were still working like champs.  Things were shaping up nicely.

The problem that I faced was a lack of shelving to display my old video games.  I imagined those slick looking metal shelving units you see in the Sears tool catalogs lining my garage walls.  You know, the ones with the exposed riveting and the textured shelves that make your testosterone levels sky rocket just looking at them.  Yes, your testosterone levels too ladies, that's how manly they are.  This was pondered for about a minute, then I came to my senses.  Such a major overhaul costs a pretty penny and I was short on money.  The money I did have could certainly not be earmarked for man cave renovations.

So, my eye became more analytical.  I started searching for possibilities where others might not see them.  I scrounged.  I considered all things old and discarded that could find both new life and purpose in a new place, like a washed up Cubs' pitching prospect traded to another team.

That was when I noticed the old beat up under the garage patio's overhanging roof.  They stood there patiently holding my sons' long overlooked outdoor toys.  Buckets and sand shovels, wooden blocks and dry-rotted water guns were removed from them and I quickly found the perfect space for them to fit in.  They would do nicely, but they were in terrible shape.

That's when a stroke of genius hit me: Duct tape.

As the photo in my previous post shows, each unit could be coated in the dull metallic tape and take on new life.  The key to the process was carefully placing some tape at each joint first.  Then, long strips could be wrapped tightly around each flat surface and overlapping such that they formed a continuous loop around, the end of the strip of duct tape coming back into contact with duct tape.  You can see the before and after results for yourself at the earlier link.  Once the shelves were completed, I placed them back to back to create a deeper shelving unit and this is the finished product:

Not bad for the cost of 3 rolls of duct tape

As you can see, there was already an old fridge, perfect for chocking full of, uh soda and anything else you want to keep cool.  the rest of the wall of entertainment looks like this:

The classics at the ready

But there remained one small problem.  My chosen video games partners (whoever the lucky devils might be) and I could not be expected to stand while playing.  That's counter to the entire spirit of video games (that's right, Wii, I said it).  I need comfortable seating options, but the issue of cost had not gone away.

That's how I found out that people are far more willing to get big old recliners out of their house than you would think if you just ask around.  My brother and my wife both wanted old comfy chairs removed from their home and that gave me two seats.  But as any gamer worth their salt knows, the four player possibility must be possible.  Enter the aforementioned middle seats from my minivan.  

It took a while to get all the old Cheerios out, but it was worth it

Before I knew it, gaming nirvana was close at hand.  I have dozens of retro titles to chose from at the drop of a hat.  The man cave I aspired to had been achieved.

Now, maybe with all the money I saved I can quit my job and commit more time to spending time in there.

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