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Whatever happened to the den? That secluded, often shut off room where one could go to relax after a hard day, or perhaps utilize when work needed to be done without interruptionwhere did it go? Many would say that it's still there only with a different name, like office or living room.
Office doesn't really seem to cut the mustard, though. An office, while it can be worked in, isn't a place to relax. Living rooms often have TV, which can be relaxing; but it's hard to concentrate with everyone else living all over the place. Game room is too distracting, and kitchen and dining room are way off. It seems like the closest thing many modern homes have to a den is the bathroom. What an unfortunate situation!
Why Have a Den?
The conventional idea of a den is often somehow related to masculinity. Men in television and film, from Don Corleone to Ward Cleaver, sought refuge in their dens and went there to shut out the rest of the world.
Today, it is well understood that stress is everywhere, and felt by everybody. The idea that respite is only a concern for a father is outdated. Moms, dads, and kids all need a place to unwind that sometimes a bedroom just doesn't fulfill. It is good to have a room in the house where anyone who needs to be alone can do so.
Traditional Den Decorating
In the past, den decorating was characterized by dark hardwood floors and heavy wood furniture. It was not only a place to relax and get away, but to do business and have important conversation. Company that was invited into the den were to see the home's finest and were encouraged to partake in the best the hosts had to offer.
The Modern Den
Today's den is typically turned into a guest room. This leaves den decorating in the modern home open to everything. Basically, you don't want anything to be too distracting. Leave out items that make a lot of noise, such as a large TV or any battery operated toys.
Things that you and your family find relaxing have a place in here. Den decorating might include a fish tank or (once again) a fireplace. A few comfortable chairs or a couch are nice, and a desk of some sort is essential. The den should be soothing, yet encourage productivity. A den's primary purpose is to provide a spot where any household resident can go to think clearly and not be disturbed. The lighting should be soft on the eyes, but bright enough to read by.
Take it Back
The den's time has come again! The twin bed reserved for guests can easily be replaced with a fold out couch. The exercise equipment that's gathering dust can perform this task just as well in the garage. Pull out the family portraits and wedding pictures and hang them up. Pull out or purchase a good pair of slippers and slip into them and your new den.
Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.