If every women needs a room of her own, as Virginia Woolf asserts, then perhaps every man should retain a toilet wherein he keeps his grooming and tools to himself. Personally, I hate the term of “man-cave” that was made popular by a grunting Tim Allen who knew less about manliness than he did about going for cheap, sit-com laughs. Man-cave insinuates that men prefer caves, clubs and primal spaces; throughout history, gentlemen have proven otherwise. One only needs to look back to the Victorian dandy or upper-class gentleman, who clearly cared about not only the quality of his surroundings, but also the tools with which he groomed his public appearance.
As a man who will soon become a father for the first time, I recognize that my wife and new daughter will undoubtedly take over the upstairs bathroom in the years to come. I am cool with this surrendering of space, and in fact, spent a few days repainting the bathroom a nice, bright white to make their experience more pleasant in the dark days of December until March. One truth remained, however, I still need a space to store my collection of grooming items. Straight razors, colognes, oils and balms need to be far from prying little fingers, but also need to be accessible to me unless I am to fall into complete disarray. Therefore, this afternoon was spent assembling my procured goods upon a shelf in the tiny basement bathroom that I began transforming a month ago.
For this small project, I opted to use a textured Ralph Lauren paint to create a roughened look to an accent wall. The idea is that I have installed a dimmer switch with incandescent bulbs to create a soft, but masculine feel to room. Where the outside trap is in the floor, I covered it with a rugged rubber tile that I cut to fit where I would be standing before the sink. Next, I decided to take a board recycled from a barn on my brother’s farm on Prince Edward Island. I loved the feel the board to my grooming items: it also reminds me where I come from in this world. Little mementos matter to men, and nostalgia of going through the collapsed barn can now be with me each morning and night before bed.
Other key additions were a hook to hang one or two scarves, which may not be a necessity for most men’s bathrooms, but which remind me of great adventures I have had while wearing them in deserts, on islands and in cities around the world. Adding to that, I decided to hang my antique map from 1775 of Egypt. Explorers need maps to remember that the world extends far beyond their tiny rooms, and this is a map whose frame I have been slowly refinishing and rebuilding. Finally, I installed dual pumps for hand soap and another liquid, and I now have my Bison leather strop hanging where I can sharpen the straight razors for use. While the actual feel of the bathroom is much warmer than my photographs relate, I cannot help but think that this was a good idea that did not cost much more than $200 to make happen, and now I do not need to fight with family to use the toilet in the years ahead.