Archives for posts with tag: small houses

Retro man cave, photo from 'The Selvedge Yard'

There’s a longstanding tradition of puttering and Mr. Fixitism associated with backyard garages.  But let’s face it –   a lot of the work done in Dad’s garage/workshop amounted to a thinly veiled getaway from mundane chores and family obligations. Naturally with the advent of increasingly high tech digital entertainment the manly retreat migrated indoors to dryer climates often leaving the garage or workshop to moulder. It’s hard for a table saw to compete with a massive high definition screen and surround sound. The arrival of the Laneway house however signals the newly synthesized Man Cave + Workshop, re-united in the back yard where they belong.

The benefits are huge because the complete acoustic separation allows noisy groups of Hockey or World Cup fans to cheer and rant to their hearts content.  The presence of a bathroom, fridge and microwave makes for a disruption-free getaway where loud entertainment, car repairs and woodwork can happen with the Plasma screen in view and sound system blaring.  So the ‘testosterone zone’ can rise again in its’ more custom upholstered, digitally enhanced form. Surprisingly this has some inadvertent environmental benefits because, like the live work studio (we’ll talk digital cottage in further installments), there’s no need to drive the crew to pubs or sports bars.  Hidden irony: We can celebrate car culture by driving less.

Supposedly men have trouble multi-tasking.  But the gathering of all-things-male under one roof at least gives us the chance to disprove that myth because the tools are right there next to the entertainment unit.  So Men – it’s time to rise up and reclaim the multi-tasking high ground.  The Laneway house is your time to shine…and drink and channel surf etc. etc. all at once.

The Laneway pad is also a great personal design expression opportunity for both genders because, while the Man Cave gets all the Mac Daddy Macho decor, the rest of the house can free itself of Moose heads, Harley memorabelia or Tuck and Roll upholstered mini bars.  Don’t get me wrong here.  The Laneway can be a retreat for either gender and accommodate a wide range of uses, which we will get to – but the happy proximity of cars, tools, cold beer and big TV’s: well that’s just too good to pass up. Party on Garth.

The Wayne's World Man Cave


Although originally intended as a manifestation of Vancouver’s Eco-Density initiative, Laneway houses have many uses beyond adding urban density.

One of my favourites is what I like to call the Failure to Launch Pad. The Laneway house can become a great semi-autonomous home for your recent college graduate who is struggling to find space, identity, and privacy.  It is a perfect solution in many ways because the occupants are still close to home but have sufficient distance to at least feel independant.  As we know many young 20 somethings are returning from sucessful university careers to a very challenging job market. When you have been on your own for 4 years or longer, coming home can be a bit of a rude shock. Parents still see their children as a little boy or girl and treat them accordingly. This, coupled with the fact that many returning students regress, can be a nasty cocktail of resentment and dependance frustrating for parents and children alike. The Laneway house or the FTLP provides a successful compromise with private access such that nocturnal comings and goings disturb no one – i.e. you can each have a life.  The reciprocal advantages are that your aging parents will often want you nearby so a good symbiosis can evolve from this close, but not too close, proximity. It can even provide  a viable office/studio/cottage industry opporunity for the occupant, helping them to atain the means for a full and successful launch into full independence.

Demographic studies have shown there is a return to the traditional model of the multi-generational family.

This is just one of many great uses for laneway houses. Stay tuned to find out the others.