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DECOR SCORE- Nothing Primitive About Today's 'Cave Woman' PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rose Bennett Gilbert, Creative Syndicate   
Thursday, 17 May 2012 01:48


"Cave" for a very modern woman is romantically creamy, dreamy and luxurious.

Q: My live-in tells me he wants a "man cave." I'm assuming that means a dark room he can crawl into with a big TV and a recliner but without me. So here's my question: What about a "woman's cave" for me? Is there any such thing?

A: Absolutely but by another name. Down through design history, the woman of the house has always enjoyed her separate space; only she called it the morning room, ladies' parlor or sewing room. It was a place apart from the tumult of the house, where she could entertain her friends, practice her needlework, or just get away from her husband and his cigars for a while.

Now, in this age of separate-but- equal thinking, at least one interior designer, Jodie O'Connor, has revived the concept and even dares to label it "woman's cave."

Her "cave" is a warm, bright spot in the endless — and endlessly interesting — parade of rooms on view in this year's Mansion in May Designer Showhouse in Morristown, N.J. There are 40 decorated rooms in the century-old Tudor mansion, Glynallyn, now on the market for $5.7 million, plus 7.5 acres of gardens; details at

Centered by an overstuffed, round ottoman upholstered in cut-velvet damask, O'Connor's cave is all about raspberry and cream, with luxe touches like a woman-scaled Chippendale-style sofa and silk-embroidered floral drapery panels with old-fashioned smocking on top.

She designed the space to nurture its feminine occupant and friends, O'Connor explains, "allowing them to re-energize, recharge and relax." By contrast, the proverbial "man cave" is a recent retro concept, a place for a 21st-century guy to escape, brood and get in touch with his inner brute, all while watching the game, large and loud.

Q: What to do with an off-season fireplace?

A: There were a number of take-away ideas at the Mansion in May. In their Moorish-flavored room of Mediterranean blue and cream, designer company Kenneth/Davis Inc. braced lengths of white birch logs upright in the fireplace, over a hidden backlight that gave off a welcome, fresh, cool glow.

In the jazzy country refuge by British Home Emporium, designers George and Nina Karmallis simply stacked the entire fireplace with short round logs, cut end out, filling it completely with attractive little circles.

Designing a room of her own for an imaginary l7-year-old, Mary Sferra, M.R. Sferra Interior Design, clustered nearly a dozen pillar candles in a silver holder and heaped a deep layer of sparkling crystals across the bottom of the fireplace opening.

Designer Fred Root played with fire, metaphorically speaking, in his brilliantly taut, dark and tailored "Messieurs' Retreat" for an openly gay couple. Not only did the onyx headboard and bar glow from within via hidden lights, Root lit his deco-inspired mirrored fireplace with a frankly faux electric fire. What might have looked tacky in another context was just the excuse one needed to draw up the pair of his chaise longues covered in wool glen plaid.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the coauthor of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design.


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