Family Home improvement

Welcome to the Dudecave

It was room cleaning time, and I was on the clock.

As the kids have gotten older, they have gotten to where they are responsible for their own rooms. But let’s be honest here – most 10- and 13-year olds clean rooms the way squirrels stock away food for winter. They shove stuff here and there and hope they can find it in a few months when they need it.

So every so often we have to go in for an overhaul, which is best done with adult supervision, lest you end up with everything pulled out from its various stuffed locations and stuffed into exciting new locations.

It was my son’s turn, and my wife decided the best way to let us accomplish this would be to leave the house with our daughter. I am fairly certain that was so they did not have to embark on an overhaul across the hallway.

So my son and I stood in his room, surveying the damage. Somewhere in that room, I told him, was a floor. I just knew it.

We started by pulling everything out of every nook and cranny. We placed them into three piles: (1) trash (2) giveaway (3) keep. Care to guess which pile was the biggest? Hint: The trash pile had a Capri sun straw and a broken flip-flop, while the giveaway pile had a shirt he had outgrown.

As we assessed the task ahead, I said to my son, “Let’s build something.”

He looked at me, looked at the pile on the floor, and then shrugged and said, “OK.”

The vision actually came to me fairly simply. A huge bulk of the mess in his room was what he called his science stuff. He has two desks in his room, and those were piled high with skulls and snake skins and microscopes and such. He also had gobs of science books and science games and science experiment kits. These all needed their own home. And what more manly way to give them their own home than to build one.

Now, I’m not much of a carpenter. Or electrician. Or painter. Or most anything else home improvement related. (The lone thing I can do with great ease is install a ceiling fan. Pretty useless superpower, if you ask me.) But I had a vision and the determination of a dad spending a day with his son doing an awesome project.

The first stop was the hardware store, where we bough several 2X4s and a big sheet of plywood. Next up, the fabric store, where we bought about three yards of fabric of my son’s choosing – camouflage, a nice accent to the project.

When we got home, we set to cutting the wood. Measure once, cut twice, I told my son. It’s our way.

We hauled the cut pieces up to his room and began construction on the Super Awesome Cool Top Secret Construction Project. When his mother and sister arrived home, Parker had already placed a “DO NOT ENTER” sign on his door. My wife exited her vehicle and looked at the workbench, the saw, and the pieces of lumber sitting in the driveway. Her look was not one of confidence.

We told them they were not allowed in his room until we were finished. “I’m really worried,” my wife said to me.

“The sign says DO NOT ENTER. And we mean it,” I said.

Around 8 p.m., we put the finishing touches on our project, and the rest of the family was allowed to come and view The Dudecave, AKA IQ Corner. We had boxed in a small corner of his room, placing one of his science desks inside, and all of his science stuff on shelves we crafted. The camo fabric provides a nice covering where he can enter. We also hung lights inside so he could do homework. Well, and science, of course.

He’s digging having his own little place to call home, his room within a room. I’ve told his sister she is not allowed in there. She has told me that I have to build her something now, which I suppose is fair.

Despite my rudimentary home improvement skills, I’m pleased with how it turned out. I think it’s the perfect hideaway for a little dude to have in his room. Although I may add a ceiling fan…

To see pictures of the construction process, visit

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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