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February 16, 2012  |  The Troublesome Door to the Man-Cave  |  4654 hit(s)

For some Friday Fun today, I'll tell you the story of how I solved (I think) a problem in my home office. My office is in the bottom level of the house ("daylight basement"), in what's normally known as the "rec room" but around here is just the man-cave. It's a nice setup, except that it gets cold — sometimes 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the house.

When it's cold, I have a baseboard heater that I will sometimes use to prevent my hands from going numb. I can get the man-cave toasty, but in order to do that, I have to close the door to prevent all this nice heat from escaping.

And therewith is the problem: the damn door to the man-cave. First, you have to picture how the rec room/man-cave is configured:

Note the lengthy distance between my desk and the door.

I can close the door, but this introduces the following problems:
  1. People come in and out to go to the laundry room, and they leave the man-cave door open.
  2. The dog whimpers outside the door to come in.
  3. The dog whimpers inside the door to go out.
  4. The cat scratches on the door to come in.
  5. The cat scratches on the door to go out.

So I find myself constantly getting up and opening the door or getting up and closing the door. (Did I mention the lengthy distance between the desk and the door?) You can see that this is going to cut deeply into the highly productive time I spend constantly sitting at my desk.

Not long ago I had a thought, so I scrounged around and got two cup hooks and some stretchy hair ties (rubber bands, basically) and rigged a little closing device on the outside of the door:

After a couple of tries, I managed to get the hooks in just the right place such that now the door gently swings until it's closed but not latched.[1]

Dang, this solved problems 1, 2, 4, and 5 in one go. People can come and go, and if they leave the door open, it swings slowly shut. The dog and the cat can push their way in, and the cat has even figured out how to hook her claws around the door enough so she can pull it open and exit.

The only remaining issue was that the dumb dog couldn't figure out how to get out of the man-cave. So he would push his way in (door would swing shut), decide after a minute I wasn't as interesting as he'd thought, and then sit there whimpering to be let out.

I pondered this for a couple of weeks. Then one day I had another thought. I scrounged around some more and found some string and some screw eyes (yay for a garage filled with stuff). I used this to rig myself a kind of pulley system so that I could open the door from my desk, as long as the door wasn't actually latched:

I added a weight to my end of string that's enough to keep the string dangling but that isn't so heavy that it prevents the door from swinging shut.

In theory I'm all set: door stays shut (or shut enough to keep heat in), and I can open it from my desk as needed. I'll bet, though, that when we decide to sell the house, the real estate agent is going to "suggest" that I remove my contraption. Harumph.

[1] I have in the past installed spring-loaded hinges. For some reason, tho, I was in a sort of maker mood whilst thinking on this problem.

Alan   19 Feb 12 - 10:12 PM

This post should be titled "Rube Goldberg Contraption - Steps One and Two"

m6wg4bxw   26 Apr 12 - 2:24 PM

Have you considered a pet door (flap) in your man cave door? That, combined with hooks and elastic, should solve all of the problems, and without the necessity for you to act as doorman.

mike   26 Apr 12 - 2:54 PM

I actually did consider that; at my old house, I had an elaborate sequence of pet doors that granted pets access to outside. However, in this new house my wife has a fairly stringent ban on cutting holes in walls or doors. :-)