Campus Cribs: “The Man Cave”

Part pub, part hunting lodge, part tribute to the vibrant San Francisco from which he hails, the Pratt 2 single of Austin Shea ’14 is quite the masterpiece. Shea, the only first-year I know who “needed” to put up wallpaper, built a bar and keeps a stack of books if only “to look educated.” His posters range from a picture of a wolf with an inspirational quote to reminders of home such as a San Francisco Giants flag. He took anything but the typical approach to decorating his first dorm room. First of all, it was not at all premeditated. He arrived at the College with no idea of how he would decorate, but after plenty of Amazon.com and eBay perusing, he is pleased with the outcome. His door is almost always open, both to “fuse the environments” and to let people know that they’re welcome to come hang out.

He claims that his room is not a “one-trick pony” – there are numerous themes tied together by an overarchingly outdoorsy ambiance. The first embellishment he displayed was a small frame encasing a preserved Xylotrupes gedeon beetle, which set the tone for the rest of the room and inspired future purchases. The wallpaper includes faux-brick on one wall and rustic wood paneling on another, which gives off the feeling of a rural log cabin. Entrymate April Jenkins ’14 said his room is “beyond ridiculous. It has a weird, Austin-like charm.” Shea preferred a simpler adjective to describe his humble abode: “classy.”

One of the most compelling characteristics of Shea’s room is his handcrafted and impressively stocked bar, the result of an abundance of spare time during Winter Study. He bought wood, nails and glue and produced a functional bar space, which of course has already come in handy on multiple occasions. “It still has to be lacquered,” though, he said as he craftily made a tip jar out of a pencil cup and added a handful of change. A light-up Boonville Beer sign and a small Corona poster accentuate the pub-like feel. In the future, he would love to earn a bartending license; in the meantime, Shea always welcomes new customers.

Adding to his “Americana hunting lodge-like” quarters – and maybe even more distinctive than the bar – is his collection of wildlife. Entrymate Lizzy Kildahl ’14 said, “There’s nothing like taxidermy animals to make you feel at home.” His JA Margie Fulton ’12 added, “The dead dogfish gives it a homey feel.” A small piranha figurine sits atop one of the plastic log-slab shelves he ordered from Amazon, which also displays his Planet Earth DVD series. There would have been a mounted deer head, but unfortunately the antlers broke during shipping. A welcome mat at his door depicts three horses splashing through water. He even has touches of flora, including a struggling plant from Stop & Shop that he recently pruned and will nurse back to life and a Christmas garland he stole from the common room. You wouldn’t know it from his habit of five-hour marathons of Greek, but Shea does consider himself an outdoorsy person, as he has been duck hunting once and enjoys the occasional hike.

Touches of his hometown, San Francisco, add a contrasting spark to his “man cave-type of situation,” as he labels it. A collection of colorful Nikes is stuffed into the shelves of his bedside table, and the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle celebrating the Giants’ 2010 victory is proudly mounted on the wood-panel wallpaper. He also has a huge California state flag hanging on the “brick” wall, and he keeps his Bay Area-style stunner shades perched on the dinosaur desk lamp his mother gave him.

Shea enjoys the fact that he is “completely self-sufficient” in his rustic lodging, and he would probably never leave if it were not for the petty obligations of class and lacrosse practice. Netflix streams through his X-Box, and he has the luxury of watching movies and playing “Call of Duty” or “Tiger Woods” on his 22-inch television. The fridge under his bed seems stocked with enough “pizzas-for-one” – which he can microwave without stepping a foot on the ground – to last the whole winter. Also within arm’s reach is a five-month-old box of cookies and a massive tub of protein powder which fuels his workouts, and more importantly, his marathons of gaming and quality TV shows. He and his friends are often found enjoying Greek, Psych, and Blue Mountain State (what Shea likes to call “real college”).

Surprisingly, the various aspects of Shea’s room mesh together seamlessly, despite the numerous motifs and odd collectables. The room is continuously evolving, as he orders whimsical additions one at a time, depending on his mood. As his neighbor Adrian Castro ’14 said, “There’s no way to describe his room, or Austin for that matter. It’s just Austin.”