Cave sweet cave

Published 6:20 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2011

This is the man cave of Chris and Jennifer Mikell in Hampton Roads Crossing, which boasts a collection of sports memorabilia Chris has collected since a young age. -Photography by Paul Costen

By Janice Powell

There really are only two kinds of houses, those with strong personalities and those with little or none. This isn’t about architecture or the actual design of the structure, but the feeling you get when you cross the threshold — where you find the personality or you don’t.

Sometimes the personality is so evident, it seems one can know the family just by looking around. Other homes, often exquisitely decorated and furnished, tell nothing about their occupants. Outsiders could wonder who, if anyone, actually lives there.

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Clearly, the choice of furniture, fabric and color help to define the feel of a room, but the real personality of a home comes from the people who live there.

Are the accessories, books and wall décor simply objects selected because they fit with the style of the room, or do they have a special meaning for the family? A photographic reminder of a trip or vacation, books on a favorite hobby or historical figure, or a piece of artwork selected from a local art show help give a home true personality.

Or sometimes, there’s a wild boar’s head sporting a jaunty fedora with a band of Florida Gators football game ticket stubs mounted on the wall. Strong personality indeed! The “Man Cave” of Chris and Jennifer Mikell in the Hampton Roads Crossing neighborhood of North Suffolk is the envy of the neighborhood.

It’s not a garage full of mechanics’ tools or antique car parts, nor is it a giant media room with oversized leather lounge chairs and movie posters.

Instead, the Mikells have created in their third-floor “loft” a tastefully decorated, cozy room that reflects his Florida roots and their mutual passion for their alma mater, the University of Florida, and Gators football.

The walls are painted a muted brown, allowing the orange-and-blue framed Gators posters to carry most of the color in the room. Their sports memorabilia has been carefully edited, showcasing only the best of the best.

There’s a full-size bar, built by Chris, and comfortable seating for friends and neighbors to congregate comfortably on game day or movie night.

Behind the bar is an old mirror, framed with coasters from bars and restaurants near and far — he’s been collecting them since he was about 4. It’s an inventive, whimsical way to showcase his ever-growing collection. In homage to his hometown music heroes, the mirror is flanked by two rare and classic Lynyrd Skynyrd tour posters.

Sports jerseys are carefully aligned in a closet, along with autographed soccer balls, hockey pucks and football helmets.

The Mikells have created a comfortable and classic “Man Cave” that will stand the test of time and their mutual decorating styles.

Now about that boar’s head.

Janice Powell is owner and lead decorator at Powell Home in Suffolk. Think your home has what it takes to be featured in Suffolk Living? Email