Few things paint such a vivid picture as the words male living space.
As the name suggests, this label is usually bestowed upon the home of college-aged, cisgender men. This group does not own exclusive rights to the male living space, but it is most prevalent within this community.
For those who haven’t run into this phenomena, it's a space that takes battling design concepts and combines them to make something wholly unique. Take the junk collecting of a hoarder’s storage shed, and combine it with the ingenuity of a minimalist.
It is simultaneously disgusting and elegant. Disorganized yet understandable. The epitome of yin and yang.
Once again, let’s paint a picture.
The first thing you’ll likely notice upon walking into a male living space is how much of the decor is stolen. Traffic cones, street signs and generally anything your tax dollars paid for can be found adorning the walls and floors of the living room.
Sure, the argument could be made that the stop sign above the third-hand couch is evidence of a crime. But to those who gathered it from the streets of college-ville, it's a memory of a good night with “the boys.”
The second thing you’ll see alongside Department of Transportation memorabilia is a number of items that were never intended for their current use.
Your dad gave you an old cooler before you left for college? It’s now what you eat dinner on every night. That folding table you found beside an apartment complex dumpster? It’s now the entertainment center, equipped with three PlayStation 4s that have the same six games downloaded on each of them.
This truly is the yang mentioned earlier. While many students would hop on AmazonBasics and order suitable furniture for their needs, the male living space takes a page out of organizing consultant Marie Kondo’s book. Why buy a loveseat when you can have a perfectly good stack of milk crates? No reason to invest in a side table when you have the box it would’ve come in.
The living room isn’t the only room in this design template that has a signature look. The kitchen continues the trend of resourcefulness in this lifestyle.
While the average male living space probably had an assortment of ceramic plates and bowls at one time, the fumbling hands of the residents and their guests have probably resulted in the borderline extinction of such dishes. The cabinets are now bare, saved for a collection of cups stolen from sporting events the residents attended over the years.
If you take a look into the fridge, you’ll realize dishes weren’t needed anyway. While the great wall of condiments and sauces on the door may imply scrumptious recipes are being prepared daily, this is merely a red herring. The only ingredients found on the shelves are a collection of takeout containers and rotting meal preps — another example of the deeply rooted minimalism inherent in the male living space.
Some naysayers may look at the male living space in disgust, claiming it as an example of inconsideration of college-aged men. They jokingly yell at these residents to “buy a bed frame” or “get an air fryer” over Twitter, with an air of superiority only those who eat out of low bowls can muster.
Though the male version is simply one form of college living space — and it is arguably only one of many questionable situations.
Many don’t talk about the four-week-old rotting produce on their fridge shelves. Many are keen to ignore the box dye still littering their bathroom sink. Male living spaces may not have proper chairs, but critics are sitting a few feet away from a bong full of stale and fermented water.
Instead of criticizing the male living space, I believe we should accept it for what it is: A beautiful and increasingly smelly mixture of ingenuity, simplicity and the young adult lifestyle.
This story is part of our 2022 spring housing guide. Read the full issue here.
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