These Dens Are Smoking – WSJ

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Tobacco aficionados create luxury rooms in their homes that keep the smoke away from others , home with features that keep smoke from filtering beyond the room. Venture capitalist Josh Linkner says the large cigar den in his 9,000-square-foot home in a suburb of Detroit is a place for reflection, reading, listening to music and writing.

“It’s kind of my little retreat,” says Mr. Linkner, who lives with his wife and two children in a Tudor-style home overlooking a golf course. He spent $75,000 on his smoking den, with some of the money going toward a high-powered ventilation system that keeps the smoke out of the rest of the house.

Inside Mr. Smith's smoking den

Inside Mr. Smith’s smoking den

Mr. Linkner, who also smokes a pipe, said his love for cigars goes back to time spent as a teenager with his father, a smoker and chess enthusiast. “I had some very tender moments with him while smoking cigars and playing a game of chess,” he says.

Luxury homeowners are increasingly willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to create elegant smoking retreats with high-end fixtures. For most, a common denominator is what is called an energy-recovery ventilation system, or ERV. It has high-powered fans that suck smoky air from inside the room and send it through charcoal filters—in its own duct work—before venting it outside. The system also draws in fresh outdoor air that the unit cools and dehumidifies, or heats and humidifies, depending on the desired indoor climate. A typical ERV unit costs about $5,000, including installation.

Some features inside Mr. Smith's den include sealed and finished wood on the floors, walls and ceiling, and a powerful smoke-eating ventilation system

Some features inside Mr. Smith’s den include sealed and finished wood on the floors, walls and ceiling, and a powerful smoke-eating ventilation system

Smoking dens have other design features to repel odors and discoloration. Hardwood floors that are stained and sealed block smoke better than carpet. Walls and ceilings are covered with wood paneling or other sealed finishes that protect the underlying drywall, which is porous and will absorb smoke and odors.

The décor typically features dark-colored paints to mask smoke’s long-term staining effect. Wendy Carter, who co-runs Aartvarks Studios, a wall-finishing and mural company in Spring Branch, Texas, says she uses hues of brown stain on the walls to give surfaces a rich, warm look.






Mr. Smith's Fayetteville, Ark., home

Mr. Smith’s Fayetteville, Ark., home

Leather furniture is preferred because it doesn’t hold the smell of smoke the way fabric upholstery can. And “sweeps” installed on door bottoms keep smoke from escaping.

Lee Scarlett, president of Celtic Custom Homes, says he has constructed several elaborate smoking rooms in his area of Fayetteville, Ark.

He put a cigar den in his own home that has maple floors, paneled walls and a fireplace. It cost him about $20,000, including a $3,000 ERV.

One of his clients, attorney Jim Smith, 49, has similar features in the $25,000 den of his 6,400 square-foot, Old English-style Fayetteville home. Mr. Smith spends time reading, sitting by the fireplace or watching TV in the room. He says it is an escape from muggy summers and snowy winters. “I wanted to have a place where I could smoke a cigar in a comfortable setting and do it year-round,” he says.

Real-estate investor Jeff Carter built a smoking den in his six-bedroom, seven-bathroom San Antonio home. The room is fashioned in alligator-print walls and includes two leather chairs and a round coffee table with a crystal ashtray and cigar holder. His ERV system funnels smoke through the attic to the outside.

Mr. Carter paid about $8,000 for the Mediterranean-style home’s smoking room, which has a centerpiece humidor that holds up to 1,200 cigars. “I don’t call it a man cave because a lot of women love it, too,” he says. “Your friends all want to come over because they can’t believe that you have a cigar room in your house.”