Hmmm, do you think the man cave concept was invented by men who wanted solitude, or their women who wanted peace and quiet? ~Susan
Every man needs a fortress of solitude—here’s how to get started
Man caves are as diverse as the men who build them. Some are dedicated to a particular manly obsession (a workshop, a gaming den, a football shrine), while others can be as simple as an armchair and a bookshelf—but there are a few essentials that every man cave needs. If you’re thinking of staking a claim on one of the spare rooms, keep these factors in mind:
This decision will determine the “feel” of your man cave. If you want a workshop where you can dig into messy hobbies, consider replacing your carpet with a cheap, non-porous tile or linoleum. You can also stick with the wood or concrete subfloor, but make sure to sand it down and apply a healthy finish so that messes like paint, oil, or food are easier to clean.
If you’re looking for a mellow “decompression chamber”, you can stick with the existing carpet, or even install some nice shag—you’ll have to be more careful with food and drink, but it’s great for bare feet, and carpeting a single room is much more affordable than an entire home.
If you’re looking for a place to get away from technology, you can ignore this step—but most modern man caves will include a computer or a TV (or a computer hooked up to the TV). If you love movies or sports, surround-sound is a great idea that can be as expensive or as cheap as you’d like. For gamers, consider souping up your PC—it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the average off-the-shelf “gamer bundle” at Best Buy, and all you need to get started is a screwdriver and some Youtube tutorials.
Before you carve out your domain, make sure your prospective man cave has the necessary outlets. If you want to watch TV, you’ll need an RG6 coaxial outlet for either dish or cable—and if you’re a gamer, make sure you’ve got an Ethernet outlet with a wireless router close enough to avoid latency issues.
For a high-energy, workshop-style man cave, a bar stool or even a standing desk can be the solution you need; but if you’re looking for a place to unwind with a book or a game, you’ll need something you can sink into at the end of the day. A nice recliner will get the job done, but if you plan on having buddies over to watch (or play) a game, a reclining sectional is even better. Leather is easier to clean, but cloth upholstery is more comfy for naps, and generally a lot cheaper.
4. Paint and hangings
Décor might not seem like the manliest of considerations, but your cave’s color and style can really make a difference. For a workspace, paint in warm colors and let light in to help you feel energized. Cool, rich colors will maintain a relaxed vibe. Make things as classy or as tacky as you’d like—line the walls with bookshelves and art, or fill them with posters and sports memorabilia. Some guys just need a place to display all the ugly stuff that their S.O. won’t allow anywhere else in the house—and that’s a perfectly valid role for the man cave.
5. Odds and ends
Most of what your man cave needs will be a matter of taste and your budget—it can be as simple as a reading room or as insane as a replica of the Enterprise battle bridge—but there are a few constants that most guys enjoy. A well-stocked mini-fridge (and a nearby bathroom) can help you stay out of touch when you want to, and allows for easy hospitality when you’ve got friends over. You’d also be shocked to hear how easy it is to install a secret door behind a false bookcase—and if there’s a cooler way to get in and out of the man cave, I haven’t heard it.
Mike Freiberg is a staff writer for HomeDaddys, a resource for stay-at-home dads, work-at-home dads, and everything in between. He’s a handyman, an amateur astronomer, and a tech junkie, who loves being home with his two kids. He lives in Austin.