David Collins9-Minute Read
UPDATED: July 10, 2023
Sometimes, we all just a need a place to be alone. In busy American homes, most kids have their own room. Women are building she-sheds. And men are going back to their cave.
Many men dream about having a private space within their own home so they can relax and enjoy their hobbies or interests. These rooms are known as “man caves” and have become increasingly popular.
And with more and more men working from home, a man cave can also be for work, with at least part of their space devoted to a desk, bookshelves and office tech.
Most men don’t keep their cave all to themselves, however. A home theater can be great for family movie night. Dad can take on the kids in a game of Fortnite in his game room. And the basement pub is a great place to have the neighbors over for drinks.
A man cave is a place men can retreat to while at home. It’s often located in the basement, but it can also be in a garage or other outbuilding, an attic space or even an extra bedroom. There, he can watch the golf tournament on TV, hang out with friends, enjoy a few indulgences or just relax.
The term “man cave” gained popularity after it was discussed in the popular book “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” by John Gray. While the gender-specific term has received strong criticism for being just that, the concept has gained wide acceptance anyway.
In the same way, the term “she shed” is used to describe the female equivalent – a space designed for a woman to retreat from a busy household, relax, indulge and pursue her hobbies.
Since a man cave is typically set up in a little used or unfinished area of your house, such as a basement, garage or attic, consider it a blank canvas for a thematic interior design that reflects your personality and interests.
A very common theme is sports, of course. Autographed jerseys, posters, photographs, helmets and framed newspaper pages – all arranged around a big-screen TV and a sofa – help to create a great atmosphere for watching the big game.
If you prefer to play video or card games, design a room with a theme that coordinates with that both functionally and aesthetically. The most important part of any man cave design is that it makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Here are some common themes:
Some man caves stick to a theme like one of those listed above, but many include a mash-up of several themes, with the overarching theme being: “dudes.” Regardless of any one theme, here are the kinds of things you’ll typically find in a man cave:
Unless you are very DIY, the cost of hiring out contractors to build a really nice, dedicated man cave can run well into the thousands. To justify that expense, your man cave should be a place that you will really use and get great satisfaction from. Think about what you ideally want your man cave to be, and then build it. It can help to start with a theme, but every theme has variations just as you have unique tastes. Feel free to mix and match and make it yours. Here are some popular man cave genres.
When you need a break from screens, find entertainment the old-fashioned way inside a classic game room. Choose game pieces made of rich woods, including a billiards table, dartboard, poker table and chess or backgammon set. Tall wooden bookshelves can be the perfect storage space for a large board game collection. If you prefer table games and have the space, consider adding a pool table, foosball table or poker table.
Movie buffs will enjoy a quiet space to screen their favorite movies in what feels like an actual movie theater (at a much lower cost). For better views, install a platform to create tiered seating, with one row of oversized, leather home theater recliners on the platform and another row in front of it.
Connect your cable, streaming services and gaming consoles to have endless options of movies and TV shows. A sound system that features surround sound will heighten the experience even more. Of course, no home theater is complete without a concession stand, so keep a mini fridge or vintage popcorn cart in the corner for quick refills during the show.
If you love working out, you may choose to use your bonus space as a home gym. Home gyms are usually best in garages, basements or spaces without rooms underneath. Add your desired equipment such as weights, a treadmill or an exercise bike. Add a TV or sound system for entertainment, a large mirror for checking your form, a fan to keep it cool and a mini fridge to keep yourself hydrated.
A home office isn’t the most glamorous of man caves, but it can be a super practical use of space. If you need to work from home, making a home office is a great idea. Make the space really custom to your working needs with a comfy chair and extra desktop monitors so you can really immerse yourself in your work.
You could also make a home office look like an at-home library if you have a large book collection. Having floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with books and large leather chairs can add to the office feel.
A sports-themed man cave can be the perfect replacement for sports bars and arenas for you and your friends to watch the big games. Get a big-screen TV with surround sound to make it feel even more like you’re at the game. The trend among fantasy sports players and sports gamblers is to have multiple screens tuned to different games.
Get creative with your seating options by installing bleachers or stadium seats. Decorate the walls with sports memorabilia and jerseys of your favorite teams and add different sports memorabilia, like helmets or balls, to bare spaces. Use lockers to store personal items and outline the floor to look like your favorite sport’s court or field.
With a bar in your basement, happy hour can happen at home. Putting it together can be as simple as building a bar counter with bar stools and a place to store your glasses and bottles of liquor. A mini fridge can hold beers and mixers along with such drink garnishes as limes, olives and cherries. Of course, man cave bars can and do become fully built-out home pubs.
If your bar doesn’t include storage for glassware and mixologist tools, consider getting a bar cart, cabinet or bookshelf to hold and display everything you need for a functioning bar. You’ll also want to include bar stool seating for samplings and conversation. Add some music and a big-screen TV and you have your own personal sports bar.
A wine cellar can be a great option for narrow rooms and basements because wine needs a cool, dark climate to age properly. The ideal temperature for wine storage is around 55 degrees, though different types of wine require different temperatures. No matter the wine, you don’t want to go higher than around 65 degrees and you don’t want the temperature to fluctuate much. Sunlight is very bad in a wine cellar.
For the most functional wine cellar, you’ll need wine racks and shelving to properly store and display your collection of bottles and the proper glasses and hardware. If you have champagne, dessert wines, sparkling wines or wines that require temps in the 40s, a wine cooler may be ideal.
Whether you plan to record music or podcasts, it’s absolutely essential that you build a proper soundproof room. When choosing space for a recording studio, make sure you consider:
Make sure you soundproof the room – house noises will ruin your recordings while your noise can be disruptive to the rest of the house. To do this, lay down rugs and install acoustic soundproofing foam to the walls. Using high-quality headphones can also help. Depending on what you’re recording, you’ll need the proper equipment, which often includes microphones, pop filters, a mixing board and a computer with digital audio software.
A collector’s man cave can provide a space to store and show off your collection, whether that be sports or movie memorabilia, action figures or comic books, etc. You’ll want to have ample shelving to hold your collection, along with protective display cases for rarer items that need protection from moisture or dust.
If you collect art, photographs, stamps or comic books, consider displaying them with a gallery wall. Whatever your collection, you may require special equipment to make sure the room’s climate is ideal for keeping your collection in mint condition. For example, stamps should be kept at room temperature (about 60 – 70 degrees) and around 50% humidity.
If you like tinkering with hobbies like woodworking, metal working or car repair, the garage might be the perfect place for your man cave. But converting your garage could take some work. Set up your dream workshop with a big worktable and ample storage for all of your tools. Don’t forget to use pegboards to hang and display tools on the wall to take advantage of the vertical space.
Garage workshops need to keep lighting and temperature control in mind. Assuming that your space is unfinished, you will want to install large fans to keep the air from getting stagnant. Also consider installing additional overhead lighting so you can work well, even at night.
How much your project will cost is arbitrary, of course. It depends on the size of the space, where it’s located and how much special equipment is required. Most hobby enthusiast sources state that you can easily spend $20,000 or more on a man cave, but it can also be done for just a few thousand dollars if you’re able to do most of the work yourself.
Location is key to cost. If you’re finishing a basement you have the advantage of already built four walls, a floor and a ceiling that is presumably insulated, wired for electricity and perhaps even plumbed with a sink or full bathroom. However, if you’re converting a barn or other outbuilding, you may have to establish hookups for utilities and do extra drywall and insulation.
It’s best to have a solid plan and an idea of costs before you even start. You can also set a budget based on available cash. Many man caves are financed by a home improvement loan, a cash-out refinance or a home equity loan.
Like any home improvement, a man cave can add equity to your home – meaning it will increase the value of your home when you decide to sell. How much equity depends on how much you invested and the cleverness of your design. A well-executed man cave can be what sets your home apart from others. If a young couple is house hunting and they can really see themselves enjoying the man cave you’ve built for yourself, they are more likely to pay more.
A man cave is not just for men – it can be a great refuge for everyone in the family at different times. But it’s where a man can go to watch a ballgame or do some woodworking while remaining close by if he’s needed elsewhere in the house.
Before starting on your man cave, do some research and have a plan, so that every dime spent and all your efforts create the excellent refuge you’ve imagined. If financing for this project is a question, consider applying for a personal loan.
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