The 5 Essentials of Any Man Cave

There’s a reason why American homes mainly consists of the same combination of rooms. While the details vary, we live our lives in much the same way. Sleep in a bedroom, wake ourselves up with a pot of coffee or a bowl of cereal, go to work, come home, relax. Bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen and a living room are going to be found, in some form or another, in just about every home you enter.

Once those needs are satisfied however, we start branching out. One of the first “bonus rooms” an American family may indulge in is a man cave. While this room may stereotypically be for the sole use of the man in the house, the other family members can benefit, too, or even have their own version to enjoy. The “mom cave” and children’s play rooms are worth talking about, but not the focus for today. It may be a cliché, but a man cave is on many a father’s wish list for good reason.

Everyone needs a space to call their own. Children usually have bedrooms, stamped with personal identity all over the walls. The mother’s taste often (but not always) dominates the rest of the house. A man can assert his style in a man cave.

A man cave can also be a place for all the passions and pursuits that might be shunned from other areas of the house. Kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms have their own purpose, but having a place purely for play can be fun for everybody.

There are a lot of considerations that go into creating a man cave, from where it will be, to how it’ll be built, but there are five things that every man cave needs, whether it takes up an entire basement or a converted shed in the backyard.

The 5 essentials of any man cave:

1. Entertainment

2. Entertainment (yes, I put this twice)

​3. Seating

4. Sustenance

​5. Passions and Pursuits

Entertainment (Passive) ​​

As you noticed, I listed entertainment twice. As I was making this list, I had “entertainment” first and “games” later down the list. Some people might lump them into the same heading, but I really feel they needed separate designations.

The first type of entertainment is your TV, your stereo system, magazines, books, etc. We’re going to call it passive entertainment. This is the sort of thing you want to entertain yourself with at the end of a long day: an activity that you can do without much engagement. Everyone needs to just check out once in a while and whether you prefer watching your favorite sports team, popping in a movie, or zoning out in a good book, it’s fulfilling the same purpose: to unwind.

Some considerations:

  • Size of TV, stereo system, etc.

  • Versatility (How wide is the viewing angle? Can it be moved?)

  • How much space do you need for your library? How will you organize it?

  • How are the acoustics?

Entertainment (Active)

The line between passive and active entertainment isn’t exactly a science, but what I mean by active entertainment is those activities that require more involvement than just tuning out and watching TV. These can include video or arcade games, tables games like billiards, foosball, ping pong, etc.; a little putting green, or group tabletop games like cards, board games, or roleplaying.

An activity on one side of the line for one guy might not be on the same side for another. Some people also prefer one side of the line to the other, but I don’t think the stereotypical slack-jawed dude zoning out to a football game with a can of beer in his hand (while not altogether unappealing) is exactly fair.

Helpful tips:

  • Envision yourself in your ideal setting. What are you doing? Who are you with?

  • Make a list of all the activities you might possibly be interested in then put them into another list, ranking them from best to least-best. This’ll help you prioritize what you actually want to spend your time and money on.

Seating

This is a duh, but could be over looked when considering all the fun things you want to put in your man cave. Depending on space, this might just be the most comfortable recliner you can get your hands on, but if you’ve got a little more room to play with, consider what you’ll be using the space for and who’re you going to be sharing it with. Sectionals are versatile option, offering space to stretch out and get comfortable, but also plenty of seating when you have guests.

If a big, high-definition screen is the focus of your man cave, consider stadium seating for the best viewing experience possible. You can maintain an optimal viewing angle and focus your sound system where it counts.

Sustenance

The thing about a relaxing environment is you’re going to want to spend a lot of time there. The longer you stay the more likely you’re going to need some sustenance, so you can stay even longer.

Here are some ideas:

  • Mini-bar

  • Liquor cabinet

  • Coffee bar

  • Wine cellar

  • A place for all your tumblers, steins, flutes and glasses

  • Popcorn machine

  • A kitchenette

  • A cabinet full of snacks

  • A vending machine a la “Big.” A soda dispenser looks cool in a man cave, but rig it up so you don’t have to keep feeding it money.

Passions and Pursuits

​​​

Again, this could be classified under entertainment, but in my mind, there is definitely a distinction. Though it’s easy to spend my free time vegging out watching Netflix, I like to surround myself with things that will actually strengthen my mind, instead of turning it to mush. A man cave is a great place to try some new things in the privacy of your own personal bubble. This is a place to proudly display all of things that make you the unique individual you are, be they geeky, sporty, a little eccentric, etc.

My place would probably have a world map on the wall, a writing desk in the corner, and a model railroad, complete with a miniature village, built around the outside of the room. This is also a good place to consider a theme. I don’t know about you, but the coolest man caves I’ve seen are the ones that have a clear style to them. Whatever you decide on, commit to it.

Some good themes include:

  • Golf

  • Sports in general

  • Classic study

  • Racing

  • Western

  • Cinema

  • An old ship’s captain’s quarters

  • Gothic (like armor, weaponry and a coat of arms)

  • Rock n’ Roll

  • Fantasy

  • Fishing

  • Hunting

Example Passions and Pursuits:

  • Home gym

  • Music

  • Astronomy

  • History

  • Computers

  • Art

  • Photography

  • Home brewing

Check out more ideas and inspiration at Fox River Rendering's Man Caves Pinterest page.

And finally, here's mine. I sketched out a little floor plan of what I would put in my man cave. I may not be a man, but I thought this was really fun. I used the dimensions of the basement in the house I used to live in, to give myself a real "what if" scenario.

You can probably tell a lot about me from this plan. Take note that a bookshelf takes up an entire wall. There is not only a globe, but also a wall map as well. I definitely included a comfy place to just relax, but I also added a large table to get together with friends, and corner for getting some creative work done.

I recommend making lists and sketching out ideas, then looking up inspiration online. Research always helps. Just don't forget to stop researching and actually get started. You can always change it as your tastes evolve.

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