It’s time we further our discussion on the Man Cave, where men can be men.
I should preface all this with telling you I’m a pretty staunch feminist. I like equality. I’m big on that. And yet, I think every dad needs to have a man cave.
Men and women both sacrifice a lot to marry or live together, and the cliches tend to be true — often it’s the women who do the decorating and make a lot of the shared living space decisions. Most of the guys I know don’t tend to put up a fight when their wives like a certain look, and it’s great that they acquiesce.
I’m blessed that men I know all seem to be terrific dads who put their kids and families first. If being able to retreat for a few precious hours a week to a room that speaks to them is what keeps them happy and sacrificing so their kids and families are always in first place, then isn’t that a great thing?
If you have the cash to do a value-adding complete renovation for a man cave like my friend Geoff did, then great, but even if you’re just doing cosmetic touches to makeover a room, the principals are all the same.
Color your world
There’s no reason you have to opt for charcoal grey, black, or white, like so many man caves I see. Instead, think of expressive colors, like the blue in Geoff’s space, or so many other shades of blue. Consider others like eggplant, chocolate brown, fiery reds and oranges, and other dramatic and bold shades.
Textiles and fabrics
A lot of mancaves seem to skip textile treatments and this saddens me. Fabrics can look and feel very manly. Think of plaid woolen blankets, tartans. Consider decorative pillows covered in thick corduroy or flannel or even old pinstripe suiting found at a thrift store and reinvented.
Think of large sweeping curtains with bold stripes or chevrons or other clean linear looks. You can make a throw pillow cover out of everything from an old plaid shirt through to rugged old jeans. Even treating a wall in something like burlap can add interest while still seeming rustic and manly.
As much as they’re never something I’m wild about, it’s true that sectional sofas and overstuffed leather sofas are a popular choice in mancaves. So are theatre-style seating, barstools, comfy recliners. These all suit manly spaces simply because they’re about comfort and function.
Leather is popular obviously for the biker feel. But why not think outside the box and rig up an indoor hammock? Beanbag chairs are great. For tables and lighting, think anything in metal, glass, wood, stone — natural materials with clean lines, so it doesn’t add to the big and chunky look offered by seating choices.
From guitars to western-theme items to sports paraphernalia, there are a lot of go-to things you’ll find adorning the walls in a man cave. But there can be so many more.
What about a surf-style room where the coffee table is an old surfboard mounted on legs, and the bar is Tiki-style? What about a film lover’s movie-room with framed classic movie posters from the ‘60s on up, like the incredible graphics of Hitchcock’s Vertigo poster or Pulp Fiction or the original King Kong, or Jack Nicholson’s leering face on The Shining? What about a SCUBA-diver’s dream space with an aquarium, and walls with mounted stuffed trophy fish?
How about an engineer’s man cave complete with a large poster of the periodic table and a funky science instruments? Think of the customizing you could do for a passionate hiker — from mountain murals, to carabiners holding hanging lamps on the ceiling.
A man cave is the perfect place to take someone’s livelihood or passion and build a theme around it. Let’s face it, the old sports “pendants, helmets, and t-shirts” theme has gotten a little tired, and there’s much, much more out there.
Unlike the tired sports theme in man caves, there are a lot of elements that might be cliche but for good reason. This means bars for drinks and beers, pool tables, audio-visual equipment, musical instruments, games, and poker tables.
After all, it’s about hanging out and having fun, taking a break from the daily responsibilities. For accessories, from kegerators to “collectible” shrines, anything goes. Just try to put it together without too much chaos. Group like items together and create “zones” of decor, like you would anywhere else in your home.
Make it yours
In the end, manly is as manly does. There are rules to be broken or upheld, all depending on whatever floats your manly boat. If you want a vivid, bright, Caribbean-feeling space, then go for it. If you’re into a mint-green space evoking a ‘50s diner complete with an ice cream counter-cum-bar, then why not? If the psychedelic ‘60s rock your world, then go for purple paint, paisley wallpaper, and a blacklight.
That’s the beauty of making a space your own. Interpretation is entirely up to you. If you’re looking at the idea of making a man cave, don’t feel like you’re stuck with a dark, dingy space, especially if that doesn’t reflect who you are. There’s no rule here. It’s about the cave YOU want to crawl into and hide out in. What’s that going to include?