In 2012, Merriam-Webster added the term “man cave” to its dictionary. The definition is listed as “a room or space (as in a basement) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities.” Three years since their official debut into the English language, these male sanctuaries are still going strong.
The versatility of man caves might have something to do with their popularity. Man-centric spaces pop up everywhere from basements and spare bedrooms to dens and empty garages. They can range from simple hideouts to luxury retreats.
A dream man cave starts with the basics. Comfortable furniture such as overstuffed recliners and oversized sectionals set the tone for lounging. A fully stocked bar and a kitchenette with a sink, refrigeration and a dishwasher are perfect for hosting guests. Framed posters, sports memorabilia and neon clocks and signs are common décor items. Man caves often become gaming zones that feature dart boards, pool tables and shuffleboards. Fred Schmidt, owner of Schmidt Billiards & Game Rooms, says he specializes in custom designs, such as printing a client’s fraternity crest or the logo of their favorite sports team on a pool table cloth.
“A man cave is a place for a guy to escape from working life, and to have buddies over to relax and have a good time,” he says. “A pool table is conversation furniture. Guys like to talk, and enjoy a friendly competition when they get together.”
Anne Moore, owner of D&M Sound, says she has helped many clients outfit their man caves with top-of-the-line audio and video equipment. Her staff has installed multiple LED flat-screen TVs in single man caves for watching several events at once. They’ve created home cinemas with projection screens as large as 120 inches. She’s seen personal theaters with complete concession stands that include popcorn machines, soda stations and candy dispensers. Moore says ultra–high-definition 4K TVs, which have four times as many pixels as the current 1080p resolution sets, are one of the hottest new trends.
“A lot of people are spending more time at home,” Moore says. “The entertaining is usually focused on a media center.”
Moore says high-quality sound products are necessities that take a man cave to the next level. She recommends a surround–sound receiver, five to nine speakers and at least one subwoofer for an exciting, realistic experience when watching sports and movies.
“Sound has so much to do with getting involved in what you are watching, often more so than the screen size,” she explains. “If you want no-hassle plug-and-play, sound bars have improved greatly and they take up less space. But they can’t offer you the thrill of true theater sound.”
There are a few other accessories that should be on your man cave wish list. For example, a custom remote control eliminates the need for more than one device, and allows for one-touch operation of audio, visual and lighting systems. Media servers store thousands of your favorite movies and albums as a single digital collection. On a practical note, Moore says a power management/surge protection device with plenty of plug-ins, and coaxial and LAN/Ethernet protection is invaluable.
“Don’t buy just a power strip,” she says. “Your audio-visual gear is full of sensitive electronics and hard drive storage that can be destroyed by a power surge. There doesn’t have to be a direct lightning hit to cause damage.”
The only downside to men stocking their private pads with the coolest amenities and creature comforts is the risk of having to share their hangouts with other members of the household.
“Man caves sometimes turn into family caves,” Moore says. “They are not always exclusively men’s retreats.”