By definition, what has come to be known as “the man cave” demands a movie monitor of inordinate scale. Nothing below 65 inches diagonal—probably more like 70- to 80 inches—but of course. With projection.
Only the walls and ceiling of the room can hem in the man cave owner’s imagination. Surround sound entailing no less than four speakers and one sub-woofer (with eight speakers and two sub-woofers taking the prize) is essential, and with it the ability to burst ear drums with a single remote.
If not located in a subterranean sinkhole, all windows should be simultaneously shaded, quietly purring shut via electronic drapes, blinds or shutters. Thickly padded walls will assure that no telltale slasher movies, raunchy comedies or “Terminator” sci-fi violence will seep beyond.
Placed at least 10 feet from this mesmerizing scrim of entertainment must be located the cushiest of motion furniture. The Captain Kirks of mancavia enjoy not only tilting, gliding and swiveling recliners, but it helps if they are slathered in calf-skin leather and swollen with soft stuffing. They rulers of the land of the man cave also enjoy drink cups sunk in the arm rest, LED reading lights and a built-in massage feature that boldly rolls up and down one’s spine. A vibrator in the footrest is a plus!
Next to this seat of power is the “Trek”-like console that masterminds this world of electronic wizardry, requiring only the swipe of a well placed digit. Soothingly lit by dimmable light coves, the ceiling must dissolve into a blackened night time sky, pierced by hundreds of tiny LED bulbs, twinkling like stars in Orion’s belt. And the underside of the stepped platform’s overhang must feature a soft trail of amber light that carefully guides the stumbling guest to his swiveling, tilting, reclining seat.
Now if one mistakes this man cave for a home theatre, one would be wrong because deep behind the motion furniture and facing the screen must be a large desk/console embedded in which are monitors facing upwards under the thick glass top,so that the man caveé can watch several channels of market updates from TV monitors set up arena-style on top of the desk with a gap in the center through which one can view the movie beyond. Man caves cater to attention deficit disorder.
As a repository for reams of sports paraphernalia, mounted jerseys, baseball caps, autographed balls, endless photographs of celebrity outings, college games, pennants, sophomoric placards, awards and trophies of varying degree of quality—the walls and bookcases of the man cave are invaluable, particularly in a windowless basement where stuff can actually take the cold clammy chill out of the gray, sunless void.
Where to put the loyal graduate’s senior chair emblazoned with the school crest and some indecipherable decals in Latin? In the man cave: where more can be more.
As an investment in the home, a well appointed man cave can easily become a winning feature, particularly when carved out of a cheerless, windowless basement. For less investment than one might think, the media systems, pile carpeting, bookcases and plush moving furniture will most likely thrill 50 percent of the home buyers and please the female sorts who might wish to be released from the grunts, shouts, yells and cursing that accompanies the intrepid sports watchers.
All snootery aside, I have seen, created and been witness to many stunning man caves. My good friend Susan’s husband, Joe, has a particularly attractive man cave which he calls “the Wyoming Room.”
The requisite large screen is buried in the eaves of the house while a caramel sisal carpet is layered with Navajo, Oriental and Guatemalan rugs. The V-groove walls are painted a light sand color, with black and white college photos framed in wood and covering the paneling.
A deep comfortable chair is upholstered in deer hide, which salutes stuffed animal trophies scattered here and there. A large mahogany desk sits in between bookcases lined with books that are actually read. The bookcases have paintings of Wyoming scenes hung on them. A few western metal street signs populate the walls.
A computer is buried by books, jars of pencils and pens, pamphlets and a glass or two. Though thoroughly organized, the stacked clutter speaks of life in motion, of comfort and easy accessibility to many sentimental treasures and memories of significance.
For Susan, her husband’s Wyoming Room is a resting place for many of the items she does not want to showcase in the rest of the house, but which she feels is important for Joe’s connection to his roots. It’s also a room, she realizes, that he can totally feel comfortable with whatever paraphernalia he enjoys but does not meld easily into their life together.
The man cave can also be a marriage preserver.
One client, Bob, loved the University of Michigan and insisted on an accurately colored rendition throughout his home. Michigan’s colors are blackish navy and excruciating yellow—sort of a combination between taxi cab yellow and urine.
His wife HATED the colors. So to preserve their marriage, I promised him not a Michigan-themed house, but a man cave of his dreams complete with custom-designed carpet with crests, trophy cases upholstered in pennants and plaid wool curtains in an actual Scottish tartan (yes, he is Scotch) combining the two colors.
I designed a paneled library in a caramel pine that could complement and calm the excruciating yellow. I stained the curtain rods the black navy color and selected brass rings and brass M-shaped finials, whose yellow metal color complemented the urinal yellow reflecting its unusual jaundiced hue.
Comfortable swivel chairs, a yellow breche marble mantel and an enormous monitor tucked subtly behind a brass-framed two-way mirror added the cherries to the topping. I even surprised myself; it was so beautiful. And the room reeked of collegiate team spirit.
During the NCAA, the room was a huge hit with basketball buddies in their Michigan sweatshirts just blending right in. It was the most unified environment of decorating and inhabitants I have ever seen!
In any case, Bob’s man cave saved the marriage, pleasing him and thrilling his wife. As for resale, I am not quite sure.
But do yourself a favor: Calm the alpha dog yearnings; find a place for and create a man cave. You will not regret it.