A Beginner’s Guide to Man Caves

February 20, 2018
Robert Manziel

(Last modified on April 2nd, 2020)

A Beginner’s Guide to Man Caves

Welcome to TrueManCaves! For all of you just visiting to figure out this whole man cave thing, I want to extend a warm welcome. For everyone else, this little guide should provide a fair amount of knowledge to start up your man cave or improve what you already have. Starting out with absolutely zero knowledge about man caves proves difficult, but I help you work through every step of the way both with this guide and the rest of the site. By the end of this post, you should feel comfortable with the whole concept. Without further ado, let’s start our journey into the world of mantuaries with a beginner’s guide to man caves!

What are Man Caves?

First, let’s take a look at the definition of man caves. Man caves, mantuaries, and man spaces all refer to the same thing. A special room in your home—usually the basement—provides a highly specialized retreat for the man of the house. Inside this room, men do whatever they want, which includes things banned in the rest of the house like huge farts or belches. Hey, it’s our room, we do what we want! Drinking is also nearly a requirement. Unlike the rest of the house, the man decides the rules and the decor of the room. This little room is a one-stop-shop for some manly relaxation.

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Why Do I Need a Man Cave?

If your home is any good, you should be able to relax in every area of the house. So why would you need a man cave? Simply put, there are many different types of relaxation. In your living room, you sit back and enjoy your time apart from work and your social life. Maybe you chat with your wife or kids, cook a little bit, or watch television. However, due to the usual design and permissions of a house, there’s no way you get to turn on your color-changing lights and start blaring your favorite band. You can’t hang your favorite Star Wars poster on the wall. I mean, maybe you can, but most wives don’t allow it.

On top of all that, sometimes you just want some time to yourself, where you set all the rules that you need to follow. A man cave provides that space where you completely throw away your cares and relax for a few hours. Of course, escapism and hermit behavior would be a problem, but responsible men know their own limits. As such, by using a man cave to relax, they maximize the amount of soothing activities they achieve in what little time they make for it. A living room (family room), study (work room), bedroom (sleeping room), or dining room (social room) all serve a completely different function that doesn’t match the power of a man cave.

How Do I Pick a Location?

The first and most important part of building any man cave is choosing a proper location. Basements make the most popular locations—perhaps due to their similarity to actual caves—but they hardly represent the only option. Attics, garages, spare rooms, rented studios, and even backyard sheds work great as man caves. I even provide a bit of advice for setting up your own man cave shed here, if the house simply doesn’t have the space for it!

To decide between these places, think about the necessities of your cave. Do you need plumbing for a bar or convenient bathroom? Do you need a lot of electrical outlets? Or maybe you want a floor that can be scratched and ruined by woodworking, tinkering, or paint? All of these decisions affect which room is best for you. Pick the one that most suits your needs! If you still can’t decide based on what you need, then pick the one that gives you the most privacy.

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How Do I Work with Small Spaces?

Since many rooms end up unused because of their space limitations, and in turn go towards the whole man cave effort, lots of men end up working with space issues. I use a few different techniques to deal with these issues and even make the room appear large and airy. First, incorporate bright lighting. A small room usually has its packed furniture cast larger shadows in the room, so cutting down on those shadows opens up the room.

Second, ensure that you clear as much floor space as possible. This means building your amenities vertically, rather than horizontally. Choose tall shelves instead of wide, small entertainment setups, and hang furniture on the wall wherever possible. Make use of negative space in the room by limiting the amount of decor you use. A shelf of packed figurines, followed by a shelf of one or two ‘special’ ones, looks much more spacious than setting them up evenly on both shelves.

Lastly, think about extending the vertical space in your room. By building a simple foot-tall platform, you provide extra storage beneath it and a nice vantage point over the rest of the room. By establishing clear divisions, you make the room appear larger. Not a bad way to start adding space to the room, right?

What Goes in a Man Cave?

Now that you know what it is and where to put it, you might find yourself wondering, ‘What decor do I use?’ Simply put, find things that reflect you. Centering your man cave around a theme helps a ton, but ultimately, you want things that suit you. If you drink a lot, get one of those wall-mounted bottle openers so that it doesn’t wander away. If you like to game, a surround sound system, recliner, and huge TV are a must. For collectors and book lovers, building shelves into the wall defines the room as both a man cave and yours. Something about constructing permanent changes in the room just gives it more personality than, say, a store-bought shelf.

On top of the stuff you need in your life, think about the stuff that you want. Maybe you’re one of those people who like the singing bass decorations. I won’t judge you. Okay, maybe a little. But I’m sure your wife or family does not tolerate that in the home. The man cave provides a sanctuary not only for you, but also for the things you love! Hopefully, these little suggestions help you figure out what sort of things you need in your cave.

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How Do I Know When My Man Cave Is Finished?

Your man cave is built when it reflects who you are, helps you relax, provides a distinct space from the rest of the house, and fulfills all your entertainment needs. For some people, that’s as simple as a room with a cozy lamp and bookshelf to read in. For other men, an incredibly interactive gaming system and full-fledged bar make the room home. Whichever sort of man you are, you’ll know in your heart whether you achieved the man cave you set out to.

Finished, on the other hand? I don’t think it’s possible to finish man caves. Over the years, our values grow and change, and our interests follow suit. As you find these new hobbies and requirements, incorporating them into your man cave becomes a priority. So, rather than worry about whether your man cave is finished, think about whether it is built instead. If it serves its purpose, then you own a man cave. It’s as simple as that.

Using a Beginner’s Guide to Man Caves

With all of these hard questions out of the way, your quest to create the perfect man cave begins! Whether you already have a man cave or want to build one anew, every question and answer on this post helps you through the tough steps. Check out the rest of the site for do’s and don’ts, help with managing your theme, directions on working with certain rooms, and more. I honestly want to help you build your cave because—when you get to the bottom of it all—these man caves change lives. A sanctuary is no joke and a man cave belongs in every man’s life. I hope you find this out for yourself!

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