(Last modified on April 8th, 2020)
Now that you have your man cave set up, you might find it to be missing a few crucial assets. While the furniture fills all your requirements and you put up some basic themed decorations, it just feels a little…lacking. If you went through all the motions to make the perfect man cave, the situation can be quite puzzling. After all, since you probably followed the instructions on my decor article, you already have wall decorations and magazines on the coffee table. I’m here to help you with that issue—you know, the one you don’t know you have. Understanding the way decorations add to your man cave is just as important as finding decorations that look good. Today, I want to talk about how to decorate a man cave and maximize the use of every item you place inside.
Basements are probably the most popular spot for man caves. They’re separate from the house, are typically used just for storage and laundry, and otherwise just house a bunch of boxes of who-knows-what that have accumulated over the years. Turning a basement into a man cave not only gives you a sanctuary to reside in, but it also clears your house of junk and helps you maximize your space. With that said, how exactly do you maximize the space? Basements are very spacious, which means you need way more decor to make the same impact you would have in a smaller room. If you read my post on basement man caves, you'd know all about that, but let's go into depth on the decor aspect here.
The first thing to do is to address the walls and floor. Many people forget that the walls are decorations in their own right. Switching the floor from wood to stone or adding bricks to a portion of the wall breaks up the solid form of the wall. This means you can separate your decor efforts into sections or leave entire areas blank without making the room look empty.
But that’s simply a way to make decorating easier. Let’s think about how you can use your decorations to improve the man cave. The best addition you could possibly make comes in the form of a pot. No, literally, a potted plant of some sort. You can get an air plant to conserve space, small succulents if you don’t want to worry about water, or even set up a water garden for a zen aesthetic. Not only do these plants decorate your man cave, but they also filter out the stuffy air a basement tends to accrue. If your basement ventilation is lacking, use the plants to make up for some of that.
If the basement is unavailable, the garage makes for an excellent man cave location. This one is full of its own disadvantages, though. Unless you replaced the garage door with a proper wall, the ceiling is taken up by your garage door supports. It has limited insulation, making the temperature fluctuate wildly with the weather. Bugs also find their way in with ease. If you combine all of this, you’ll find that decor is limited to the walls and only the most durable things can be used.
The most critical part of setting up a garage man cave is making sure the floor is perfect. The floor ties together your entire decor. Simple concrete floors encourage grunge or industrial decorations, while carpeting calls for more sophisticated or even modern decor. If you didn’t pay attention to how you handled your floor, it’s in your best interest to move everything into the home or some sort of storage until you fix that.
With that backbone of your decor set up, it’s time to make those walls shine. Since ceiling light is likely limited, use wall lights to illuminate the room. While many people go for warm lights, I recommend sticking to white or full spectrum light bulbs. When a room is lit with a dim, warm light, but has no windows to the outside, it seems very cramped. It also gets tiring on the eyes and—if you spend too much time in there—could mess with the way you interpret colors in the room. Trust me, I know this from experience. If you want to know more about creating a garage man cave, read my post here.
The last big thing with decorating your man cave garage is to manage your electricity. You only have a select few outlets in the garage, and while you can stuff them with extension cords, it’s unsafe to have a mess of wires that can spark at any moment in the cave. Focus on things that take a low amount of energy to power. Consider setting up switches that disable some outlets on a power strip while booting up others—you can hook this up to your entertainment systems and not worry about using too much power.
Making space in a small room for a man cave is difficult enough, but decorating it without making the small man cave look cluttered is an even more difficult task. Here are a few solutions I’ve found over the years that help small rooms look spacious without taking away from their flair. First, get ready to use your vertical space. All of your furniture should be relatively thin. Your decor should be thin posters, signs, flags, or flat screens. You might be tempted to plaster all of the walls with posters, but this has a detrimental effect on your cave. If you take up all the space on the wall, it looks like the room itself has no space.
To avoid this, focus on finding eye-catching wall decorations and then surrounding them with space. Scatter these throughout the room. The majority of wall space should be empty. Any sort of vertical furniture or electronics attached to the wall will contribute to this, so keep that in mind. Speaking of electronics attached to the wall, try to put all of your lighting on the walls and close to the ceiling. Lamps take up space while central lighting can make the vertical space seem cramped. Wall lamps, on the other hand, contribute to those ‘eye catchers’ while also putting the spotlight on the center of the room. By making the center more prominent, the walls of the room seem a bit further away. The result? Decor that makes your small room man cave look much bigger than it is.
The concept of a rustic man cave varies wildly from person to person. When I started writing this blog, ‘rustic decor’ was synonymous with ‘classic western decor.’ Obviously, rustic includes far more than that. Here are some general ideas to help you get started on a rustic man cave. No matter what kind of rustic cave you have in mind, these will do the trick.
First, add wooden furniture wherever you can. Even if it’s sleek and modern, the color helps give the room a rustic feel. You should have some sort of carpeting in the room, even if it doesn’t cover everything. If you can include stonework or brick textures on one of your walls, then go out of your way to do that. Like wooden furniture, stone walls help tie together a rustic room. For furniture materials, you’ll want to stick to leather, heavy cloth, wood, or straw. Stay away from plastic stuff and cheap cloth. That works for a modern room, but rustic man caves are meant to withstand the test of time and look like they’ve already been around for a while. Flimsy furniture has no place in here.
The last thing to pull the room together is warm lighting. You’ll definitely want something hanging from the ceiling—ideally a simple chandelier—but lamps at desk level help spread the light around and make the man cave a welcoming place. If you can manage it, throw in a fireplace. Nothing ties together a rustic room better than a fireplace.
I hope this helped you pull together the perfect man cave! Working with space and pulling off a theme takes talent, so if you manage it, give yourself a pat on the back. If you’re struggling with the concept of decorating your man cave, don’t stress over it. Man caves are something that can take time to build. Rather than decorating it all at once, you accrue decorations over time. Cycle out stuff that doesn’t match or stuff you never use to prevent it from becoming a room full of clutter.
In time, the true theme of the man cave will shine through the decor. That theme? The answer is universally the same across all caves. You are the theme. As the man of the cave, you’re ultimately the thing that ties it all together. Take pride in what you create and explore all the things you’ve ever wanted to put in a room! Follow your intuition to create a true man cave for yourself.