Every man should have a place to escape to. And these days it isn’t always the local pub for a ‘swift half’. Home working, flexible hours and teenagers finally fleeing the nest all lend themselves to the creation of a man cave.
And women should embrace it. The age old necessity to tinker with something mechanical, fiddle with something that needs fixing and generally make a mess or get in the way should be shuffled off the dining table, away from the kitchen and consigned to space where the male mess is out of sight. More about the ‘She Shed’ another day!
Modern Man Cave
The modern man cave is a different beast. Sure, the desire to do ‘real man’ tasks lives on, hidden deep down. But now we don’t have that same requirement to oil the crankshaft on a Suffolk Punch lawnmower. Or lovingly craft a selection of scrap wood into an equally useless scrap shelf. Modern manufacturing, the sharing economy and doorstep DIY services have freed us of the requirement to do it but left us bereft of macho jobs.
The man cave is about entertainment. Self-gratuitous fulfilment. False purpose. We can choose the jobs to do and turn our spare time into hobbies and not household tasks.
Spare Room Man Cave
Now the kids have flown the nest, the teenager den is ripe for conversion. If you don’t fancy doing it up for Airbnb and cashing in then stake a claim for the personal space and have a declutter. Once the collected treasures of the spare room are sorted and removed to the loft, it can make a comfortable and smart space. The same man cave principles apply but you’ll probably not get away with the shabby workshop look of a shed.
The spare room man cave will have more considered décor. You still want the snoozing chair but perhaps not from a junkyard. Take advantage of the indoor space with bookshelves, some framed prints and a decent music outfit. Vinyl is making a comeback so dig out the old records but think about getting something new to play them on.
The Shed Man Cave
The traditional shed space is getting a makeover these days. A lot of us have fond memories of harassing a father or grandfather in the middle of some critical phase of oiling or polishing some unknown mechanical device. The shed always had a special smell. Slightly musty and damp mixed with an unhealthy dose of chemicals… normally seeping from a rusty tin of paint 15 years past it’s best.
Large sheds are relatively affordable. Even a substantial log cabin is cheaper than an extension to the house. For anyone with a garden and a full house they are the ideal man cave solution. Electricity is essential. How else can we heat it in the winter and cool an ale in the summer? Oh and run the work laptop.
How To Make A Man Cave
Ultimately the real man cave thrives on piecing together stuff from other parts of the house. There are a couple of things that every man cave needs, so you may have to sneak off for a little bit of shopping.
1. Shabby armchair. Pick up a quality but worn-out armchair from a junk shop or reclamation yard. You’re after something to snooze in so it doesn’t need to be in mint condition. You can get away with real shabby in the shed but that may not pass in the house.
2. Workbench. Whether mechanical tinkering, hobby space, or a real office, you’re going to need a desk. Get hold of some old scaffolding boards and give them a good sand back. Finish with a coat of wax or oil. Search the Internet for suppliers of Interclamp or Tube Clamp fittings. This versatile selection will enable you to cut pipe to size and build a bench to your own design to suit anywhere. I used The Metal Store.
3. Storage. For the tooled up workspace and traditional feel, create some pegboard storage against a wall. Make sure you lay it out first and spend some time getting it right. For the prison effect outline all the tools so you know what’s gone missing! If you’re going for an office, search local charity shops and recycling places for something that suits the look. You can also use the scaffold boards to make some industrial feel shelves. If you want the look without the hassle, Rat and Pallet create some amazing things.
4. Fridge. If you’re going to invite guests to the man cave, some form of liquid refreshment is a must. Ideally cold. Find something with character to make a statement. You could go with a tiny desktop fridge or a full blown Darth Vader affair. For a true manly experience, get an old fridge and drill a hole through the door for a beer tap! Connect your homebrew keg on the other side with some flexible tube.
5. Clutter. A man cave just doesn’t suit the minimalist look. Every inch of wall space must be filled with old signs, unidentified ancient tools or childhood games. Intersperse them with other paraphernalia that ‘might come in handy one day’. A real man cave aficionado will know the location of every item and have an interesting/intensely boring tale about each piece.
Enjoy household bliss
Finally, a man cave takes time and thought. It isn’t something that can be made overnight. Take some time to sit and relax, visualise the ideas and scour the Internet, scrapyards and junk shops for pieces that suit.
I’ve been assured that the more time I spend in my man cave, the happier our household will be. I think I’m on to a winner. Right?