Football season is right around the corner, and few things go better with football than a completely decked out man cave. Regardless of who you’re rooting for – we’re writing this from Texas, so Texans, Cowboys, and Longhorns are the only right answers – you deserve your own space to kick back for kickoff.
We’ve reached out to eight experts for their advice on how to create the best man caves; here’s what they had to say.
Gather Everything That Makes You Happy
When asked what should inspire the perfect man cave, Tim Carter, founder of AsktheBuilder.com, was all about comfort:
Think for a moment how you want to feel when you’re in your man cave – yes, your cave. You want to be surrounded in a cocoon of pleasure by all the things that make you happy. Was your college degree in geology? Consider pinning to the cave walls a few national park topographic map bandanas. These will remind you of all the good times you had on those many field trips. Are model trains your thing? What about a real model train that runs on a shelf that circles the room? Yeah, I knew you’d like that idea.
Do you love photographs of motorcycles, landscapes, fishing trips, or sports? Install a flat-screen monitor that runs a continuous loop of your favorite photos. Don’t forget some small hidden speakers behind the drywall that pipe your favorite playlists into your lair.
Is rough wood your thing? Don’t overlook the stunning realistic rough-oak plank laminate flooring that will fool all your friends who think you sawed it yourself. Highlight the oak using a stunning area rug you love. One last tip: Follow your heart and gut, and it will be the most magnificent cave for hundreds of miles – trust me.
Tim Carter is the founder of AsktheBuilder.com and author of the syndicated newspaper column Ask the Builder. Tim shares his decades of hard-earned knowledge working in the homes of paying customers each week with his newsletter and YouTube channel subscribers so time-tested methods won't be forgotten. When not working, you'll find Tim transmitting Morse code in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Up Your Relaxation Game
Sara Barney, owner and principal designer at BANDD DESIGN, promotes finding the balance between comfort and functionality, promoting a man cave as the ideal place to relax.
When designing a masculine space or a man cave, there are many things you need to take into account – color palette and comfort, just to name a couple. When focusing on a masculine space we like to add natural wood, leather, a lot of texture, and a pop of color; it doesn't have to be dark and dreary! To make the ultimate man cave, invest in a few signature pieces for when you want to sit back and watch a movie or play your favorite video game. Relaxing doesn’t have to be limited to the confines of your beanbag chair from high school. Find your true synergy with comfort and style with a relaxing sectional and an ottoman to kick your feet up.
Feel Right at Home
Bryan Sebring from Sebring Design Build knows that man caves are all about self-expression, and using your own interests to inspire your design.
This is the most important part of the man cave. Be as creative, as crazy, and as unique as you want. The most common starting point is to decide what theme you want dominating the room. This will depend on your hobbies and activities. Some fill their man cave with film or music regalia. It all depends on your passions. The trick is to create a theme that feels right at home with you, one that makes your heart race a bit every time you step inside the man cave.
The number one Man Cave amenity I see is gaming. Gaming consists of professional sports watching, poker table, pool table, ping-pong, etc. But the biggest item that men want is an area to watch multiple sporting events at once. Because of the popularity of fantasy sports and the cheap prices of large TV’s, men want the “wall of sports” so they can have their friends over on Sunday afternoons.
Bryan Sebring, owner and founder of Sebring Design Build, has been in the remodeling industry for over 25 years. Previously featured in Remodeling Magazine, Professional Remodeler Magazine & House Smarts TV, he is a Certified Graduate Remodeler through the National Association of Home Builders.
Create a Livable Escape
Man caves should be the ultimate retreat, and Julia Buckingham of Buckingham Interiors + Designs knows all about that:
When designing a man cave, we like to say, “The moodier the better.” We achieve this by using warm leathers, bronze finishes, sexy lighting, and lots of textured textiles and wall coverings. Function, ease, and comfort: three very important elements. We love to layer accessories as well. Showcasing personal collector’s items and "man gadgets" is very important to make the space livable and an escape for the client. You will not believe how many times we have been asked to incorporate some type of secret door leading to the man cave!
Julia Buckingham leads a new generation of world-class interior designers, bringing her Modernique® chic sensibility to both residential and commercial design projects around the country. Her unique design style, captured in her new book Modernique: Inspiring Interiors – Mixing Modern and Vintage Style, her spectacular collections of licensed product, numerous high profile panels, show houses, and personal appearances around the globe have earned her the reputation of a rock-solid force in the industry.
Comfort is First and Foremost
Feel like your dream design is a little over-the-top? Not possible, says Eric Cohler of Eric Cohler Designs: Man caves can never be too plush or too luxurious.
Man caves have come a long way from dark interiors covered in sports memorabilia. However, two things remain constant: comfortable sofas and large screens.
Technology is at the center of many man caves and we’ve gone beyond embracing this rapid change to think of not only what will come tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow.
We believe comfort is first and foremost when it comes to a man’s domain, and an oversized sofa is an absolute must – not only for viewing, but for napping.
When designing a man cave we always begin with the rug and build from there. And when it comes to rugs and carpeting, plush is not an overused adjective. We work synergistically with our trade sources, ensuring that both comfort and style are prioritized. Today, with all of the incredible performance fabrics on the market, we can provide luxurious, comfortable style that’s maintenance-free.
Eric Cohler Design is a full-service Interior Design firm that offers clients curated interior spaces that display layers of unusual texture, color, and verve. Blending high and low-end pieces, we create spaces that are of the moment yet timeless, while reflecting each client’s personality and style.
Find Your Inspiration
It’s important to start with a theme in mind, says Anthony Michael of Anthony Michael Interior Design, and for that theme to carry all the way through.
When I design a man cave, it needs to begin with a theme. For example, pictured here is a design featuring an automotive theme. The leathers and woods used mimic the design of a car, it has precision sound and entertainment systems, it showcases rare wines and liquors.
A man cave must be deep and rich tones: Tobacco, camel, cognac tones should grace the upholstery. The man cave is a place to show off, especially when a shared wall can be the garage housing a Bugatti, or perhaps a vintage Aston Martin.
It's designed for watching sporting events, listening to the coolest jazz, and hitting a Cuban Cohiba cigar.
For more than 34 years, Chicago industry influencer Anthony Michael has brought influential clients around the world a universal perspective and unsurpassed level of taste, attention, and style. His firm specializes in classical, contemporary, and eclectic interior design for residences, boutique restaurants and retail, yachts, and private aircraft.
Multifunctionality is Key
Darla Powell of Darla Powell Interiors understands that in an ideal man cave, you want a space that meet all of your needs:
The man cave … Ah. This space tends to invite its share of boisterous behavior, superhero antics, and the occasional wayward Cheeto, but you can equip your space to handle it all with some design tricks of the trade. First things first, if you want a recreational space that rivals your local Cineplex, you will have to go big or – er – stay home when it comes to your audio/visual equipment. Invest in a high-quality surround system (preferably with some professional help), as well as a remote like the Harmony, which converts radio frequencies to infra-red frequencies, allowing you to strategically tuck all of your equipment away in a nearby well-ventilated linen or storage closet. Because no one, and I mean no one, (except maybe weird Aunt Edna) wants to look at monstrous black boxes all night. Besides, they take up valuable real estate that you could be allocating for that classic Donkey Kong arcade game you’ve been eyeing. Yeah, I see you.
To control all of those sound waves emanating from your multiple smart TVs, powerful speakers, and subwoofer, use lined drapery, fabric roller shades, and a low-pile carpet or exceptionally large rugs. Textiles will drastically reduce the deafening sounds that these spaces can produce. When it comes to flooring or wet bar materials, go for ones that can take a beating. Materials that are inherently distressed or worn – like brick veneer, galvanized metal, and pallet wood – will fare much better after a few pool game mishaps or poorly aimed darts than, let’s say, marble.
Finally, nothing screams man cave more than comfortable seating. Sectionals with a chaise or motorized recliner chairs with built-in cell phone chargers are a welcoming touch in a man cave. Performance fabrics are all the rage in upholstery and there is no better area to use them than in here. Merlot and Cuba Libres (cheers!) are no match for industry favorites like Sunbrella, Crypton or Revolution fabrics since they repel stains, rather than absorb them. Now that you’ve got that covered, pun intended, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the magnificence of your newly upgraded haven.
Darla Powell is the Principal Designer of Darla Powell Interiors in Miami, Florida and the Head Wingnut at Wingnut Social. Darla brings a fun, genuine, down-to-earth approach to designing beautiful spaces. Since she launched her career in 2016, clients have fallen in love with her work, growing her business almost exclusively by word of mouth. As the host of the Wingnut Social podcast, Darla inspires others to go after their dreams using the power of social and digital media.
Follow the Trends
It’s all about what you like to do, although there are some clear trends in age groups, according to Robert Couturier of Robert Couturier Inc.
I guess it all depends on the man’s interests! If the man likes entertaining his male friends, smoking cigars, drinking fine alcohols, and talking about politics, I would line the walls with bookcases; use dark wool and sang de boeuf lacquered walls, [and] soft worn leathers and oriental carpets to give it an old world look. But that’s only for the older, more traditional clients.
For younger gentlemen, the focus is the entertainment system, with a giant television and all sorts of mechanical toys. In that case, I upholster the walls in a light-colored felt for sound and for the color of the television. [Add] very comfortable sofas and armchairs, some upholstered in leather others in soft comfortable velvets, and keep the palette quite neutral.
For the project illustrated, this is in a very large English country house, where men retire after dinner to play billiard and drink scotch. This room is a combination of both styles, as we have modern decorative elements in rich warm shades of browns and reds, and all the contemporary mechanical toys are hidden away.
Robert Couturier has been running his interior design firm, Robert Couturier Inc., for the last 30 years. The New York-based designer maintains his place at the top of his profession, continuing to execute grand-scale commissions in the U.S., Europe, South America, Russia, and the Middle East. His work has been featured in such publications as Architectural Digest, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Town and Country, the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, House and Garden, the Robb Report, and Elle décor.
Jenna Royall is a Content Marketing Associate for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). She creates and implements a variety of customized content marketing programs, and develops content partnerships with leading media, bloggers and influencers on behalf of BDX.
Jenna graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Public Relations. Prior to joining BDX, she worked in digital marketing, nonprofit development and social software sales.