How to create the ultimate modern man cave
Keep your home and auto protected with the right insurance for your needs.
Every man needs a place where he can go every now and then to escape the noise, distractions, and stresses of life. In generations past this might have consisted of a couple of folding chairs and a beer fridge in the garage, or a basement “rumpus room” with bar taps and fake wood paneling. However, the era of the modern man offers a whole world of other choices. The modern man cave is an opportunity to move beyond taxidermy, pin-up calendars and furniture made from car parts, and create a space that reflects a more refined sensibility. Here’s how to get the job done in style.
While the whole idea of a man cave is to have a space where you can feel free to do whatever you want, letting your whims run wild can easily result in a space that’s overwhelming and busy at best, and tacky at worst. Using a more restrained approach and a consistent colour palette will yield a space that’s tasteful and relaxed, without sacrificing the masculine aesthetic you’re after. The key to this is picking timeless furniture and decor in muted tones, and accenting these with occasional pops of colour and personality.
Reclining chairs are great inventions, but they aren’t usually the nicest looking pieces in the showroom. Instead, go for pieces informed by the clean lines and simple shapes of midcentury modern design. Colour-wise, keep it low-key with black and brown upholstery and natural wood accents, saving colour for your choice of wall decor (see below). For your main seating, a sofa like this one from Article will elevate your space without sacrificing comfort, and its leather upholstery has the benefit of being both luxurious and spill resistant. And just because this is a La-Z-Boy-free zone doesn’t mean you can’t have a comfortable chair, too. For that, nothing beats a classic Eames lounger or, for something more budget-friendly, this similarly styled chair and ottoman set from West Elm. Once you’ve decided on your seating, you can choose your coffee and side tables to match.
Because all of the relaxing you’re going to do here can be thirsty work, in addition to a small bar fridge (ideally hidden under a table unless it’s something cool looking like this one) consider adding an industrial-style bar cart to store your cocktail essentials.
Now that you’ve got your seating in place, you can start building the rest of the room around it. For the floor, a cowhide rug will warm up the space while providing some visual interest. For something even more interesting with a bit of an Explorers Club vibe (minus the antelope heads), a vintage Moroccan rug will liven the space from the ground up.
While it may be tempting to cover the walls in vintage gas station signs and beer ads, if you don’t want your space to feel like a garage or a bar, a more curatorial approach is in order. If you’ve got the budget for artwork, 1stdibs.com and Magnum are great places to find prints and photography in a wide range of prices, with or without frames. Otherwise, there are tons of online stores devoted to providing tasteful wall art on the cheap. At Society6, for example, you can get a huge range of gallery-style framed prints in various sizes, while Etsy offers downloadable art you can print and frame yourself.
A big TV and an audiophile sound system are a no-brainer, but don’t let your entertainment options end there. Whether or not you have room for a regulation-sized pool table, classic rec-room games should be part of any man cave. Table tennis is always popular, and while a standard green table does the job, this handmade model from 11 Ravens, which can be fully customized in your choice of colours and finishes, will take your game to the next level. For a blast from the past, pick up one of these 3/4-scale replica arcade games or, for something even more impressive, opt for a vintage pinball machine like the ones for sale by Pinball Medics, who lovingly refurbish and sell these machines at their Ottawa workshop. As a finishing touch, supplement your wireless music streaming system of choice with a sleek, modern record player and a few choice pieces of vinyl.
Jeremy Freed is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. His writing about fashion, travel, food and design appears in Sharp, Harry and re:Porter magazines, among many others.
Jeremy Freed is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.