Welcome to the quintessential guide to crafting your very own “man cave” in your basement or garage! For more than 3 decades now, the appeal of the man cave has been settling into the American male psyche. And as we have grown to appreciate them further, we’ve witnessed the concept steadily expand into more ambitious designs.
In the past, the mere mention of the words “man cave” conjured-up images of a somewhat dingy (if cozy) paradise, adorned with potato chips and beer cans…and packed with men howling at a football game! These days, that picture has evolved into something more elaborately complex, and altogether inclusive. For hundreds of thousands of American households, the man cave has now become the de facto recreation space within the home.
With this expanded definition in mind, we thought it might be helpful to our readers if we focused on two areas inside your home that are highly suitable for this ultimate kind of transformation: The basement and the garage. The objective, of course, is to turn one (or both) into multi-functional spaces that can be enjoyed by everyone in the family, and their guests as well, while still delivering that warm and familiar embrace for the man of the house! So now let us discuss how to build a man cave in each of these spaces, as well as sharing some instructions on how to install a DIY wet bar, and how to build a bar from scratch, as well!
The Basement Man Cave
Maybe not quite as cool as the cave within which Master Bruce Wayne logged hundreds of hours of his time, but man caves of all kinds are still kinda cool, right? If you’re working with an already finished basement, you’ve already got a head start! With just a few simple additions of furniture and decoration, plus an eye for curating the best layout possible, you can have a fully formed man cave in the lowest level of your house in no time.
The first and greatest reason for using a finished basement as a man cave is that the basement is a destination room. That is to say, it isn’t on your way to anywhere else! The more a room is used for multiple purposes, the less it feels like a customized escape from the humdrum reality of day to day life. A basement often offers this in spades: A separate floor that isn’t likely to be sharing foot traffic with the kitchen, dining room or any other room where family and friends normally gather.
The next best reason is that a basement offers extra amenities that other parts of the home can’t match. Sitting at some depth within the earth, it will have moderate temperatures year-round that won’t fluctuate with daily weather changes. That means a more comfortable space, and comfort is a big ingredient in this recipe! If you have a full-size basement, the best feature will be the fact that it gives you the square footage to really play with, mirroring the size of the main floor itself.
The only pitfall when it comes to this type of man cave is the fact that it requires a finished basement. If you’re staring down a basement finishing project, you’re looking down the barrel of framing walls, installing insulation and wiring, working with drywall, laying a subfloor and finished floor covering, and wiring lights and any other utilities. In other words, it’s a massive project. With that being said, if you’ve got the time and financial resources to complete a basement finishing project, then by all means choose this location for your man cave. You really can’t go wrong!
The Garage Man Cave
Because this is commonly a space in the home that can more readily be used for an entirely different (and arguably more practical) function, transforming your garage into a man cave can be a slightly more challenging proposition. However, if you’re not parking vehicles there daily or using it as a storage space, then this just might be the perfect opportunity to carve out a perfect man cave. So without further ado, let’s begin!
So long as your garage isn’t already performing its primary function – protecting your cars, bicycles, sports and gardening equipment, and more – it can be a perfect man cave spot! (Important Note: It’s always a good idea to consult with your better half before converting a perfectly utilitarian spot for car storage into a fun and relaxing man cave, whether or not the existing space is in regular use!)
There has been a growing trend in the US toward using attached garages specifically for the storage of furniture, goods, supplies, and more, and many families are happy enough to park their cars and bikes outside. While cost-efficient as a solution, it does result in garages that are packed to the gills with boxes, backyard equipment, and balls. Why not transform that square footage into a space your family can truly use?
In terms of complexity, converting your garage into a family leisure room falls somewhere between a full basement finishing project and the more simple basement man cave upgrade. Many modern garages are somewhat finished, with basic drywall, wiring, and lighting, but a finished floor will not be present. Not everyone chooses to install finished flooring, but if you do, this will likely be the most intensive part of the process.
One major advantage to converting your garage into a man cave is provided by large garage doors that can open up the space completely to the outdoors. So, already, it would appear that you’ve got a transformative cave on your hands, man! A place to relax and socialize that becomes an indoor-outdoor experience whenever the weather and the mood is suitable. The advantages here are self-evident and powerful.
Installing A Wet Bar
If you’re really going all-out on your man cave, you’re definitely going to want to consider adding this key feature. In addition to the functional bar-top surface where food and drinks can be served, you can also craft a fully plumbed area with water and a sink, plus electrical outlets for a mini-fridge, blender, or other appliances. (Note: Unless you’re adequately handy with plumbing and electrical systems, you will want to call in professional contractors for these important phases of the job. For those do-it-yourselfers who do have the expertise, then you will need to find sources of electricity, water, and drainage. Bathrooms located on the other side of the wall, for example, may offer you fairly easy access to existing piping and wiring.
One of the more creative things we’ve seen is crafting a wet bar out of a repurposed bathroom vanity unit, as this is both practical and effective. For those who have not recently remodeled one of their bathrooms, you can also purchase an inexpensive bathroom vanity unit at a big box home goods store (instead of building one from scratch), saving you a ton of time and likely money as well. These ready-to-assemble units are available both online for delivery and at local shops like Lowe’s and Home Depot.
Note: Choosing a bathroom vanity instead of a kitchen cabinet, for example, is that the bathroom units will be perfectly paired with countertops that include an integrated sink. This makes the entire process relatively painless. Therefore, once you’ve got the plumbing and electrical taken care of, you’re basically set to go.
Additional Note: It is recommended that wet bars always be placed against a wall because that is where your plumbing and electrical systems will be located. So if you are attempting to craft a full bar experience, you may wish to add a separate standalone bar for your friends and family to be comfortably seated.
Installing A Dry Bar
Going with a dry bar takes away the requirement for plumbing, wiring, and electrical outlets, making your affairs much simpler than those associated with the aforementioned wet bar. One of the best creative ideas we’ve seen turned into reality is the repurposing of old bookcases (2 or more) that can be lined-up next to one another to become the body of the bar. Acquiring a new bookcase of moderate quality shouldn’t be too costly, if necessary. And in this case, what you are looking for is a “cabinet” that stands somewhere close to the near-perfect height of 41 inches for the comfort of those who stand alongside it. Next, attach a repurposed or newly acquired kitchen countertop across the length, and you’ve got your surface. We recommend that the bookcases be placed 30-inches apart, leaving a clear gap for a countertop to bridge. Finally, the countertop is laid down and secured to the bookcases with regular wood screws. With six feet of countertop space, and leaving about 5 inches of overhang on each end, a unit like this is perfect for your man cave bar!
Frequently Asked Questions About Building Your Own Man Cave At Home
Thankfully, we know all about man caves, and we’re ready to impart the wisdom of the ages unto you! Whether you want to build a man cave or just want to understand what they’re all about, we cover whatever you may need to know. Sit back, relax, and learn a bit about the best room in the house (or garage)! Find out why your place needs a man cave, what’s the most effective way to plan it, how to build it, and even what to put in it!
Why have a man cave?
Whether you live in a house or apartment, your home serves as a place to recuperate from work. When you shoulder many of the chores and tasks in the household, you end up needing a rest from your house as well! The man cave serves as a special sanctuary for the man of the house. It provides all of his favorite things in one place, which helps the rest of the family a ton if he enjoys collecting strange objects or listening to loud music! By distinguishing a special place in the home just for him, it gives him a mental break and allows him to enjoy himself more in and out of the cave. After all, when time in the house becomes special, any man enjoys it more! An office reminds a man of work, even if it serves as his own special place, so only a man cave will do!
How do I design my man cave?
When you start learning how to make a man cave layout, begin with the dimensions of the basement or garage, and juxtapose it with the size of the furniture and amenities you’re considering putting in it. A small man cave won’t fit a huge home theatre, large couch, pool table, full kitchen, or full bathroom along with the bar, for example. Think about the spatial experience that you want for yourself and your guests in the final space. This will guide your path!
How should I decorate my man cave?
The theme of your man cave will help you decide everything from the color of the walls to the types of posters you hang up on the walls. Shopping on Amazon and other online stores can provide a huge variety of things to stock in your man cave. If you find yourself with a lot of extra space, consider putting in non-essential furniture, such as a fridge, in order to improve your quality of life. It feels great getting a beer from the same room you relax in!
We hope you’ve been inspired and educated on the possibilities inherent with man cave construction. The process can be as intensive or hands-off as your home and budget will allow, and the configuration options are vast and wide. We’ve broken down the pros and cons of choosing either the basement or garage as a man cave location, hopefully giving you some insight as to where you’ll carve out your own space!