By Katie Bowles
It’s no secret than man caves aren’t always the prettiest or most presentable room in the house–in fact, that may be part of their relaxed charm. However, man caves no longer need to be relegated to the basement or garage. We spoke with five NoVA designers about how men can create a room of their own that the wife will actually tolerate (and maybe even enjoy).
Liza Jones, Principal and Owner of Liza Jane Interiors:
“It is important for the man to feel comfortable in his man cave and for the design to reflect his tastes and hobbies. [For example,] is he an avid golfer or a die-hard Redskins fan? The room should be well-designed using quality materials and fixtures. If the man cave is open to other rooms in the house, then the design of the room should compliment the rest of the home–if not, the sky is the limit.
Recent trends show that a well-designed man cave can actually can add value to a home and that more and more women are on board. Women like the fact that they can close out the noise, cigar smoke and late night antics. What was once a dark corner in a basement or the garage is no more. The man cave is sexy, exciting and well-designed. Depending upon your budget, the possibilities are endless.”
Rachel James, Owner of Rachel James Interiors:
“A modern man cave is as diverse and variable as the men who inhabit them. Not necessarily in the basement or garage, some men also want bright light-filled areas with pops of color. That said, one constant theme I see with my male clients is [having] technology–from surround sound to Apple TV to a wireless remote, most men want a great multimedia experience in their spaces, be it a home office or a theater. And technology is starting to make things (like cords, cables and boxes) disappear; wireless simplicity is the way to go. [Another theme is] comfort–whether traditional or modern, men want to feel relaxed and comfy in their spaces.
[Design-wise,] I’ve been seeing a mix of masculine and feminine pieces—i.e., a dark media room with a crystal chandelier. It’s fine to create a balance that a couple can agree on. Think dark brown or gray walls with soft, brightly-colored (orange, red or green) mohair throws or pillows
Industrial design is also fantastic for a man cave–women usually feel comfortable in industrial-style spaces because it brings a hint of nostalgia without being giving off such a sharp “men’s club” feel.”
Shanon Munn, Principal, and Amanda Welch, Senior Project Designer of Ambi Design Studio Inc.:
“The ‘rustic‘ look is popular right now, and widely seen in many publications. This style is refined and can look decorative, while still looking masculine. Women are also attracted to this look, which is inherently ‘manly’ with raw steel, live edge wood or unfinished wood and distressed furniture.
In the opposite direction, classic modern furniture is great in a man cave. This look is clean and unadorned for guys who prefer a more spare aesthetic.
Another recent trend is using darker color schemes, especially in grey, blue and taupe tones. Using deep, masculine colors can dramatically change the feel of the room and it is a quick way to give a manly look while allowing the wife to keep existing furniture in the room.
[In terms of products,] the ‘old world rustic’ look again greatly lends itself to a man cave. Old books, globes, antique sport relics and antique prints for the walls add decorative elements for a man cave. Also, technology has come a long way in recent years, and will often be incorporated into a man cave. From wireless components to the newest gaming systems and best televisions, these elements will surely be seen in man caves. The best way to present theses items in a man’s room is to highlight them in the space by hanging televisions or computer screens at art height in the space to balance other elements in the space.
To accompany any man cave style, built-in bookcases can create a great focal wall or create space for a wall-hung TV. Bookcases are also a great place to display decorations, books and sports relics.”
Deborah Shade, Owner/President of Shades of Design:
“Paint color and carpeting are great neutral grounds for husband and wife to agree on. Most men want to have a say in the wall color, so have them influence that decision and then the wife can be more involved in the selection of the carpet.
Just because a room is in the basement doesn’t mean it is any less important. The rooms that you spend the most time in are rooms that are important. I would say a man cave is very important, and more thought and attention should go into that room than the formal living room that is rarely used.
Getting back to the dreaded recliner is priority number one with men and their caves. Fortunately, manufacturers are creating comfortable and stylish designs that can please both men and women. Also, having a beverage center in the room is becoming more common. Sound and lighting have always been a top priority, but new trends in the type of lighting and the size and placement of speakers have influenced furniture placement in the room.
As far as furniture goes, comfort takes precedence over style, so good quality American manufacturers are what I recommend. I have done a few man caves that have nothing more than bar stools, as a pool table has been thrown into the mix of ‘watching the game’ (while shooting some pool in the process).”
Jessica Walls, Interior Decorator and Northern Virginia Regional Marketing Consultant of Bertin’s Decorating Den:
“Man caves can now be a retreat for the man of the house as well as an aesthetically appealing space for women. Popular color schemes include pairings of masculine neutrals (such as gray) with bright pops of color, like the recent Pantone colors of the year (tango tangerine and this year’s radiant orchid). In addition, design has become increasingly eclectic as many designers mix masculine forms (like clean lines) in furniture with feminine details like softer textures in textiles. Due to the evolution in design, man caves can now be both a retreat for the man of the house as well as aesthetically appealing to the woman of the house. They can also be a great place for the entire family to gather and entertain.
For a color palette that doesn’t scream “team colors” or is overly dark and masculine, we would choose a neutral grey, such as Benjamin Moore Gray Timber Wolf 2126-50 or Pewter 2121-30, to give the space a modern appeal. Depending on the usage of the room and the personality of the man, we would pair it with a variation of colors such as lemon, coral, aqua or even a purple. Accent colors are also a great place to incorporate a version of their favorite team or alma mater’s colors, but perhaps in a more sophisticated hue.
Another re-emerging trend in design is the use of light woods such as oak for flooring, furniture and elements such as trim and cabinetry. A mix of oak furniture with other modern finishes such as a concrete bar counter top or even concrete finished gaming tables would create a hip, modern look for a young, trendy man cave. Reclaimed wood is still a very popular finish this year for furniture and can also be used on walls and in flooring. This look can add masculinity to a room, but still appeals to many women as well.
Man caves are no longer just for middle-aged men who are in their dream home. Many men in their late 20s and early 30s are even designing their own man caves now, and there are some recent trends that surpass the typical sports and billiards rooms or even the trend of home theaters:
The Adult Video Game Enthusiast
The video game generation has grown up. They may just want to enjoy their childhood video games for nostalgia’s sake, or perhaps still keep up with the latest video games. A room with a prominent media center and surround sound speakers is a must for a video gamer. There are also many arcade style video game consoles that play multiple older gaming systems, such as Atari and Nintendo NES. The inclusion of an item like this can be a fun piece of interest. Other interesting ways to incorporate someone’s love of video games into the décor include 8-bit themed fish tanks and video game controller shaped cocktail tables. A great way to include the entire family would be to include a gaming system such as the Wii.
The Wine Connoisseur
Gone are the days of the garage man cave full of beer. Now, not only are older gentlemen into wine, but the younger generations have become quite the connoisseurs as well. A man cave incorporating a fully stocked bar and wine fridge or even cellar would be spectacular. However, for those on a budget or with space limitations, smaller wine fridges, a cocktail cart and/or a small bar set with a table and set of stools can add a bit of elegance to a multi-purpose space that would be a fun place to entertain.”
Ready to create your own man cave? Check out our product recommendations here.