The Man Cave: It Depends on the Man

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// by Stella Katsipoutis

THE MAN CAVE IS SOMETHING OF A SHRINE where a guy can go to enjoy all that he sees as holy, such as his favorite team, ice cold beverages and some alone time. But if you want to host the best damn football Sunday—or escape the in-laws during the holidays—then throwing some beat-up furniture into a damp basement just isn’t going to cut it.

“The idea of having a stress-free zone in the home is becoming more popular,” says Amanda Webster, design principal of Amanda Webster Design in Jacksonville Beach. “This in-home getaway is good for men’s health. So much so that the man cave is now often part of the original programming in new homes.”

We challenged some of Jacksonville’s top interior designers to share their secrets for creating a room that lets guys of every type just be.

The Sports Lover

When it comes to designing the ultimate fan cave, the pros agree that it’s all about comfort and convenience.

“I would definitely have a large comfy sofa and leather recliners for the crew to sit back and relax, plus a wall of slim high-def TVs,” says designer  Bianca Beattie of Jacksonville’s Just B Interiors. “Splurge on a freestanding bar to keep the cold beer coming, too.”

When you’re picking paint colors, try not to deck out your pad in your favorite team’s colors. Webster suggests sticking with a neutral shade instead, like a navy blue, chocolate brown or charcoal gray.

The Movie Buff

Webster’s recipe for a legit home theater includes, of course, a state-of-the-art TV screen or projector, a knock-your-socks off surround-sound system and plush seating for a totally immersive experience. But it doesn’t end there. “Include dimmers and other ambient lighting, but be careful that no lighting reflects onto the screen,” she says.

Because acoustics are so important here, opt for thick carpeting and dark padded walls, which will absorb sound and give off some serious movie theater vibes. “Giving a womb-like feel to the space helps set the mood and puts the focus on the main event,” says Marsha Faulkner, design principal of Jacksonville’s Studio M Interior Design Inc.

The Techie

“Tech junkies are fun to work with because the sky is the limit for them,” says Faulkner. “At the touch of a screen, curtains can be drawn, lighting and sound can be adjusted. The entire experience can be controlled from an armchair.”

You can virtually take your man cave in any direction your imagination wants to go … as long as you have the budget. But remember, all that high-end stuff also generally requires professional installation, which may sometimes involve relocating fixtures, redoing drywall and repainting the room.

“Select all of your desired equipment first, and make that part of your design programming,” says Webster. “It’s hard to add things later.”

The Quiet One

If it’s a zen-like escape that you desire, then make sure all of your design choices promote a calm, soothing atmosphere.

“A medium color palette is best for reading—not too dark or very bright to avoid glare,” says Webster. “Go for comfortable furniture and surround yourself with different light sources and brightness levels. Always include an ottoman and, if the budget allows, textured or fabric wall covering can add a warm touch.”

“My philosophy is: Surround yourself with what you love, and it will look great,” says Faulkner. “Don’t be afraid to invest in nice things for yourself to make this a place you really want to be. It will pay for itself over the time you choose to spend there.”