Gone are the days when man caves mean dingy spaces with a beer pong table, flashing neon lights, and walls lined with posters of baseball players. Once you enter adulthood, your idea of the world changes, along with the things that are important to you. Whether it’s an entire room, the basement, or a tiny corner in between the kitchen and the living room, a man cave—or a dad cave if you’re a parent—is your own private space where you can indulge in your own hobbies and interests.
“Man caves are much different now than they used to be,” explains interior home and photo stylist Bonnie Aunchman. “Today they are modern and sophisticated. A man cave is still, though, a place where you do what you love—a game, whether it be sports on TV or a poker game with friends, doing a hobby you love like painting, or just relaxing and reading a book. The modern-day man cave is a room with varied interests, types of spaces, and styles!”
Everyone loves having a space of their own, no matter how small or large. The good news? You don’t need to remodel your entire house to carve a space for you. For those in need of a quick and budget-friendly fix, we asked Bonnie to share a few tips on how to build the perfect modern man or dad cave.
1. A man cave is more than a room, it’s a mindset.
Sure, it’s great to have a bar for all types of beverages or a pool table or a basketball hoop. However, according to Bonnie, the first thing you need to remember when decking out your den is that it’s more than just a physical space. “It’s a place that makes you happy and comfortable,” she says. “This is a space where your ‘favorites’ should come into play.”
This means that the “essentials” will be different for everyone. “It may be TV for some, music for others, games and hobbies, and/or an area to showcase his collections/hobby,” she says. “When you enter it, you want to have all the comforts you love, right in one space.”
2. Define your space, even if it’s just a corner.
No extra room? No problem. According to Bonnie, there are many ways to define your space, and it doesn’t always have to be a four-corner wall.
“You can definitely design a space even if you don’t have an entire room. Use the color palette that you have in the room already, and work in some furniture and stylish, functional dividers. Convertible, multi-use furniture options (like a convertible coffee/dining table) is a great option for small and limited space. Want a bar but have little space? A ‘murphy bar’ takes very little space and takes minimal materials to make.”
3. The quickest way to transform a room is with a fresh, new paint.
According to Bonnie, if you’re designing and styling your man cave on a budget, a quick, inexpensive way to do that is with paint. “A fresh coat of paint always breathes life into a room,” she explains. “A statement wall is also a great option. You can do this with very little wallpaper, wood or even 3D panels to add dimension and texture to a wall.”
And when it comes to choosing a color palette for your cave, the sky’s the limit! “I’m a believer in no hard, fast rules when selecting a color palette for a man cave,” she says. “It all depends on the man who will be enjoying the space.”
4. When it comes to lighting, consider the function of the space.
Lighting is also very important to any space, says Bonnie. “If your cave is for relaxing, use soothing lighting, (and maybe choose a dark color palette for your walls and decor). If your cave is for a hobby and you need task lighting, make sure you design with that in mind. The space has to be comfortable, but also equipped with the purpose of the room.”
5. When it comes to furnishing, start with a couch and a rug.
Since the purpose and intent of most man caves is comfort and joy, Bonnie says she always starts with the two most important pieces of furniture first: the couch or chair and the rug. “I tend to select the seating and rug first, and then take the palette cues from those two items. For me those are the two items that make a room comfortable and cozy,” she says.
The rug grounds the entire space of your man cave, adds Bonnie. “It gives your space both style and personality, but it also warms up the space so you have that cozy, comfortable feeling. Your rug can also define the space when you can’t devote an entire room to your cave.”
6. But don’t just pick any rug—the right rug is key.
As flooring makes up a huge chunk of a room’s interior, the area rug plays an important role in designing your man cave. In fact, simply switching out a rug can dramatically change the way a room looks and feels.
“When selecting rugs to style with, it’s great to select rugs with multicolors,” Bonnie says. “You can pull from those tones to select decor elements for your cave and to select your soft items—like pillows, blankets, and throws—which add comfort and warmth to your space. Much of styling a cave is about layering and adding warmth to the space.”
She also adds that finding the right rug isn’t just about finding the right colors or design. It’s also about finding one that can actually take a beating or two (from your energetic kids or those occasional boys nights). “Oftentimes this is a room where there is food,” she says. “So you need a rug that is washable and stain-resistant—it’s really a must!”
Ready to design your own dad cave? Share your designs with us in the comments section below!