Dispelling the Myths of the Man Cave

You’ve all heard of the “man cave” by now, and many of you may have one in your own home.  The term “man cave” conjures up images of a dark basement filled with a monster-sized flat screen television, leather recliners, and (sorry) ugly decor.  Since Father’s Day is approaching this weekend, maybe it’s time for a new and improved vision for the man cave. Let’s start by dispelling a few commonly-held myths about what the perfect man cave should be.

modern man cave

man cave?

Myth #1 –  The man cave should be a dark space, usually in a dank basement area.

musician's man cave

HGTV Smart Home Man Cave

A man cave doesn’t have to be dark and ugly to be masculine.  A basement space is fine, but the more natural light you can let in, the better.  This basement in the 2014 HGTV Smart Home is a walk-out type, so there are multiple windows and a light paint color on the walls. It’s still masculine, with it’s stained concrete floors and black accents.

black painted rafters in basement

black beams and ceiling


And the exposed ceiling beams and vents were painted out black, another masculine and industrial touch.


Myth #2 –  It’s all about the television, so that should be the focal point.

modern man cave guitar

HGTV Smart Home Man Cave

This end of the man cave features seating, family photos, and a great piece of guitar art.  But where’s the television, you may ask?

television projector in man cave

projection television screen 

With a flip of a switch, a big screen descends from the ceiling in front of the guitar art to transform the space into a great space for watching movies with friends and family.

Myth #3 –  A man cave should be about comfort, so leather and theatre-style seating is the way to go.

hgtv smart home

 clean and masculine upholstery

Why do people think leather is so comfortable?  It can be cold, sticky, and noisy with every position shift.  And who needs recliners when you’ve got a comfy ottoman to put your feet up on?


Myth #4 –  A man cave should be about the man it’s created for – his hobbies and interests.

musician man cave hgtv smart home

a musician’s dream man cave

I tricked you – this one is no myth! This man cave caters to its intended owner – a musician who likes to watch movies with his kids, jam out with his friends, and work out by himself before heading to work.  There’s a small adjoining room with a purposely unfinished look for the most manly of workout spaces.

work out room

Crossfit style workout room

Now that we’ve dispelling the myths of the man cave, doesn’t it make you want to make over YOUR man’s space for Father’s Day?


  1. Jonas Nissen

    Whoever wrote this must be gay or a woman.

    • Kristie Barnett

      Well, yes, I am a woman. I’m guessing this isn’t your ideal man cave?

  2. applehillcottage

    Our man cave, er man office, is dark and paneled and ugly. But that’s mostly because it looked like that when we moved in, and there were more important spaces to fix up. I’m guessing that’s why most of them look the way do — because lots of guys just take what’s left and don’t care… To sell the house, we are painting the dark paneling, but the dropped ceiling has to stay. Any advice on ugly old tile floors?

  3. Maria

    I absolutely LOVE it but I’m not my hubby! He HAS to have that leather recliner that makes the funny noises when he shifts around in it! And I hate that look.:[

  4. Mr. Man

    I want a Mr. Man cave as cool as this!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Maybe we could do something like this in the basement . . .

  5. Tedd Kidd

    Kristie, Kristie, Kristie… you’ve designed the perfect woman’s ‘man cave’!

    • Kristie Barnett

      I’m trying to figure out what exactly you mean by that!

  6. Weisserose

    Dear Kristie,

    This is a very interesting post. Would it be possible for you to inform me about the supplier/ brand for screen/ TV system? I would be intererested in purchasing a similar item for my living room.

    Thanks and greetings from Germany 🙂

  7. Jayme

    I think it is all about compromise. My husband took an unfinished basement, spent hours, weeks, months, wiring, hanging drywall, painstakingly laying slate tile, installing crown molding with rope lights hidden to give that theater glow. So for all that hard work, I figured he earned that 61 inch flat screen he had to have, the surround sound, etc. He wanted the acoustics to be primo, so we installed batting on the walls-although I picked the fabric we covered it with. He didn’t get the theater seats, but he sure got the couches (suede and leather combo) with recliners in all the ends and drink holders in the middle that he wanted. But he built me the BEST storage closet ever-takes up all one side under the stair case-probably about 300 sq ft. or so of storage-and allows me to have my tons of Christmas decorations there instead of stuck in an attic. I picked all the colors/finishes/etc. taking in to consideration that he would be the one spending the majority of the time in it. And I made sure we had curtains surrounding that TV to truly make it look like a theater and the pictures are art-not “guy” pictures-but pictures that enhance the room. The result-lets just say, we have never had anyone-male or female-that didn’t love the space and I think our hard work was validated when the appraiser (upon on our refi a few years ago) commented that it was one of the best finished basements she had ever seen. Not too shabby for a man cave!

  8. Angela

    So I asked my brother-in-law about this man cave and although he loves the music theme of it (he is a huge guitar enthusiast), he said the throw pillows and chalk art throw it over into the girly man cave category. As for my husband, he has to have his leather recliner. Of course this is coming from the man who calls the two chairs I purchased that do not recline “old lady chairs”. Oh well.

  9. Paula Van Hoogen

    Kristie, i think your point here is that ALL men don’t prefer darkness in “their” space. There are lots of guys with style and my Mr. Man is one of them! He has great taste. His current man-cave is about to go up tomorrow–a Pole Barn for all his equipment & tools. We’ve been looking online at all the beautiful gooseneck barn lights…and all the barns that are now being dressed up so beautifully for weddings, etc. My nephew is dreaming of his own men-only barber shop with really cool decor. So….lets see more of your style, men!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Very interesting, Paula! I would think a barbershop theme would be really awesome!

  10. Louisa

    This is wonderful. I love the space. It is very masculine and not dingy or dirty.

    I used to be very skeptical of the idea of a “man cave,” but I finally realized that it was very important for my husband to have time alone. Making a space specifically for him validates this need.

    I began to create a space for him in our basement, but unfortunately he never got to use it because he died suddenly a few weeks later.

    So for those of you who have a good man around… celebrate him by making him a space all his own that reflects his interests and tastes! It’s okay for him to want time alone.

    • Kristie Barnett

      Thank you for your insight, Louisa. You just put it all in perspective – everyone deserves a space that feels like home. And that’s different for everyone. So sorry for your loss 🙁

  11. AppleHillCottage

    Sorry. I know to be more specific. They are VCT — brown and white checkerboard pattern. Can we paint it?? 🙂

  12. JL

    Love it. I am thinking about decorating my husband’s office (in a typical corporate looking building, ugly thin metal blinds, gross lighting, the whole nine) for his 40th birthday next year. I’ve casually started asking questions to give me ideas as to what HE wants. I asked: What would you think of a floor lamp in your office? His response: Nah, I don’t need one. Well, sometimes I think men don’t know what they need/want until they have it. If I put a masculine area rug over the carpet in front of his desk where two chairs sit, it would create more of a defined area. A little table in between the chairs wouldn’t hurt either. And he could use the floor lamp. He just doesn’t know it. 😉 Not sure if building owner will allow me to replace blinds, but I intend to find out!

  13. Jacquie

    I am sorry Kristie, I hate, yes hate the term “Man Cave”! It is a forbidden term in our home…no part of our house that we have toiled over for years is a cave or even resembles one. My husband and I have favorite areas of the house and some are more his taste than mine (along with my two sons). I live with 3 men and they all have the same thought…any man that wants a cave, should go to the mountains and find one. We however, prefer a home!

  14. Linda

    Okay, the post was great…the comments hilarious! BTW I think this is an awesom man cave.

  15. Eric

    Thank you for this great article; the room looks fantastic. Not all “real” men are Hunting/Fishing/Nascar types! Though my mancave is currently a dark basement room, it is all about guitars, books(hundreds) and displaying some of my stuff so that it doesn’t rot away in a box somewhere. I like the Mid-Century modern style, so I try to have some elements of that in there. Oh, yeah, gotta have a big TV too. I like it to be a place where the kids feel comfortable hanging out and hopefully picking up a book to read.

    Unfortunately I have no windows, but I want it to be a light an airy space, even though it is a bit cramped. How do you bring in a light that appears natural in a space like that? What colors do you recommend to help? Right now its got a black ceiling and brown concrete floor, 3 cream colored walls, with 1 burnt-orange wall. Most of the furniture is Brown/Black. I hope to change it next year and am thinking maple laminate floor and some lighter colors and a white/light grey sofa. But I run out of ideas really quickly. I’d appreciate any suggestions.



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