If you’re new to the world of man caves or just want some more information about their history, we’ve put together this article to answer your questions. Think of it as Man Caves 101. Let’s get started.
What’s the definition of a man cave?
A man cave is an area separate from the rest of the house where the man of the house can go to relax and do the things he enjoys.
It can be anything that he wants it to be. It doesn’t have to have anything significant; just a space where a man can retreat from the stresses of his life.
When were man caves invented? What is the origin of the term “man cave”?
Traditionally speaking, women are considered the primary housekeepers. This means that they are in charge of decision making regarding decorating and furnishing the home. As long as there have been homes, there have been man caves for those who could afford them. They just may have been called something different, such as a den or a study, but they have always been a part of the house that a man can have to himself.
The term “man cave” was first written in print in 1992 in a column in the Toronto Star. While coming up with joke names for parts of a typical house, writer Joanne Lovering nicknamed the basement the “man cave.”
The term was popularized throughout the 1990s after John Gray published his book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. In the book, he suggested that a man needed to retreat to his “cave” when overwhelmed by the stresses of work and family. At the same time, the suburbanization of America was reaching its peak. The suburbs were generally middle class, which means that while they didn’t live in mansions, fathers and husbands were financially able to claim at least a small portion of the home for themselves. This reinforced the idea of a “cave.”
What do guys do in their man caves?
Stereotypically, a man cave is a place where guys go to drink beer and watch sports. And while that is definitely true in some cases, more generally, a man cave is a place for a man to go to do whatever he enjoys. Man caves can also be used for a multitude of activities including (but not limited to):
- Watching TV
- Watching movies (Check out list of 100 manliest movies since 1980)
- Drinking and hanging out with friends
- Playing games (pool, darts, etc.)
- Play poker (need to host a poker night)
- Playing video games
- Working on cars
- Working out (our guide to building a home gym click here)
What goes in a man cave?
What is in a man cave will depend on what it is used for. Most man caves will have two basic things, a TV and a place to sit. The rest of the things in a man cave can vary widely based on what the owner uses it for. Is it a place for alone time? Or is it a place to hang out with friends? Some of the most common items found in man caves include:
For a list of some more unique items check out our list of 10 Man Cave Gifts He Didn’t Know Existed.
What are Some Examples of Man Caves from Pop Culture?
Sam Martin, author of the book Manspace: A Primal Guide to Marking Your Territory, lists some of his favorite man caves from pop culture including:
- The Bada Bing back room in The Sopranos
- The Playboy Mansion
- Fonz’s bathroom office in Happy Days
- The Tool Time garage in Home Improvement
- Jerry’s apartment in Seinfeld
- Al Bundy’s garage in Married… with Children
- Doug’s garage in The King of Queens
While not all of these aren’t typical man caves, they are good examples of spaces for guys to hang out. Some others that could be added to the list are:
- The basement in Wayne’s World
- Adam’s garage in Man With A Plan
What are some other names for a man cave?
While “man cave” has become the most popular term for a man’s getaway room, there a some other terms used as well:
What is a man cave for a woman called?
Obviously, man caves are for men. But women need a space of their own to get away, too. While this has always been the case, only recently have there been names for woman caves. Some popular names for the female version on the man cave include:
- She shed
- Lady lair
- Lady lounge
- Mom cave
- Femme den
Where in the house are man caves located?
A man cave can be located anywhere in the house that is separate enough from the rest of the house that it provides privacy. They are typically found in a few places:
In addition to the usual places, man caves can also be located outdoors in the right climates or if you only plan to use it part of the year. There’s nothing better than being able to watch football on an outdoor TV on a warm fall day.
How much does a man cave cost?
Man caves can range from a chair and TV, to a full blown movie theatre style media room, and beyond. A man cave can be whatever the owner wants it to be, making this is a very difficult question to answer, but we tried our best. Check out our article How Much Does It Cost To Build A Man Cave.
Obviously, if you just want a simple space to call your own and already own everything you need, it could be free. If you want an elaborate space with every game and gadget imaginable, there really is no cap to how much you could spend.
Who is a man cave for?
Any guy can have a man cave, but bachelors don’t really need one. They have the whole house or apartment to set up how they want it. In fact, host of TV show Man Caves Jason Cameron has helped build over 100 man caves, but as a single guy he doesn’t even have one of his own.
The most common demographic of man cave owners is married men with children. They just need a space to call their own, get away from their everyday stresses, and relax.
Some men wait until they are retired and their kids have moved out to build their dream space. At that point, they are living the dream. Instead of waking up to alarm to go to work all day, they wake up and hang out in their man cave all day.
Why do men need man caves?
We’ve already said that a man cave is a place for men to go to relax, and the most common activity is watching TV. So why can’t guys just watch TV in the living room like everyone else?
Let’s be honest, guys act different when they are around women and children than when they are by themselves or hanging out with other guys. A man cave is safe space for guys to be guys without worrying about being judged for reading comic books. The rules of the man cave are different from the rules of the rest of the house.
What are some man cave rules?
The owner of the man cave can make whatever rules he wants, but some rules are more common than others. Some guys are so laid back that the only rule is there are no rules. We created a list of 100 man cave rules, but here is just a sample of a few of the more common rules:
- My cave, my rules
- No women or children
- Only Dad sits in the recliner
- No chick flicks
- The remote is mine
- Junk food is nutrition
- The TV is for sports only
What are some man cave theme ideas?
Men can make their man cave theme anything that they want it to be. It doesn’t even have to have a theme, but some of the best man caves are built around a central motif. You can create your theme around what interests you. Some examples are:
- Your favorite sport or sports team
- Comic books
- Classic cars
- Craft beer and brewing
- Hunting and fishing
- Star Wars (Check out our great star wars ideas here)
- Video Games
The list is absolutely endless and you don’t have to stick to just one. If you’re into video games and comic books, combine them both into your ultimate man cave.
How do I convince my wife to let me have a man cave?
We’ve seen some bad advice in regard to this question. Some guys will tell you, “Put your foot down. You’re the man of the house. You can do whatever you want.”
If that were true, you wouldn’t need a space of your own.
The answer really depends on your specific situation, but most women don’t enjoy watching football all weekend or having a putting green in their bedroom. Let your wife know that all of your annoying hobbies will be confined to just that one room. She’ll never have to watch you play video games on the living room TV again or listen to you watch 8 hours of straight football.
How Do I Build My Own Man Cave?
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to get started on your own man cave. If all you want is a comfortable chair and a large screen TV, that’s fine. But if you want to step it up a notch, we’ve put together a Guide to Creating the Ultimate Man Cave.