5 ways to transform your basement into a magnificent man cave

Home Theater with bar

When it comes to a home’s interior design, women usually rule. Which is why men sometimes put their foot down on having a space they can call their own—a space to relax, unwind and enjoy all of their favorite things. They often call this their “man cave.”

“Man cave means different things to different people, but ‘escape from reality’ would be the common theme,” says H. Dale Contant, president of Atlanta Design & Build. He explains that these spaces can be themed around travel, a hobby or a passion. The space can even be family friendly, involving activities for all members of the household. For Linda Castle of Decorated Designs, this area  “allowed me to let my husband feel that he was part of the decorating by giving him a space where he could make the selections himself,” she says, smiling as she adds, “…sort of.”

Contant and Castle join several other Atlanta-area pros in outlining the following five ways to transform your basement into a relaxing man retreat. 

Home Theater
It’s official: men like big screens. (Plush seating is nice too.) Adding a “home theater” or “media room” to your man retreat incorporates these favorite features and provides a multimedia audio-visual experience with enough space for a group of friends to join. “This room can be as simple as the bonus room with a flat-screen TV and a sofa to a full theater room with leather recliners, a popcorn maker, a large screen and an overhead projector,” Castle says, “…as long as it’s a manly place to watch sports, relax with the guys and not worry about making a mess.”

Unless you have the budget to buy new equipment every two years or so, don’t worry about whether your theater is equipped with the latest and greatest technology. Buy sensibly while also keeping in mind what is already becoming outdated. For instance, buying an LED TV is smart, but the new curved OLED TVs might be a passing trend. The same goes for TVs with 3-D capability that you’ll never use. “The new technology for movie and TV viewing is hard to keep up with,” Castle notes. However, she believes that streaming movies is a feature that seems to be here to stay. In other words, investing in streaming technology is a safe bet.  

The bar is a staple in many man retreats, and for good reason! For one, it allows you to eat and drink without dealing with stairs. Also, bars are often the home-away-from-home of choice among men, so replicating that environment in their own home makes sense—not to mention the desirable social atmosphere a bar provides. One way to really trick out your bar is to install refrigerator drawers. Keep those icy old beverages and snacks within easy reach!

For men who enjoy wine, a wine cellar can be incorporated in a myriad of ways. “The wine cellar can be hidden in very small places but still perform in a robust way,” Contant says, “or it can be a visual component to show off and store the collection of a wine enthusiast.” 

Game Room
A “classic” man cave would feature overstuffed furniture, a dark stained wood bar with boot rail, and comfortable stools. It would also have a big screen TV and autographed photos of Evander Holyfield, Hank Aaron, Steve Bartkowski and Michael Jordan hitting a buzzer-beating jumper. And a pool table is a must! Men love competition, and activities such as pool, darts, foosball, arcade games and poker bring the contest into the space. You can’t have too many games!

A Room with a Gym
Whether you’re a fitness guru or just a guy who likes to lift weights every now and then, you can incorporate some equipment into your hangout area.

Standard features include: lots of mirrors, good fluorescent or LED lighting, commercial carpet with rubber area pads or a gym floor system, lots of equipment, refrigeration for water and sports drinks and a place for clean and soiled towels.

Keep your own needs in mind, advises Phil Verstrate of Premier Fitness Source. “There are two most common mistakes homeowners make when outfitting a home gym. The first is buying without thoroughly trying out the equipment. The second is buying equipment that doesn’t meet your personal exercise goals,” Verstrate says.  “Just as you would never buy a car without taking a test drive, you shouldn’t commit to exercise equipment that doesn’t have the right bio-mechanics and feel for your workouts. Does the machine adapt to your height and shape? Is it smooth? Does it feel solid and have a reputation for durability? Your personal workout preferences, previous injuries, the space limitations in your home and your budget all play important parts in choosing the equipment that best fits you.” 

Wine Cellar 101
Creating a wine cellar in your home is a great way to indulge in a personal passion, show off your collection and even to use as a tasting room or entertaining space!  Size isn’t much of a concern. Your wine cellar can be no bigger than a closet or span as grandly as the one shown above. But there are a few things to consider before you start down this tasty path. Temperature is crucial! You need to be able to ensure that this area will stay cool…but not too cool. According to Wine Spectator magazine, the ideal temperature range is between 45° F and 65° F. Also keep in mind that wine should always be stored on its side (keeping the cork wet and the seal tight) and the bottles should never be stored on top of or near anything that vibrates too much. It disturbs the sediment and could ruin the taste of the wine.  There go your plans for a two-in-one laundry room/wine cellar. 

Before Finishing the Basement…

It’s important to prepare an unfinished basement before you begin your makeover—addressing moisture concerns should be at the top of that preparation list. Aquaguard Foundation Solutions offers the following tips for prepping your unfinished basement.

•          Address all sources of standing water. Clean your gutters, regrade the soil outside and install a waterproofing system in your basement (a full-perimeter drainage system with sump pump and battery backup).

•          Eliminate humidity from the space with a basement dehumidifier.

•          Designate areas that will remain unfinished, such as a utility space for your water heater and sump pump.

•          Plan your rooms around obstacles, such as windows with an emergency exit (necessary for basement bedrooms to meet building codes) and areas of limited ceiling height.

•          Choose basement-ready finishing materials. Avoid tile that will make for cold floors underfoot, insufficient lighting and drywall that’s ruined by humidity.

Make It Family Friendly
Man caves are often created for Dad, but it’s important to keep the family in mind as well. “It is wise to separate the kids’ playroom and TV area from the bar and social room, but still be visually close to monitor activities,” H. Dale Contant advises. “We find that fun dads want the man cave for friends and adult family, but still make the space a big draw for kids and teenagers so you know where they are.” Just remember to have lockable storage for the alcohol.

Portable Projector
Portable ProjectorFor a modest price, Epson’s Home Cinema 2030 delivers on multiple fronts. Its 2,000 lumens produce three times brighter colors than the leading competitive projectors. It also has built-in speakers and an easy setup, so you can view everything from video games to streaming Google Chromecast to Monday Night Football or the latest cinematic masterpiece—all from anywhere you’d like: a different room, your backyard deck for viewing under the stars or at your buddy’s house…because he was too cheap to buy one for himself. $849.99, Epson.com


The Simple.TVTV Watching, Simplified
Say goodbye to the days of multiple DVR and cable boxes and cords everywhere. The Simple.TV server streams and records free live television, allowing for viewing at home or via mobile device anywhere in the world. All you need to do is attach an antenna, plug in your hard drive, then sit back and watch. Simple.TV is your own private TV server, recording and streaming HDTV to up to five of your friends and family at the same time, no matter where they are. $199.99-$349.99 unit, $59.99-$149.99 service plans, Visit Simple.TV


On Tap
EdgeStar Full Size Built-In Kegerator KC7000The EdgeStar Full Size Built-In Kegerator KC7000 uses forced-air refrigeration rather than cold plates, which means cold air is able to reach every nook and cranny inside the unit—including the beer tower (that’s right, no more foamy pours!) $1,499, Kegerator









Dream Arcades machineGamer’s Paradise
Relive the era of classic arcade games with machines from Dream Arcades, the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of arcade machines for the home. Machines include more than 145 classic games built in—the fun begins as soon as it’s plugged in, no quarters needed. In addition, you can add more games to the machine by purchasing additional titles, including Mortal Kombat, Space Invaders and Golden Tee Golf. $1,899-$1,999, DreamArcades.com







Mini Workout
Small space working areasYou don’t need hundreds of square feet to create a home gym. There are loads of space-saving and cost-conscious ways to devote a corner of the “man space” to shaping up. Punching bags come in all shapes and sizes and none take up a lot of floor space. Free weight rack design is getting more and more clever. You can now fit dozens of handweights in only 8 square feet. Get researching, get creative and get fit!







Simulated driving rangeSpecialty Spaces
This category could also be called a “personalized space.” Golf lovers can have a simulated driving range. Craftsmen may add a woodshop. Photographers might want a studio, musicians could add a music room, smokers a cigar room or pipe area … the list can go on and on. This is your chance to make the man cave really custom. “Make it personal—don’t make your man cave the same as your friend Joe’s,” says Monti Marsters, of Totally Accessible Homes.








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