Man at His Best

How to: Make a Man Cave

Be the envy of all your buddies.

BY Daniel Goh | Apr 20, 2017 | Design

Illustrations by Carmen Chen

Ah, the glorious man cave. That coveted space within a man’s home that is a gateway into his universe. Make no mistake; a woman walks into a house thinking about whether a walk-in wardrobe will fit in the bedroom, but a man is thinking about which room he can turn into a super-awesome man cave that will be the envy of all his buddies. Building one from scratch takes time, serious moolah (depending on your tastes) and excellent negotiation tactics with the missus to ensure you don’t end up sleeping in said man cave. But rest assured; it will be all worth it in the end when you close the doors for the first time and feel all the troubles of the world shut out with it.

Shall we begin?

1 | The location
Planning is key to pulling this off. Before you do anything at all, take a good look at your floorplan and scout out possible locations for your man cave. Basements and attics are always a good bet, but since you won’t find many  Malaysian homes that have them, it’s time to start thinking out of the box. Do you really need that home office? Does little Timmy really need his own room? Does the laundry room really need to be that large? These are the type of questions you should be asking. A garden shed? That could work too. Imagination is everything, guys.

2 | The negotiation
This is, without a doubt, the hardest part of building the perfect man cave. Think of the argument for your man cave and the counter-argument to your partner’s inevitable rebuttal. Then execute your plan. There are bound to be curveballs thrown at you so remember to keep calm and never, under any circumstances, raise your voice—that will only exacerbate matters. If you need to stall and re-evaluate your plan of attack, “Is that your/my phone/doorbell ringing? Let’s continue this discussion later” may come in handy. Remember, careful phrasing helps, so instead of “I need time away from everyone, even you,” try “I just need a space to myself so I can remind myself of how much you mean to me.”

3 | The execution
Assuming you made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back, sir, because you are about to start work on what could be your solace from the cruel, cruel world. It’s said a man’s watch says a lot about his character, but so does his man cave. Therefore, take a moment to stand within your would-be man cave and think about what you want this room to represent. When you finally make a decision, you’ll have a greater sense of satisfaction if you build the room yourself. Let DIY store staff and YouTube be your guide on this spiritual journey.

What will it be?

1 | Cyber café
Stocked with the latest in electronic gaming, this type of man cave is perfect for those who want to get lost exploring a virtual world or role-play as a warrior elf killing other similarly complex monsters. Just remember to check the clock once in a while.

2 | Gym rat
Some free weights and a punching bag are a surprisingly good way to blow off steam after a big argument, or after finding out that that d**khead at work got a promotion over you just because he’s sleeping with your troll of a boss.

3 | Shady poker den
Relatively cheap to construct, all you need is a sturdy poker table, comfy chairs and possibly a low-hanging lamp, and you’re set. Invite your buddies over, break out the Cuban cigars and whisky, and make sure you’ve honed your game and wit, because no one likes to have no comeback to a third-degree burn when the lad-banter kicks off. Oh, and it helps if the room is on the ground floor with window access so Domino’s won’t have to wake your sleeping wife and baby.

4 | Home theatre
A couple of beanbags, a soundproof room and a good AV system are all you really need. Watching a Star Wars marathon or the game on big screen can now be done in the comfort of your own home. Imagine, instead of a TV, you got a projector. Fantastic.

And to wet the whistle?

Of course, every man cave should have a bar, regardless of size, built in. What else are you going to drink while you’re in there? Water? That’s for real life. In your own little castle, have a beer, maybe two.

1 | Lift the spirits
There’s more to spirits than just a Jack and Coke, pardon my American. Scotch whiskies are spirits distilled from fermented grain mash and wonderfully aged in oak barrels. Gin gets its flavour from juniper berries, cognac is the result of centuries of French tradition, and vodka, vodka is very Russian. There are loads out there to choose from. But telling good spirits from bad ones? That requires another manual altogether.

2 | Ice cold
Unfortunately, home brewing is illegal where we live, but there’s nothing to stop you from stocking up on the bottled variety. Thanks to the growing interest in craft beer, there are many resources from which you can get delicious microbrews from around the world. Just make sure it’s all nice and frosty when you pop the cap.

3 | Mix it up
There will come a time when the situation calls for something other than a good scotch on the rocks. Much like alchemy, mixology takes elements that are good on their own, and mixes them together to form something entirely different. Although it takes years to master, there’s no harm in getting a relatively affordable bartender’s kit for some home experiments.

This article was first published in the print edition of Esquire Malaysia, April 2017.