The making of a man cave

By Jodi MacLean

Photo by Donna Griffeth

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When my husband, Brad, and I moved into our three-bedroom, semi-detached home, we thought it was a palace. Having come from small condos in the city, we felt we would never be able to fill two floors and an unfinished basement. But people are like goldfish: put them in a larger space and they will grow, grow, grow. Not only did our belongings grow (that basement filled up with “stuff” pretty quickly), but so did our family with the addition of a newborn son.

A fireplace ads warmth

A fireplace adds warmth

Brad and I soon realized the layout of our home—and how we were using the space—just didn’t fit in with our new family. The sunken great room on the second floor was filled with guitars, a drum kit and a computer, among other things. We called it “man land.” I saw this room as the perfect playroom for our family: bright, close to the bedrooms and spacious. The drum kit didn’t suit being so close to the bedrooms anymore.

So, we decided to turn man land into playland, and our basement of “stuff” into what is now known as the “man cave.” We had a tight budget. And what do homeowners on a tight budget do? They do it themselves. The problem was that Brad isn’t the handiest man. He didn’t mind doing the work, but he needed some guidance. With the help of his very handy father, a few good (and handy) friends and some pro help when needed, Brad finished the 600-sq.-ft. space in six weeks, all the while having a newborn son at home. (Caring for him was my contribution!)

Carve out some extra space for an office or even a spare bedroom. This office area is functional for both work and play

Carve out some extra space for an office or even a spare bedroom. This office area is functional for both work and play.

The plan

Brad and his dad drew up the perfect space for our needs on a scrap piece of paper: a decent-size home office, a large space for entertaining and relaxing, plus the laundry and furnace area already in the basement. Another issue was maximizing the space to provide as much storage as possible. (We still had lots of that “stuff” lying around.)

After the plan was drawn up, the handy pair gathered some 2x4s (which had to be fed into the basement through the ground-level windows) and began to map out the space. This process really helped us see what would work best for our needs. The hallway seemed too wide, so we were able to steal some space for the laundry room and for the office. We also discovered that a support beam would need to be moved—an easy project but one that still needed to be

budgeted for, both in time and money. Storage was added under the stairs in a closet we could access from the office.

Finally, and most important to my media-loving husband, we could see where the entertainment system would go. He wanted 
to install a projector instead of a conventional, flat-screen TV, so darkness was key. The office would be completely walled in, so if anyone was hard at work, light wouldn’t interfere with the TV’s projection. And during this map-out 
phase, Brad was able to decide where he needed electrical outlets, media cables and other wiring.

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