Man Spaces: Create a Room Just for Him

Any real estate agent will tell you investing in the kitchen and bath areas will bring homeowners the biggest bang for their buck, meaning the greatest return on investment. From stellar cooking areas to luxurious bubble baths and super

If you have the square footage, a pool table can be an entertaining addition to any man space. © Francis Harvey & Sons. Photo by Christopher Navin.
If you have the square footage, a pool table can be an entertaining addition to any man space. © Francis Harvey & Sons. Photo by Christopher Navin.

showers, these areas are always a smart place to put your money.

But those areas, and most other household spaces, are generally places where women want their style voices to be heard—and don’t want the space cluttered with a lot of memorabilia. As people put more of their own personalities into their homes, men are beginning to speak up for their own space.

If you’re contemplating adding one of these masculine spaces into your home’s design, here are a few things you should consider when planning your little slice of Y-chromosome heaven.

Marking Your Territory
“At one time, you could depend on a ‘man cave’ being in the basement or garage, furnished with cast-offs and curbside finds liberally patched with duct tape,” says C. Davis Remignanti, lead design consultant for several home design Web site, such as FurnitureFind.com. “But the media caught wind of the phenomenon, and suddenly the man cave has gone upscale.”

No longer relegated to areas that rarely see the light of day, these handsome hangouts are now centerpieces of many homes’ entertainment areas. When you’re choosing your space, however, you may want to keep in mind the effect on your home value. The return on investment (ROI) of such a personal space isn’t always stellar.

Brick or stone veneers can give any room a more masculine, authentic feel. © Eldorado Stone
Brick or stone veneers can give any room a more masculine, authentic feel. © Eldorado Stone

“The decision to proceed with creating a custom space must always be based on something other than resale value,” says Jill Westfall, a real estate reporter for Money Magazine and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. “It’s difficult to optimize ROI when doing custom spaces.”

So when you’re staking out your testosterone territory within the home, consider how long you think you’ll stay in the house, how much enjoyment you’ll get out of the space and how much you want to spend on a space that may not appeal to many buyers.

If you really want a man space, however, don’t let the resale implications discourage you. Just take them into account, particularly when you’re deciding if you should turn that vaulted-ceiling living room into an acoustically perfect video room complete with a full-service bar and disco ball.

“I usually advise my clients that using a space that is not part of the functionality of the household is best,” says Designer Charisse Lombardo, president of CLM Interiors, LLC in Ridgefield, Conn.

TV Time
In a space where there’s no one to scold that the television is too big or the speakers are too ugly, men are usually inclined to go all-out with their technology.

“Electronics are fun,” says Chuck Abbot, owner of Abbott’s Technology Design Group in Las Vegas. “Ever since the day electricity was invented, men have wanted to use it for entertainment. We can really make an entertainment room out of just about any size space, but in a man’s mind, it’s typically, ‘the bigger, the better.’ ”

Because the theater feature is so important, any good man space has got to have one fantastic TV—but one is the minimum.

“A great guy space needs multiple big-screen TVs,” says Paul Cormier, owner of Paul J. Cormier Remodeling in Yarmouth, Maine. “Three is a good number.”

Cormier has been a remodeling contractor for more than 25 years, and he says

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Deluxe spaces just for men are the focus of the book Manspace.

he’s seen an increase in not only the number of male-oriented spaces but also in their extravagance. Televisions, he says, are usually first on every guy’s mind. “Aesthetics aren’t usually high priority,” he admits.

When you’re deciding what HDTV is right not only for your space, but for your needs, as well, do your research. If you’re planning on making your man space a true theater room, however, there are more details to consider than just the big screen.

A Sound Investment: Good Audio
After choosing the perfect HDTV for their man space, most guys concern themselves with great audio. In fact, if you don’t have the money set aside for both a high-end television and top-notch audio, Joe Grady, custom system designer at Suess Electronics in Appleton, Wis., says, you should consider thinking audio first.

“Good sound creates an emotion that pictures can’t,” he says. “Sounds is also something that doesn’t change as often, so [sound systems] don’t depreciate in value as quickly.”

But when you’re thinking about your sound system, don’t forget that unless you’re in a detached garage, you need to be aware of the sound dampening—or lack thereof—in your chosen room.

Cormier says you if you’re building an addition to your home and planning to add a man space, talk to your contractor about adding extra soundproofing.

But if you’re renovating an existing room that isn’t detached, you can try to remediate the sound issues a bit.

“Going with plush furniture and overstuffed chairs can help,” he says. Rugs and other cushy floor coverings will also absorb and dampen sound.

Feeding Man Space Hunger
A man space isn’t just for the guy whose home it’s in. It’s for his buddies, too.

“One of the great things about these rooms is they can be a cheap way to have fun,” Cormier says. “Instead of going to a bar or whatever, you and your buddies and break open a few six packs and watch sports right in your home.”

Because these areas are about entertaining, as well, it’s important to consider how you’re going to feed those man-sized hunger (and thirst) pangs without constantly having to go to the family areas. One solution: a wet bar. Cormier says it can be anything from a mini-fridge to a deluxe bar space stocked with beer and food to feed a small army, as long as the guy is comfortable with it. And even if it feels a little like a frat party prep station to a woman, it can be a really fun, comforting place to a man, says Jeremy Biser, publisher of the Web site DiscoveringDad.net.

“The only thing I feel like I’m missing from my man space is a kegerator and a pinball machine,” he says.

It’s All Fun and Games
While televisions may be center stage, many men still enjoy a few old-fashioned fun and games in their space.

“My man space is filled with tons of toys,” says Biser. “It’s an entertainment paradise with two TVs, a pool table, a bar, a game table, a slot machine, Xbox, poker table and dart boards,” he says. “There’s something for everyone to do.”

Budgeting for Your Manly Space

A man space can be successfully executed on almost any price point. If your budget is low but your desire for a man space is high, try these tips for throwing together your perfect man space on a shoestring.
Plan first: Know how much you can spend. Whether it’s $200 or $20,000, there will always be decisions to make about what can and can’t go into the space. Think about what’s most important for your enjoyment of the space.
Hold off on things you can easily add later: If you’re dying for multiple TVs but the budget won’t budge, skip the extra screens for now and go with design and structural aspects that should all be done in the beginning. Don’t skip staining concrete subfloors because you crave two sets when you can easily add another TV in the future.
Don’t skimp on installation: If you’re blowing your whole budget on electronics, save some money for a professional install. It will save you a lot of time and heartache, and you’ll know it’s done properly and your expensive electronic investments are safely wired.
Stretch your money with creative solutions: Rather than box in a whole exposed basement ceiling with drywall, pull out the spray paint and give it a masculine, industrial dark color. Spend time rather than money by painting yourself—team colors with stripes and logo sticker decals are a popular option. And decorate with keepsakes. Pull out those old t-shirts, jerseys or posters you’ve had stored away and give your room its own personal nostalgia.

For many men, space is the only thing holding them back from creating a mini-Vegas like Biser’s. Lombardo says being realistic about what your space can handle may be tough, but it can save you time and money in the end. She says if you try shoving a pool table into a room adjacent to your master suite, you’ll soon realize your buddies are having to traipse through your boudoir to get to the entertainment area. This can create tension in a household, she says. Instead, really think through both the square footage issues and how you actually use the space.

“Good design means good planning,” Lombardo says.

A Man’s Touch
Finally, remember that this area is a man’s opportunity to express himself. “Men want a really comfortable space to downshift after a long, bearish day,” says Jamie Goldberg, owner of Jamie Goldberg Kitchen and Bath Design, LLC in Tampa, Fla. “It should also meet their emotional needs for ‘caving’ without family distractions, and ‘crowning,’ by showcasing personal crowning achievements like trophy fish, hole-in-one souvenirs, a prized watch collection or whatever is a source of pride.”

For Brad Bolton, of Denver, Co., this meant a room to showcase his “three displayed guitars, a dozen amps, two huge sound reinforcement systems, 53 guitar lights including dozens of bright neon dealer signs, banners, guitar memorabilia, a full set of drums and numerous other collectibles. There may be just as much boyhood wonderment in the man room as there is a display of testosterone,” Bolton says. “It has to reflect the passion and love of the man to whom it belongs.”

Credit: Renovate Your World