How to Create a Classy Man Cave that Doesn’t Look Tacky

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by  William Barton | Last Updated:  May 28, 2021

Can a guy get some peace and quiet around here?

Of course that’s not too much to ask. 

I’ve always assumed that every guy wants their own space to retire to after putting in long hours at work all day. 

Maybe a place to kick back on a rich leather chair, grab a book, sip a tasty beverage. You know, a place to relax.

Maybe you don’t have one of those places right now. That’s ok. I’m going to show you exactly how to set up your man cave in a way that’s sophisticated and inviting—so people actually want to spend time in it.

What You’ll Need to Set up Your Dream Man Cave

leather chair in man cave

Now, a man cave doesn’t have to be well-thought out or designed. You can throw whatever sports memorabilia you have lying around on the walls and call it a day. 

But that’s not what we’re after here. I want to discuss how to build a man cave that actually looks and feels amazing.

I’ll be using my own space to demonstrate a few concepts. This is a second bedroom, and it also acts as an office. There’s not a lot of room to play with, so I picked up just a few basics that make the room feel relaxing and intimate. 

Here’s what you’ll need to do the same:

  • A place to sit (a chair or couch)
  • A bookshelf
  • Lamps
  • Wall hangings (art, sports memorabilia, etc.)
  • TV (optional)
  • Desk (optional)

How to Create a Man Cave

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If you approach the task of building a man cave with some intention, you can end up with some pretty incredible results. Here’s how to start.

Step 1: Make a plan

Don’t just start randomly throwing whatever you own up on the walls. 

Take a peek around the web and find some inspiration. Is there a certain style of man cave that jumps out at you? 

There’s the library aesthetic (my favorite).

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The wet-bar-centric.

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The sports arena.

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The road show. 

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Obviously, not all the above man caves are within reach for most of us. I’m certainly not about to put a Lambo in my second bedroom for kicks and giggles. 

But if you look through all the different options there are, you’ll likely find a certain aesthetic that catches your eye. So did you like the sports theme? Or do you want a stable of fine wines? 

It’s your choice, but before you start buying furniture, it’s wise to pick a theme that suits your budget and sets you up with anything that will help you relax. 

Step 2: Define the centerpiece

Picking out a centerpiece will help guide the rest of your man cave decisions. It’s a continuation of step 1, but it’s likely the biggest purchase you’re going to make for your man cave. 

When building my man cave, I focused on my most relaxing activity: reading. So what did I choose for my centerpiece? 

broad view of man cave with leather chair

I went with a leather chair and bookcase combo. 

I picked up the Jensen Leather Chair and the Midtown Bookcase from Apt2B, which is an excellent place to pick up furniture, lamps, and wall hangings for your man cave. These pieces are refined and classy, but they’re not going to thin my wallet too much. 

The Jensen Leather chair is super comfortable, and has that kind of bounce to it that makes you want to kick back and sip a scotch on the rocks. 

Jensen Leather Chair from Apt2B

The Jensen Leather chair is super comfortable, and has that kind of bounce to it that makes you want to kick back and sip a scotch on the rocks.

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I’ve also been loving the Midtown Bookcase—it has the look and feel of a much pricier piece. The wood grain shows through and I love the brass end-caps on the legs. They match really well with the lamps I added to my man cave.

Since I was looking to create a cool look for a reasonable price, shopping with Apt2B got me to a style I’m happy with and left a little wiggle room in my budget.

I think a bookcase is a must for any man cave. Why? It’s really just shelving, so even if you’re not a big reader, you can still use it for decoration. 

For instance, my bookshelf has all my favorite books on two shelves. Another shelf has a nice collection of cigars from La Aurora (I’m a Dominican cigar guy), a few heavy-bottomed bourbon glasses along with a couple select bottles of liquor, pocket knives, and my camera gear. 

Apt 2b trinkets on bookcase

It’s not jam-packed. I’ve left some room for each item to stand on its own and make a statement. 

Honestly, I didn’t magically know this element of style: I picked it up from looking through Pinterest and Instagram—those resources are going to help you a lot when you’re not sure how to arrange things.  

Midtown Bookcase from Apt2B

Fill up the Midtown with your favorite books, or just let a few choice items stand out. The textured wood grain gives it a rich feel that pairs well with the brass accents.

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Step 3: Nail the lighting

The kind of lighting you get should match the vibe you’re going for. 

If you want a bright game room, having overhead lights that mimic natural light might be a great way to go. 

If you’re building a sports-bar look, having hanging lights with colorful shades around them will just add to the aesthetic. 

Apt 2b stetson table lamp lighting leather chair

Since I’m going with a “study” type look, I chose two brass lamps as my main lighting. The yellow hue of the light is cozy and calming. 

I opted for the Stenton Floor Lamp from Apt2B next to the leather chair to give me light when I read—it’s stylish and functional.

And I picked up Apt2B’s Stenton Table Lamp as a desk piece (and it matches perfectly because it’s a smaller version of the floor lamp). The accent light adds more depth to the room and ties the look together better. 

Really, figuring out the lighting is one of the most important factors. When looking through images for inspiration, make note of what kind of lighting is being used, including how it’s hung and the value of the light (whether it’s blueish like daylight, or warm incandescent light).

Stenton Table Lamp from Apt2B

The Stenton series of lamps have a unique look and feel, and can act as the perfect accent piece for your man cave.

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Step 4: Find a few wall hangings

No matter what look you’re going for, you need something to hang on the walls. 

This can be art, photography, sports jerseys, old license plates, bar signs, college degrees, movie posters—whatever. 

Ideally they match the aesthetic of your man cave. 

Apt 2b portrait of a highland cow in office

On my wall, I’m hanging photography. The first piece I got to start the wall is from Apt2B, and it’s a funny looking highland cow. If you want in on this highland cow action, you can get the Portrait of a Highland Cow by Dorit Fuhg here

Photography is a big part of my life, and I have a lot of wildlife photos from trips to Africa that I’m working on printing and displaying in a similar manner. 

So while I don’t have every wall decoration I want at the moment, I’ve set out the vibe early on. Now it’s a matter of investing the time and energy into printing and hanging the other pieces. 

That’s what I recommend you do, too. 

If you want a sports-themed man cave, start with the one signed jersey you have now. Put it in a nice frame in a way that makes you proud to display it. It doesn’t matter if you’d rather have five in a row like you saw in that Instagram image—you’ll eventually get there. 

If you set out the intention up front by hanging what you have or can afford right now, it’s much easier to continue the aesthetic until a few years later when you have a space that all your friends are jealous of. 

Portrait of a Highland Cow from Apt2B

Don't you want this guy looking out over you?

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Step 5: Fill out the details

What’s important to you?

Fishing? The Los Angeles Lakers? Chevy trucks? Beer? Italian sports cars? Ridiculously good looking women? 

Whatever it is, now’s your chance to gather up the details that’ll make your man cave pop. 

leather chair in man cave 1

Not everything you put in your man cave has to be super important to you. Some details can be supporting actors.

For instance, I keep a box of cigars and a few bottles of nice liquor in my man cave. But whenever I pour a glass, I usually head to the living room. And I certainly don’t smoke my cigars in the man cave—I’d never get my apartment deposit back. 

But I think they look cool together, so I add them in the bookshelf. 

However, my books are super important to me, and I keep some of my favorites at hand at all times. These are the books that I go back to often. Some I read every year—others I flip through every other year just to refresh my memory. 

These books get their own space. And that should be true for whatever is most important to you. 

Don’t be afraid to make a detail a focal point through lighting or placement. 

Are you proud of that graduate degree? Hang it on the wall and aim a pinlight at it. 

Or maybe it’s a replica football helmet from your alma mater: put it on a shelf alone and let it own the space. 

Avoid clutter. It’s the enemy of a well decorated space. 

Pick a few things that really represent your passions, interests, and experiences and let them shine. You don’t need to cram your collection of foam beer koozies right next to the special watchbox your wife got you for your 10th anniversary. Pack away the koozies, and let the watchbox stand on its own. 

Your Sanctuary

Your man cave should be a relaxing place to spend a bit of time. 

But remember, it’s not just for you. Sure, you’re going to decide what goes in it, but ultimately the goal is to share the space with people you love. 

Whether it’s a sort of party room you can invite the guys into on game day, or a chill spot to drink a glass of wine with your wife. 

When you tackle the problem from that angle—that the space is meant to be shared—you’ll have no trouble picking out the perfect decorations and setting a scene. 

You think you’re up for the challenge?

FAQs

What is in a man cave?

A man cave can have anything you want in it. Like cars? Hang some cool pictures of vintage vehicles on the wall. Like to take the edge off at the end of a long day? Create a space for a few bottles of bourbon and two glasses. Your man cave should have somewhere to sit, too. Aim for a leather couch or chair to set the mood.

How much does a man cave cost?

Man caves range in price, and you can create a great looking space at any budget. Depending on the size of the space, you can start at $1,000 and see where that gets you. Some man caves can cost $20,000 and beyond, though those are very intricate and feature massive screens or extensive bars.

Why does my husband need a man cave?

Men need a place of their own—a place dictated only by their own influence. If he’s a bit sloppy, you can ask him to keep his mess to his man cave, and that’ll help you keep the rest of the place more tidy. When he’s thinking, he has a space for that. When he’s frustrated, he can blow off steam there.

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