Never say “Man Cave”. To me or to anyone. And don’t ever ask me to design one. I will design a gentleman’s lounge, a bachelor pad, a study. But I refuse to design a room for a grown man to act juvenile. It’s embarrassing and frankly, unmanly. If you need a place to “escape”, that room should inspire you to venture uncharted territory – professionally and personally. It should help make you a better man. It is a man’s retreat, not a romper room. How does a tacky lamp or beer-can sculpture strengthen your conviction or improve your swagger?
Your surroundings should make you smarter, stronger, braver, and more manly, not regress into kitsch and childishness. Certainly have fun with the place, but be clever, not tacky. There is strength in subtlety.
Think of James Bond in a bespoke tuxedo. His gold cufflinks are microphones. His Cartier Pen a covert weapon. To the uninitiated, he appears a successful, worldly man. But the double agency of his jewels and tools empower him. As your room should empower you. Whether the room starts as raw space or just plain, it must be appropriately attired. Pants/Shirt/Jacket: Flooring/Wall Finishes/Ceiling. Be generous with the finishes. Consider how the walls meet the floor, like tucking the shirt into your pants. Consider a baseboard: material, color, scale affect the attitude of the room. All elements must harmonize. As you apply finishes to the room, you are dressing it. The room is forming successfully when it commands your attention, even unfurnished.
Let’s get some furniture in there. What you put in the room are your covert instruments. Furnish the room with intention. Your primary purpose for the room is what you should indulge the most on. If it’s a study, invest in an incredible desk. This is where you may stretch your budget. If the room itself and primary furniture is high caliber, you can be thrifty on other, less visible elements.
The effort you put into the space will be empowering. Be serious. Be clever. Be playful. Be the best of you. The more time you spend there, the more you’ll feel better about who you are, and who you are becoming. You are not a man child. This is not a man cave.