Whether they’re single, newly married, a family man, or even retired, most guys like having a space within their home they can escape to for some “me time” and relaxation. This space is often referred to as a “man cave,” and is often in a basement.
Man cave rooms serve several purposes and allow men to have creative freedom over their own space while allowing their wives, girlfriends, or significant others to have control over how the rest of the home is decorated. Guys also do not necessarily have to be too careful about the level of tidiness in their man caves since it is their own personal space.
Man caves allow you to get together with your other male friends, enjoy hobbies, or spend some time alone doing what you want. Some guys may have a “guys only” rule about their man caves, but most are more flexible and allow some women to visit periodically, perhaps to watch the Super Bowl or the World Series, together with a group of friends.
Step 1: Preparing to Convert Your Basement into a Man Cave
Designing the ultimate man cave does require some planning and preparations. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to not have a plan. Your plan is essential to developing your budget for your project and ensures you keep costs under control.
While you are creating your plan, think about what items and features you would like to incorporate into your man cave design. Some essential items most guys like to have include:
- Wide Screen TV
- Surround Sound System
- Video Game System
- Comfortable Seating
- Bar Stools
- Pool Table
- Poker Table
- Dart Board
- Small refrigerator
- Bar and/or Kitchenette
- Sports Trophies/Memorabilia
- Neon Signs
Some guys like to create a theme for their man cave design that reflects their own personal tastes and styles. Some common man cave themes are:
- Ultimate Video Game Room – The man cave is designed around the types of video games you enjoy playing and should include easy access to all of your gaming consoles and games.
- Ultimate Game Room – This theme is for guys who enjoy playing pool, poker, darts, or other non-video games.
- Ultimate Sports Fan Room – For avid sports fans, this theme includes decorating the room in your favorite teams’ colors, hanging sports-related pictures, displaying your own sports trophies, and so on.
- Ultimate Movie Room – With this themed design you may want a high-end surround sound system (with subwoofer) to make it feel like you are at the movies, while you enjoy your favorite films.
- Ultimate Music Room – This room may include a turntable, high-end speakers, guitars, piano, drums, etc. This can be tailored to musicians, music lovers or both.
TIP: It is perfectly acceptable to incorporate multiple themes into your man cave design if you have different interests.
It’s helpful to sketch out the floor plan and where you want to place items in your man cave to fully develop your ideas. Once you have your rough design, the next step is to determine what type of work is needed to convert the space.
Step 2: Create Your Man Cave Budget
Now that you have a rough design of your man cave, you need to start developing your project budget.
- Measure the basement’s dimensions: length, width, and height.
- Make a list of what materials you will need for the conversion process, such as drywall, paint, and flooring.
- Using the measurements, estimate the quantity of materials required for the project.
- Obtain pricing on the materials and multiply these by the quantity needed.
- Total up the costs to get a rough estimate of your project budget.
TIP: It’s beneficial to have a cushion in your budget and overestimate project costs by approximately 15%, as there are often miscellaneous materials you will forget about initially.
If you are using contractors to do some or all of the basement conversion work, it is at this step you would start obtaining quotes and deciding which contractors you are going to hire. You would use the contractors’ quotes, along with any materials costs for work you were doing yourself, to estimate your total project costs.
TIP: Remember to be realistic with what you want and choose items that fit within your budget.
Step 3: Converting Your Basement
It’s important to correctly finish the basement and not rush through these processes; otherwise, down the road, you may encounter problems that are costly to fix.
- Prepare the Walls – You will want to have the walls waterproofed and sealed to keep water out. If there are small cracks in the walls, eventually water can get through. The last thing you want to do is come home and head to your man cave and discover it is flooded.
- Prepare the Floors – Concrete floors also need to be waterproofed and sealed. Concrete will seep out moisture with changes in temperatures. If you are planning on installing laminate or another flooring, a special waterproofed underlayment must be installed prior to the actual flooring.
- Get a Sump Pump Installed – If water or moisture are existing problems in your basement, you may need to get a sump pump installed as part of the waterproofing processes to help keep the basement dry.
- Prepare the Ceiling – Most basement ceilings have exposed support beams, wiring, and plumbing. You may want to hide this by installing some form of ceiling. You will want to make sure the pipes are not leaking, and you might want to insulate them. Remember to include easy access in your ceiling design, like openable sections in vital areas if you are not using drop tiles.
- Run Electrical and Internet Wiring – If you need to have electrical outlets added, wiring for overhead lighting, or want hard-wired access to your internet modem, you should do these things now.
- Have New Plumbing Installed – If you are adding a bathroom or kitchenette, you will want to have it professionally plumbed and the toilet installed during this step of the conversion project.
- Have HVAC Vents Installed – If you don’t have any air vents in the basement but want some, now is the time to get them installed. If you’re installing a drop ceiling and have existing vents, these will need to be lowered.
TIP: Consider hiring qualified contractors to perform some or all of the early conversion prep work so it is done correctly and satisfies current building code standards.
Step 4: Finishing the Basement Conversion
Once you have completed all of the preparatory work for the conversion, the next step to designing the ultimate man cave is to start putting the finishing touches on the basement. During this step you will want to:
- Hang drywall or paneling.
- Install the ceiling.
- Paint the walls.
- Install the flooring.
- Install bathroom and kitchenette cabinets, countertop, sink, and faucet.
- Install any built-in components, like a built-in entertainment center.
- Move in the furniture.
- Connect your electronics.
- Stock your refrigerator or bar.
- Hang up posters, pictures, and light-up signs.
Decorating Tips: You probably already have existing items, which may be packed away in the attic or garage, for decorating your man cave, like your collection of sports trophies from high school or college. Consider going through these to see what you already have and could use to help save some money.
Thrift stores are also a great resource for finding different types of quirky man cave items at affordable prices. It’s not uncommon to find items other guys have gotten rid of because their significant others don’t want them in their homes.
Design Ideas for Smaller Spaces
If you must share part of the basement space for other purposes, like seasonal storage or a laundry room, you will want to make sure to enclose your man cave space for complete privacy. There are several potential ways to do this:
- Build a new wall with a conventional door.
- Install a track system of sliding doors.
- Build a new wall and use a pocket sliding door to save precious room space.
Aside from maintaining your privacy, you could consider combining a kitchenette with a bar countertop and bar stools to save on space. Another great idea is a multi-purpose gaming table which is used to play poker, chess, checkers, and other such card and tabletop games, that can also be flipped over and/or covered with a tablecloth for use as a dining table.
Regardless of the amount of space you have to design your ultimate man cave, just remember to have fun, and create a space that reflects your personality and interests. If you can’t afford to do everything you want initially, no sweat. You can add new features to your man cave later.
When you need basement or air quality services, Budget Waterproofing can help. In addition to waterproofing, mold remediation, mold cleaning, and crawl space encapsulation, we provide foundation repair, going beyond patching cracks to find the source of the problem. We also offer installation of the EZ Breathe home ventilation system, to clean the air inside your home. At Budget Waterproofing, we have more than 55 years of experience servicing both commercial and residential customers throughout Maryland. We’re proud of our craftsmanship and confident in our skills, and all of our technicians are fully licensed and insured. For more information, contact us today.