Monday, February 08, 2010

The Man Cave

Having a getaway room in the home works for me. I now have three of them including my garage, the basement and my upstairs office. None would be considered a “Man Cave” according to what seems to be the new definition of what was once known as the recreation room.

An email landed in my inbox this morning from a DYI television show, which I have never seen since my cable does not carry the DIY Network, called Man Caves. The program is co-hosted by a licensed contractor named Jason Cameron (a very manly name) and retired football player Tony Siragusa (for added testosterone I guess). The network is offering a $50,000 Man Cave build out. Yes, I entered the sweepstakes.

A link provided in the email led me to watch various episodes where a homeowner wants his basement turned into his own personalized living space. This program wasn't much different from those HGTV home makeover shows that women (and…well…some guys) like to watch. Watching people renovate structures bores me to death. Watching “how-to” programs are fine if they actually can teach something but most are for entertainment purposes generally attractive to women looking for decorating ideas.

In my first home I hired a retired carpenter to help me turn totally unfinished empty attic space into a bed, bath and office adding a lot of sweat equity to the home. Going from a two bed one bath into a three bed two bath for less than having a contractor do it was a smart move financially but it removed one year from my personal life.

Television editing cuts out all of the time consuming labor to make renovation projects appear as if anyone can do it in a snap. Without the part time help from the old carpenter I could not have done it myself. It needed plumbing, electrical and heat. That’s where old Frank came in and made me pleased I hired him and he came cheap.

But Man Cave? Is this manly or some new suburban metrosexual trend?

On the television show the hosts take the owners hobbies and interests then use that as a cute, coordinated visual theme for the lucky fella’s new Man Cave. Here’s one they did for a ski enthusiast.

Each of the four episodes I watched had the obligatory 52' big screen flat panel television, surround sound home theatre and of course a bar.

I watched a few other examples where they constructed and decorated Man Caves using outdoor, motorcycle, pub, rock star and other themes. It was too cute for me and a bit chick-like even though there was not one person on the crew who I would call a gay decorator. That doesn't mean there's at lest one in the background off camera judging by some of the Man Cave makeover looks they did. While I am somewhat artistic there's something creepy about interior decorating to me. Picking out stone, flooring, colors, wall treatments, nick-naks and coordinating the whole schmear. Some of the stuff I saw looked like it may have been heading too far into a Disneyworld theme bar territory for my taste.

We turned our basement into a finished room years ago but never decorating it in any theme. There was space built for a bar but I never got around to completing it. There’s a pool table, television, refrigerator. hide-a-bed for overnight guests and a toilet room. It's a nice space to have when hosting Thanksgiving for thirty.

The Man Cave program has inspired me to consider finishing the bar area. Maybe I will get into some wall treatments such as beaded wood planks and cabinets or something. Old weathered barn siding may be nice. If I went with a theme it would be the outdoors and it would be rustic. Any photos or taxidermy would be my own, not some replica crap. I also have my old, and I do mean old American Flyer electric train set. It will be included in my own "Man Cave" makeover if I go that far.

What I may attempt is completely within my skill range since the plumbing and electrical is already in place. It would give me something to do when business slows down, which it has. One thing I will not do is to start collecting mAntiques.

Maybe I’ll get started on it. Tomorrow.


Dan from Madison said...

Interesting clip - but some of that stuff isn't exactly manly. That fireplace sux - real wood or go home.

I don't know, these man rooms are pretty cool, but there is a part of me that needs it a bit spartan - as long as there is a big ass TV, some comfortable furniture and a few nice decorations I am happy and the women won't want to hang around there very much.

I thought your garage was perfect for a man room just the way it was. A couple of stools, bench, tv, fridge stocked with beer, voila.

Jonathan said...

The whole man cave idea is gay. How many men are into decorating, manly or otherwise? I'm guessing the shows are driven by advertisers more than by any grass-roots interest on the part of ordinary male viewers.

Gerry from Valpo said...

It is definitely gay. But there are plenty of metrosexual suburban dorks who seem to be into it.

John said...

But Man Cave? Is this manly or some new suburban metrosexual trend?

My wife watched this show and told me about it. That's pretty much her assessment -- men who insist on having a very fancy, plush room all to themselves when they really can't afford it are selfish.

My father-in-law has a shed. It's a literal shed in the backyard, which he built himself, and gradually added water and electricity. It's a workshop with primitive fixtures and folding chairs. That's a real man's mancave -- not anything that requires a professional interior designer. Craftsmen, yes. Designers, no.

Gerry from Valpo said...

Yes John, men just aren't what they once were. The shed sounds good. The new man cave show and what they are doing is for pussies. Call me an old school heterosexual breeder.

johnnyj said...

Hah! Didn't we cover this last year!?

The 'man cave' is just that: No women allowed ("no Ma'am" says Al Bundy)...It's full of Hunting and Fishing "mAntiques," Stinks to high-heaven, has a mini keg fridge and is fully stocked with fine beverages--maybe a foosball or pool table for sh1ts and giggles...

It usually has all the old appliances and crappy furniture that the old lady decided to replace in the 'presentable' portion of the house...

Basically a frat house so you can act like a college boy again...It's a beautiful thing.

Jonathan said...

I like the shed concept even better than the unfinished basement or garage. With the shed you are almost outdoors, which adds to the appeal. And for those who do not understand the shed/workshop ethos, you can refer to it as your "studio" without blowing your cover.

Gerry from Valpo said...

My favorite "hetero male retreat"was at my old hunting buddy Doug's. It was an unattached two car garage with an extension for woodworking tools. It always had that sweet smell of cut lumber and split oak. It had a wood stove made from an oil drum. We would go there and get blind drunk after hunting or ice fishing outings.

Carl from Chicago said...

Ha or you can just live in the city

My man cave is a bar with real female bartenders

Right across the street

One tiny benefit of the land of high taxes

Gerry from Valpo said...

"Ha or you can just live in the city"

Been there done that. None for me, thanks.

In the city the original " Man Cave" is a bar on Halsted near Belmont. I read that a new location is opening soon in the "mAndersonville" neighborhood.