What’s the best type of man cave?

Think of a ‘man cave’ and what essential elements do you visualise? A drinks fridge? A drum kit and space to play air guitar? An Xbox?

According to Buzzfeed, the must-have items for a man-cave also include numerous Star Wars accessories (a Darth Vader fridge, anyone?) hammocks, and beer-themed light fittings.

In other people’s eyes, the man cave may be a minimalist hi-tech haven, away from the clutter of children’s belongings or a partner’s taste for chintz. Or a Harley heaven in a garage, scattered with motorcycle parts and oily rags. Or a simple timber workshop, with potting materials, tools and space to potter.

For this is the thing about a man cave – it can be anything you want. According to one definition in the Urban Dictionary, it’s “A room, space, corner or area of a dwelling that is specifically reserved for a male person to be in a solitary condition, away from the rest of the household in order to work, play, involve himself in certain hobbies, activities without interruption.”

If you think of it like that, then there should be ‘woman caves’ or ‘girl caves’ too.

Man caves (and their female equivalent) are somewhere for people to be themselves. Indeed, there have been academic articles written about their psychological importance as bastions of masculinity and refuges from stress. So, basically a man cave doesn’t have to be a cave, or belong to a man; it just has to be a room of one’s own. A children’s playhouse for an adult.

In most people’s homes these days, there are not the necessary spare rooms for people to have their own den. And even if there are enough rooms, or the funds or space to build an extension, that may not be enough.

Distance is required. Not so far away that you never get the chance to go there. But far enough away to test the highest volume setting on the speakers.

The answer lies in the garden.

Within the walls of a large garden shed, garage or even a log cabin, the décor can reflect aspects of your taste that the rest of the family would rather not see. If that means creating a miniature pub or a scene from 1950s America, then a timber cabin or garden room can accommodate it.

The personal space afforded by a man cave (or girl cave) also allows the pursuit of a hobby that may not fit with family life. Model building or silversmithing doesn’t cohabit so well with young children. Nor meditation, the pursuit of a better chess rating, or writing a first novel.

So, a Darth Vader fridge may be number 1 on some people’s man-cave wishlist, but more practical are the following points for getting the perfect garden man cave:

  • Think about space. If you want to play pool, air guitar or practice your golf swing, you need the dimensions to do it. And if you fear that other people will colonise your log cabin as a storeroom for garden furniture, look for a garden building with a separate storage area.
  • Think about light. Do you want a log cabin with clear roof panels and lots of windows for an airy, bright space that’s ideal for painting or bird watching? Or do you want more of a dark environment, where your air guitar playing cannot be seen through the windows?
  • Think about warmth. Look for log cabins and garden rooms with dense, Nordic timber. This should offer better insulation than fast-grown Mediterranean timber. For man-caving all year round, look for log thicknesses of 44mm or more.
  • Think about karma. Consider the environment and sustainability, and before making your purchase check for the FSC logo to make sure your chosen garden room is built from timber sourced from forests that have been managed sustainable.
  • Think about where your ‘cave’ will go in the garden. Most garden log cabin websites sell traditional log cabin designs, but be on the lookout for more modern corner designs (which are perfect if you don’t have much space in the garden), or structures that feature covered areas that would be perfect for a fire pit or barbecue.
  • And finally, think about access. If you want to wheel re-conditioned Harleys in and out, or install gym equipment, go for double doors.

Decisions, decisions, but in the long term they’re probably more important than which type of Star Wars light fitting you choose!

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