There are certain transmission repair shops, bait stores and old time bars where you immediately feel right at home. For want of another term, this comfort area is called a Man Cave. In your house, sometimes it’s the only place where you feel at home.
A true man cave will slowly fill with junk banished from the house by the wife and family. Like that stuffed big toothed boar missing an ear. The plastic Spuds McKenzie dog statue. Or the fish plaque that sings Take Me to the River.
In building a Man Cave, stuff should be thrown in without any regard to appearance. Comfort and usability is paramont. The most important rule is to never decorate.
Do not buy anything advertised at Target for a Man Cave. They will surely be made in China and will label you as a sap. Your friends will shun you.
A work bench is good to have with trout flies, a grinding wheel, carb rebuild kit and boxes of tools. However a pegboard with outlined tools shapes is only ok if the board is over 50 years old. A recently made one just shows you are an anal retentive. This would not put people at ease. Like a new carpet, plastic over the couch or too many coasters. Coasters are ok as we are not clods and the tables in our Man Cave might have great vintage or collectible interest. White water rings left by glasses destroy the value.
Coasters should be chosen with great care. Two rules apply here: They should never be new, made to look old. They should never have “funny” life slogans on them. For a Man Cave, coasters should be stolen from hotel bars across the world. Think of what the Dos Equis “The Most Interesting Man in the World” would have in his room.
Herewith the six recognized and approved Man Cave themes: 1. Tiki 2. Automotive/Hot Rod 3. Classic Tattoo 4. Cowboy, horse tack, saddles etc… 5. Any industrial artifacts. 6. Piles of Golf or tennis or other sports items. Like a medicine ball.
It is important to note: Do not ever get anything relating to polo. You are not fooling anyone. You are not a polo player. Ralph Lauren has this area locked up. You will surely look with a dufus with polo stuff around your Man Cave.
One beer sign either neon or backlit.
Industrial stuff like old signs warning of dangerous occupational and safety hazards.
Hot Rod memorabilia, photos of a Plum Crazy ’71 Dodge Challenger.
Golf or Tiki stuff. Picture the golf starters shed or Trader Vic’s as appropriate guides for how your room should look.
One dead animal stuffed on wall or flat out carpet style on floor.
One gun rack.
A motorcycle or some motorcycle front end parts, a helmet. Also some old surplus military stuff like compasses or old ammo boxes.
One big leather couch preferably ripped and repaired with duct tape.
An aquarium. Does not have to actually have fish in it. A miniature diver guy in a little diver bell suit and some other aquarium stuff in the tank is good. A friend of ours had a nine iron in his tank for years. Empty of water. Which is actually better as you get the idea without any maintenance.
Heavy cigar ashtrays preferably with advertising from a foreign country like Barcelona or a cigar bar in Paris. We are worldly dudes. Think James Bond.
The only cleaning products would be Mr. Clean, that orange stuff mechanics use to clean grease off hands and a leaf blower to clean up the place occasionally (ie: Bill Murray in Caddyshack.) A few pine tree shaped car air fresheners are always welcome.
A well stocked beer fridge with at least one 6 pack of Average Joe beer like Schaeffer’s or Pabst Blue Ribbon. The only opener in the room should be screwed to the wall next to the fridge.
Calendars with pictures must be decades old. Should have a picture like from a Mexican restaurant with an Aztec guy rescuing a Mayan princess. A tasteful but provocative western gal, dude ranch photo is ok. As is a cheesy Tahitian babe under a palm tree. But, this is really important. A beautiful contemporary pin up girl poster may not work in this atmosphere. It screams out horn-dog and ruins the dudes hang out pavilion. We don’t know why but it just does. Somehow takes the atmosphere in a different direction than the respite, the don’t worry about the women for a little while, vibe.
A better choice is calendar with a day time photo of a drive up motel in Ohio.
Surfboard stuff is probably ok also, as are flippers and those big nets on the wall with the glass floater balls the Japanese used to use.
Lighting is critical and must imbue the surroundings with the most comforting soft light as possible. It should offer pleasing entertainment like animated beer signs, signs advertising tools or sports equipment. Pay special attention to ambient light. Anything overhead or glaring should be eliminated.
Some fine art is ok. We are sophisticates. However, the choices are tricky. Like the dogs playing poker or old car race posters. But do not put John Wayne posters up, it’s a shame, but nobody relates to him anymore. Steve McQueen, James Bond or Lee Marvin are ok.
The major exception to all these above rule is anything given to you for Father’s Day. These items, no matter how horrid they may be, will be given a place of honor in the Man Cave.
Bad ties hung from gun racks, stupid fishing novelty items, as long as given by a son or daughter are very cool and should be cherished as such.
The house may be burning down but we will grab the large piece of fungus with “I Love You Dad” carved into it by your son from a camping trip.
Anyone varying from these approved themes or trying to “design the look” will be immediately deemed a phony and their Man Cave be labelled as bogus.