How to Decorate a Man Room

by A Manly Guest Contributor on August 19, 2011 · 80 comments

in Diversions, Travel & Leisure

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Jayson Franklin and Morgan Gagne of Manly Vintage.

There’s a good chance the first interior decorator was a guy, scratching pictures of a glorious hunt on the wall of his cave, trying to show off for his friends.  This was the first man cave, if you will. Unfortunately, the modern man tends to be as afraid of “decorating” as the stag is of the spear.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  A well-planned, coordinated, organized, and stylish space will bring more pleasure and comfort than a space with random furniture and objects all shoved together.  No one with any sense would advocate that a man should necessarily quit his full-time job and compare color swatches while watching every episode of Design Star, let alone have a decorating opinion for every inch of his abode.  However, he should at the very least care about his home and especially the things he keeps therein. You don’t have to be a feng shui devotee to understand that your surroundings can have a profound effect on your mood and well-being.

But don’t think the entire castle has to be developed at once.  In interior design, like any creative project,  it’s good to start small.  Baby steps.  Manly baby steps.

And of course the best place to start is the room that bears our name.

What Is the “Man Room?”

Mark Twain's billiards room.

The man room or “man cave” can be defined as any place a man sets aside to pursue his interests, whether with friends, family, or by himself. It can be an office, a study, the basement, or a shed out back. For the purposes of this post, the man room is not a shop or workspace, but rather a place for a man to relax and enjoy himself.

There are lots of activities men do that would warrant an entire room and the label “man cave,” but we’re staying traditional. If you clicked this article for advice on the most stylish gaming chair to park in front of your Xbox and 50 inch television, sorry man, no help here. However, if you love big solid desks, bookshelves full of books, and comfortable seating where you can read, write, and share beers with your close friends, then these tips are for you. Regardless of whether your tastes lean towards the mid-century coolness of Don Draper or you favor the rustic backwoods ethos of Ernest Hemingway, we have an approach to manly decorating that will steer you in the right direction and away from that same NASCAR poster you’ve had on your wall since college. 

Note: #1: While the tips in this article are specifically focused on decorating a man room, they can also be applied to things like sprucing up a bachelor’s pad.

Note #2:  Some dislike the terms “man room” or “man cave”–we know, we know. But it’s the easiest way to refer to it, and men strive for efficient communication. So try not to let your blood pressure rise too much–retire to your man room to smoke a pipe if needs be.

What Does “Manly” Decorating Entail?

The word decorating is completely scary for some men.  If it makes you feel better, swap out decorating for “planning,” or even better, “designing.”  Designing the room that you want is very personal, but there are some tried and true considerations.  We at Manly Vintage have three simple design rules to keep in mind when purchasing pieces and organizing a space:

  1. Quality – Buy things crafted with care.  If you’re not sure if a piece is built to last, buy vintage furniture.  While we may be a little biased towards antique and vintage furniture, current manufacturer standards tend to be below the standards of our grandfather’s generation.  Furniture that used to be manufactured in the United States is now made in foreign countries using cheap labor and then shipped overseas to Big Box stores. Look to see how the wood is joined together.  Dovetailing and Mortise and Tenon are two quality ways for wood to be joined together.  A lot of furniture is made with particle board or other cheap materials that very quickly break apart, whereas solid hardwood furniture will last for generations with proper care.  Furthermore, if real hardwood gets scratched or dented, then you can refinish it.  If you’re buying something like a dresser, for example, open up the drawers and see if the inside is made of solid wood, particle board, or wood with a veneer top.  Look underneath the furniture, the backside.  Is it finished on all sides?  How heavy is the piece?  Taking the quality into consideration will ensure that the furniture you purchase will last a lifetime or more.
  1. Comfortable - All good furniture has been designed with both form and function in mind.  A great chair is more than just a fabric bag stuffed with as much cotton as possible and a built-in cup holder.  The art of making furniture has been been evolving and improving for thousands of years, and those who make it well know what they’re doing.  Take the classic Eames Lounge Chair made by Herman Miller, for example.  As far as lounge chairs are concerned, many consider it to be one of the most comfortable chairs of all time.  When you sit in it, it literally conforms to your body.  It was made by an artist who studied the human form and designed it for that purpose.  If you’re on a budget and in a time crunch, you may consider buying a chair at Target or Wal-Mart,  but a big stuffed beanbag isn’t going to give you the true comfort that a thoughtfully designed and crafted piece will.
  1. Personal- This is the perfect space for that lifelong collection that your wife just doesn’t understand.  Whether it’s Star Wars action figures, album covers, or oil cans, it’s important to surround yourself with things that are meaningful to you.  If you have a collection, display it.  If you don’t have a collection, you should consider starting one.  Having a room where you can organize your objects, display them, and keep them safe is one of the best reasons why every man should have a room “just for him.”

What Do I Put in My Man Room?

Mid-Century Desk

Of course every man needs a solid desk.  This is where you’ll sit to read Jack Kerouac, browse the interwebs, write a letter to your congressman, or refine your collection of federal duck stamps.  We lean towards a mid-century modern executive desk in teak or walnut, but the more traditional styled oak or metal desk gets the job done and are practically indestructible.

Keywords to use in your searches: Jens Risom, Steelcase, Paul McCobb


The chesterfield sofa is a classic English couch that is traditionally made with brown leather, quilted buttons, and a low base. It’s also as comfortable as hell. It looks good in a variety of decorating styles.  Because of its timeless look, it can mix well with a classic study room or blend well with modern furnishings.  Good design matches with good design, period.

Keywords to use in your searches: Flexsteel, Pearsall, Goetz


Shelving serves the primary function of keeping your precious stuff off of the ground.  In your man room, your shelving can store not only your beloved beer mug collection, but also your personal library.  Every man needs a library.  But some men are slightly intimidated by the thought of amassing one. They might think, “I haven’t read enough books to have anything close to a library.”  A library is not just a collection of books that you’ve read.  A library is a collection of books that you have access to, are able to cite, reference, and read in the future.  As Edward Tufte said about his personal library, “The important books in my library are the unread books.”  Shelving should be solid, substantial, and allow for a growing collection.  Small shelves that attach to the wall are good for books and items that are reached for on frequent occasions, but more substantial shelving is required for not only a current collection, but also room to grow.

Keywords to use in your searches: Cado System, Globe Wernicke, Steelcase

A Coffee Table

A stylish coffee table is just as important as the couch that sits across from it.  The coffee table will end up being the centerpiece during those late night bull sessions, a place to rest your feet after a hard day, or just somewhere to display a couple of really good books.  You could go mid-century with the coffee table or you could go a little more masculine and re-purpose, taking a piece designed for something else and refashioning it for something new.  A classic example of re-purposing would be refinishing an industrial push cart from a factory and turning it into an industrial coffee table.  This has become such a popular DIY that stores like Restoration Hardware have been selling refurbished carts for over a thousand dollars.  However, antique railroad carts can be found on ebay, craigslist, estate auctions, or estate sales.  There are many other examples, such as coffee tables made out of old storage boxes, steamer trunks, slabs of old wood, or stacked ephemera. Your man room needs at least one DIY project and the coffee table is the perfect place to start.

Keywords to use in your searches:  industrial, lane acclaim, steel coffee table, danish

Lounge Chair

The lounge chair is a man room necessity.  A man needs somewhere to sit after a hard day: a place where he can reflect on the day’s victories and losses and just relax.  An old La-Z-Boy will not suffice.  Do not ensconce yourself in anything less than leather.  Yes, a leather lounge chair will end up being expensive, but in the long run it will be worth it.  A good leather chair will last a lifetime.  Leather is one of the most versatile of upholsteries.  It is water and spill resistant, pretty much child-proof, and eternally stylish.  There are two chairs we highly recommended for the discerning gentleman looking to build the ultimate man room.  Both of these chairs were designed in the early 1900’s.

The first is The Barcelona Chair by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.  This chair, which my wife dubs “the bachelor chair,” was designed for the World Exposition in 1929, and has been an icon of masculine design ever since.  Made of leather and stainless steel, the Barcelona has a timeless look that will fit well with any decor.

Another great chair, suitable for any man room is the LC2 chair designed by French designer LeCourbusier.  This chair, created in 1928 has a modern and yet reserved look that may appeal to many men who find the Barcelona lines too jarring.  The best part about both of these chairs is that their design is no longer protected by copyright so there are enough knock-offs made that they can generally fit within any budget.

Key Words to use in your searches:  Bertoia, Baughman, Eames, Womb Chair

Wall Decor

Theodore Roosevelt's trophy room.

Wall decor should be a healthy balance between your own personal tastes and straight up traditional man trophies. Think Teddy Roosevelt’s taxidermy collection, vintage beer advertising, clocks, paper ephemera (maps, historical charts, b/w photos), fine art, and a weapon or two. Most local newspapers sell large prints of photographs that once ran in the paper (going back many decades) and reprints of whole pages of the paper, and a great option for wall decorations is to get a print of an old historical picture of your town, or a reprint of the front page of the paper with a news story that means something to you.  On the flip side, like many men, we can’t think of anything we would rather have on our walls than the multitude of paintings and drawings done by our sons and daughters. The key is arrangement, and this is definitely one time where you might want to pull in some outside help. As in all things, practice makes perfect; so if your first try is a cluttered mess, who cares?  Pull it down and try again until you’re pleased with how things look.

Key Words to use in your searches: Taxidermy, vintage/antique maps, tin signs

In the end, designing the ultimate man room is about creating something that will work for you.  Figure out what pieces you want, and then be willing to wait to find them.  It definitely doesn’t mean walking into a furniture store and loading up the truck with the number of items that you need just because they were the first thing that you laid eyes on.  Choose quality over a quick purchase and don’t buy poorly made pieces that are just going to wind up in the dumpster in a few years.  Whatever your style, whatever your budget, do it with purpose and make it your own.


Manly Vintage is a Chicago based design collective with an affection for the classics, the American, and the cool. We specialize in machine age through mid century modern furniture and décor. High design, with working class attitude.  We promote the idea that style is not emasculating, and that good taste, and good design, make the gentleman’s life more enjoyable.

{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Robert Black August 19, 2011 at 2:10 am

My dorm room had an Eames chair I pick up for free on my landscaping route. My bed was up near the ceiling to accommodate a desk underneath and was hand built by my grandmother’s Colombian boyfriend out of unfinished cedar. You can imagine how the room smelled :) The sink was made of the same material and featured a stainless steel sink basin. I owe my collegiate success to the well crafted living space I had.

2 Rick August 19, 2011 at 5:31 am

My den is the one place in the house where I can put something down in the morning and know it will still be in the same place when I get home from work. It contains a comfortable chair with a stack of books on one side, and the iPad on the other. It’s a haven to regain sanity and enjoy solitude.

3 Adrien August 19, 2011 at 5:33 am

Though my “Man Room” is only 11 sq yd, I use the space the more I can (especially the vertical space to add bookshelves. It contains a desk, a bookshelf, a vinyl record player, a chair (though I’m looking for a nice club chair to add comfort to my reading) and my guitar. What makes it personal though is the pictures on the wall. I framed the best shots I made (though I am a very amateur photograph, taking only silver ones) and get them printed in black and white only (for the cohesiveness). SOme are big others small. It adds a dimension where “popular art” tangles with souvenirs of the moments and places shared. The only exception is a few portrayal I have of inspiring great men (Leonard Cohen, William Butler Yeats, Milton H. Erickson,…) hanging here and there. It is my room, dedicated to Mercury (who has its portrayal too), ancient god of the inner journey. However I have the far idea of building a shed one day on the lawn to gain more space and get a

4 Adrien August 19, 2011 at 5:34 am

true “writer refuge”. Sorry for the computer bug.

5 Rachel August 19, 2011 at 8:12 am

Thank you for writing this. My boyfriend and I have been struggling to find some common ground on what a “man cave” should look like. I think we will be able to agree with many of the points found in the article…or at least I can use it as back-up that a giant bean bag chair and 3 oddly placed televisions in one room just doesn’t work (I’ve been trying to convince him to get built-in cabinets to hide those things). :)

6 Allan Williams August 19, 2011 at 8:14 am

You showed an exploded Eames Chair without identifying it. It is absolutely the most comfortable chair in the world…if not the most expensive.

7 Timmeh August 19, 2011 at 9:11 am

Some people might object to having animal heads stuck on their walls, so google “cardboard safari” – a company that makes cardboard animal trophies.

8 Andrew August 19, 2011 at 9:12 am

That’s an impressive list with some really cool furniture. Start adding it up and it looks like the well-decorated “man room” could easily cost $5-10k… plus the time spent watching auction sites and furniture dealers, etc. (Not everyone lives in Chicago with easy access to vintage furniture collectives.) I realize, these are just some suggestions that all go together – which is a big help! And yes, good gear is expensive and worth paying for – if you really want that specific stuff.

Personally, I’d rather do something manly with that money, like provide for my (future) wife and kids, rather than chase Special Stuff for me and my buddies to enjoy. Does anyone have tips for putting together a “cool manly room” without breaking the bank?

9 Guy August 19, 2011 at 10:12 am

The room is put together over the years with items found/bought/discovered/shot/built etc.. that hold a personal meaning to you. Like Rome the room is not built in a day and each piece usually has a great story behind it.

10 Jason August 19, 2011 at 10:20 am

The concept of personalizing your man room hits home with me. As a runner, my guest room has morphed into a place to store pictures of races, running books, medals I’ve won, and other items related to the culture of distance running. It’s a powerful demonstration of who you are as a person and shouldn’t be overlooked.

11 Robert Cosgrave August 19, 2011 at 11:01 am

Surely, ‘decorate’ and ‘man room’ are mutually exclusive? A man room is a room you do things, a private space of action and contemplation – a workshop, a studio, a study, a gym or whatever. It contents and fittings should be exclusively functional. If it’s function is to impress others, it’s not a private space.

12 Will Buthod August 19, 2011 at 11:04 am

Don’t forget the comfortable Morris-style chair, especially the ones made in the “Craftsman” style. The Gustav Stickley version is both art and refuge. [Tulsans - the donut shop a block south of 31st Street on Yale Avenue has a Stickley knock-off w/ leather upholstery in the dining area, if you want to try reading the morning paper in one.]

Better yet, while most of the new ones retail for $500 and up (WAY up, a genuine vintage Stickley goes for in excess of $4k), they’re a challenging project for the intermediate/advanced woodworker, and plans can be purchased for around $20.

13 Dave, New York August 19, 2011 at 11:13 am

Andrew and Guy – good points. My basement office has a recycled futon, recycled table – really interesting piece from 1930s-40s, an office chair taken from my office when I replaced it with a new one and all of the art my wife says cannot be hung in the living room or bedroom. I have been working on it for five years – it did not come together overnight.

14 Eli August 19, 2011 at 11:23 am

I agree whole heartedly that a man’s room should reflect that personality of the man. This cannot be accomplished overnight and will contain the items of interest collected over the years. The items that have been accumulated in mine include photos of my grandfather during WWII on leave with fellow servicemen, a vintage desk fan that I found in the attic of my first home, hand carved wooden decoy by my great grandfather, drawings from my sons. All most of the items are where free and of deep meaning to me. On a side note to Mr. Cosgrave, “Don’t call me Shirley.” I thoroughly find the site entertaining and often thought provoking. Great job and keep up the phenomenal work!

15 Buddy August 19, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Another great article from a site I love to read. I was in full agreement until I got to the chairs. The Barcelona and LC2 chairs may be nice to look at, but they are hell to sit in for any length of time. Items in a man’s room should have both great form (looks) and function. The 2 Bauhaus examples listed here, like everything else from that design school, look great, but suck to use. Maybe you like reading Keroauc at your desk, but I prefer my Eames Lounge Chair. Admittedly, the Eames is still under copyright and license, so it’s very expensive. For a less costly option, what about an Ekornes Stressless? It has good looking modern, European inspired design and very suitable for reading, watching the game, and, most importantly, napping. Even the ultra-budget Ikea Poang is way more comfortable than either the Barcelona or LC2.

16 Terese August 19, 2011 at 12:27 pm

My husband talks only about a big flat TV hanging off the wall when deciding on what to buy for his new room.

17 kv August 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

rachel: a woman should not take part in assisting/helping/offering input, etc… with a man’s journey in creating his own man cave. it defeats the very purpose. let it be what he makes it to be. it may start out with a beanbag chair and three oddly placed tv’s, but when time works it’s magic it will develop into something greater. it’s his room, not yours.

18 Megan August 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

First of all, love the website and this article. My husband just finished putting together his mancave (we call it manland) I definately agree that men should take care and actually put some time, effort and design into their spaces; because really, you should spend your time in a place that expresses who you are, and I don’t think anyone wants to liken themselves to plastic milk crates and an old bean bag chair.

19 James August 19, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I agree with KV. As the topic reads hot to decorate a mans room, not a family room. its what ever interests that particular man. Whether it be auto racing, whiskeys, cigars, big band swing music or who knows what.

20 Brian August 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Having finally moved into my own place after moving back from finishing grad school and getting a job, I’m thoroughly looking forward to my own man cave. Right now, it’s two book shelves and a solid pine table I got at Ikea, but I already know where the desk is coming from: my dad is passing on my (maternal) grandfather’s desk, that my grandmother got used from her teaching master in the late 1950′s. It’s solid oak, about 5′ long and 3′ deep, and weighs about a million pounds.

21 Bart N August 19, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Great article but one question: When did hell become comfortable?

22 Mike M. August 19, 2011 at 8:45 pm

You’ve all forgotten the rifle rack. Nothing like a good Pennsylvania long rifle on the wall.

23 JeffC August 19, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Timmeh posted on August 19, 2011 at 9:11 am
Some people might object to having animal heads stuck on their walls, so google “cardboard safari” – a company that makes cardboard animal trophies.

I could not call such a poseur my friend.

The importance of a sanctuary to a man’s psychological and spiritual health cannot be over-stressed.

24 steve August 20, 2011 at 12:30 am

One thing I have that REALLY makes a room feel manly is one or two old wind-up clocks in it. Just sitting here listening to the two of them tick-tocking away is just awesome . And when the dog is lying around the atmosphere becomes ultra- uber manly !
Key words to use : Ingrahm / antique mantle clock /

25 Michael August 20, 2011 at 1:54 am

Two words “thrift store.”
Here in Denver I was able to find two matching older recliners for 20 bucks each. Great find. I found what I guess you could all an end table to store cigar stuff in and on for 25 bucks. I took an old German made table (without the legs of course) and stacked it on a old style chest to make an improvised but stylish TV stand. Now I’m just fishing stuff out of boxes (military plaques and other stuff from my travels) and putting them on the walls.

I’m also getting a custom cigar ashtray made by a local potter for about 50 bucks. As you can tell I haven’t spent alot and I think it’s coming together well. Of course it’s always a work in progress, so that’s the other (fun) caveat. Also I call my man cave the “Mountain Lions Lair.”

26 Practical Parsimony August 20, 2011 at 2:22 am

The first picture in this article shows a red room. Without trying to unduly criticize, do you really want a wall color that drives blood pressure up? Red raises blood pressure, makes people want to fight, eat, and have sex….but not all at once. Okay, you can think of something to help with the last activity, but with men having a problem with high blood pressure, try a color other than red. How many fast food places and chain restaurants are decorated with red predominant in their color scheme? Red is a sign of danger, to stop, and to become aware of what is happening. Choose beige or blue, please.

27 Richard August 20, 2011 at 7:11 am

Thanks for the great article. I just purchased a house a few months ago and it has a room downstairs that I have earmarked for my “Manlandia” I have been struggling to come up with a layout and design for the room, but this article has helped me quite a bit. My man cave will include, but not be limited to a large desk and super-comfortable chair, bookcases, some sort of sound system for listening to all types of music, loads of things hanging on the walls, my grandmother’s antique floor lamp and a chess table and matching chairs. I have been looking for a do-it-yourself project for this room and I have decided to make a chess board and pieces. I have also started frequenting antique shops, garage sales and thrift stores to look for other interesting things. Looking forward to a place where I can relax, think and get my man on!

28 Tom August 20, 2011 at 9:33 am

Is there a link to a larger version of the Eames chair diagram? I have a second or third hand chair and ottoman in my living room and would love the diagram as wall art.

29 Arnold M. August 20, 2011 at 11:20 am

I prefer a Lazy boy man size recliner, also own a Flexsteel sofa, and use modern office furniture (desk, chair) and industrial style metal shelving. As a contemporary style minimalist, I stick with neutral colors (carpet, walls, etc). Also have several pieces of modern style metal wall art like the ones you see in Pier one, TJMaxx. Since I spend lots of time on the computer, I have little use for books, unlike the rooms full of books in the photos above. Just a hand full of reference books on the shelves for an uncluttered look.

30 Hal August 20, 2011 at 11:23 am

Yes, the Barcelona chair is crap for actually sitting. I highly recommend reading Galen Cranz’s book “The Chair” before spending a lot of money on seating for the man cave. Some of her “office” ideas are a bit extreme and in many cases impractical, but there is a lot of important information in there.

Otherwise, great article.

31 James August 20, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I appreciate the tips, but when I put my “man room” together, I made sure I got the best deals possible and did not pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars (like you surely will if you follow these tips). My space is basically decorated as an English pub/gameroom/sports bar and is packed with decor. The only items that were remotely expensive were the bar and suffleboard table. Other than that, I scoured ebay and craigslist for deals. I was able to get an awesome, vintage, oak coffee table for $5 and a 55-gallon aquarium and stand for under $90. In addition, I found amazing deals on ebay for things such as wooden signs, bar lights, a dart board, etc., and didn’t have to break the bank.

Other than that, I had family members who gladly contributed to the space which cost me nothing. For example, my brother-in-law gave me a pub table and a mini-fridge and my friend won a large bar mirror and gave it to me. You’ll find that if family/friends hang out in your “man room” they will want to contribute. My advice would be to keep your eyes peeled for good deals and don’t chase after things, because that’s when you over-spend. Just today I was at an antique store and bought a vintage globe and stand in great condition for cheap that will look great in the corner of my bar. Sure beats spending $1,000-plus for a chesterfield sofa.

32 Calvin August 21, 2011 at 1:05 am

Another option, for those who are looking to save money, is to go the DIY route and build some of the stuff you are after. I was really wanting a good, big desk to do my studying and writing (non-computer writing), but I also wanted the desk to be a standing desk and something that I could get to my house with my small car. After looking at a number of non-standing desks on Kijiji, I concluded that I would have to build my own. I found a door on clearance at Rona for $2 (it had a bit of a hole on the one side), turned that into a desktop and built the framing with 2×4′s. It actually looks pretty decent (I am considering staining it at some point in the future) and cost me just over $30 to build. Sure, not a vintage oak desk or anything, but it looks good and I take pride in knowing that I crafted that desk myself. Lumber can be relatively inexpensive, so if you are willing to put in the time and effort to build something yourself then you can save a lot of money verses buying the finished (hopefully quality) product which may not be quite what you were looking for.

33 Al August 21, 2011 at 3:12 am

We completed a garage conversion to a rumpus room a while back but every winter we withdraw back into the main house. I have started turning it into what is now known to al as MAN LAND (sorry my peronality to big for a room or cave I need a whole LAND lol). Has all the stuff I want to date and in the future the other stuff will retreat into the house and I will have my space. What makes it so awesome is not just the fact it reflects me but it is also attached to the other garage bay we did not convert and I can work on my motorbike and still stick my head in through the door to see the footy without the need to wash hands etc.
Up til the onset of man land I felt i had no input into how the house looked but now I appriciate a good room and framed comicbook covers and old bike pics go well on a wall.

34 Alex Daniels August 21, 2011 at 8:17 am

FYI – Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier, was a Swiss-born French architect and designer. He is on the Swiss 10 Franc note so, while he did become a French citizen in 1930, the Swiss claim him as Swiss.

35 Mr Rui August 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I’m a showroom intern / university drop out. It’s very usefull in my life though, having learned about design. I´ll never forget Corbu and the room I’m linking. &itemCount=78&sysParentName=&sysParentId=64

36 Danny August 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I don’t agree one bit with the ridiculously over-priced, thinly-padded Eames lounge chair. $5449.99? For that? Are you kidding me? Or the Barcelona? It doesn’t even have arms to rest your own on after a long day! For $1100-$1700.00, you could have a top-line, multi-position, deeply padded, rich leather-upholstered recliner that would blow those metrosexual (at BEST, but more like Andy Warhol to me) status symbols out of the water for comfort, looks, and just plain old everyday mancave luxurious versatility.

Manly my foot.

37 Ethan C. August 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm

I concur with the several posters who have already criticized the chair recommendations. No thank you to that Bauhaus junk. If I want to sit on something like that, I’ll go to the lobby of a bank.

What I’d like is a nice, dark wing-backed chair. Perfect for reading (or television), good for the posture, and the wings help block out distractions in the peripheral vision.

Just make sure to have a side table nearby for your beverages. My wife and I have found two delightful side tables with lamps built right into them, for an extremely pleasant combination.

Speaking of lamps, I’m surprised there wasn’t a section on lighting. I think this is extremely important for a proper man room. While the specifics of lighting will depend a great deal on personal taste, I recommend a lot of different light sources and a high degree of adjustability, so that one can have the proper light conditions for any activity. Dim for drinks in the evening after a hard days’ work, bright for hobbies that involve fiddling around with small objects, diffuse for playing games, focused for reading, etc.

38 Hector August 21, 2011 at 6:39 pm

2 words you missed: mini bar

39 Joey August 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I have a question about the books. How should a person organize them? Obviously, by subject matter would be a logical choice, but should something like the Dewey Decimal System used in larger libraries? I like seeing books in size order, but sometimes the topic is sacrificed in order to do so, so should one take precedence over the other to a certain point? Should there be a mix of horizontal and vertical sections? Should there be little trinkets and photo frames in front of the books or should they be pulled to the front so all the spines are lined up? If the length of the shelf isn’t all used, what are some good book ends? I have a big geode I found acting as one right now. Thoughts?

40 Paul August 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I love this thread. Any chance any of you would be willing to share photos of your man cave? Thanks in advance.

41 Chris M. August 22, 2011 at 2:35 am

I just got back from several months of military training as well as a few extras for my job. I couldn’t wait to sit down on MY couch and enjoy MY space. But I realized that I hadn’t made it MINE just quite yet. This article is extremely timely, as has been every article on this site. I need to buy a couple things for myself, including a desk, drawers, shelves, and the like. This article has pointed me in the right direction and given me inspiration. Thank you for this, as I know my significant other will actually appreciate a man-space in the house. She knows I’ve needed a place for myself.

42 Native Son August 22, 2011 at 10:02 am

Nice article. Unfortunately, not to my taste, although that might be owing to the impressions given by the writer’s love for “modern design” circa 1930 for easy chairs.

43 Butcher August 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Perhaps the most important part about the couch was forgotten. It must be long enough for you to be able to take a long nap on. Leather chairs are great but it can be quite the sweat maker. I have a decent looking blanket I throw on mine most of the time, the best part is it can easily be washed or replaced and is always there when you catch a quick snooze on the aforementioned couch. Also, it’s nice to have good things but nothing too delicate that you can’t be comfortable with, I want a coffee table I can put my feet on, a table that I’m not afraid to rest a drink on, you get the drill.

44 Scott August 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm

“The lounge chair is a man room necessity.” No, it’s not. The only things that are necessities are what you WANT to be necessities.

45 Josh August 22, 2011 at 7:47 pm

It’s about time we got a post like this. A guy has got to take responsibility for his surroundings and his comfort, showing a little class and caring in the process. I will reiterate the point made by some previously that going DIY is a great way to save money, add a strong personal touch/story to your man cave and and ensuring you get exactly what you want. I don’t necessarily agree that you have to spend a ton of money (nor do I believe that the author is necessarily suggesting that) but definitely get what you want–think hard, evaluate your options and don’t settle.

46 Thomas August 23, 2011 at 9:01 am

Saying that an old La-Z-Boy will not suffice is a tad bit snobbish. I thought back to the show, Frasier. Martin insisted upon putting his old, beat-up recliner in Frasier’s living room even though Frasier it. This is essentially what a man room is all about: putting things in there that YOU find comfortable, not what others say are stylish.

47 Jason August 23, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Great article. Everything spot on for a well engineered ManCave. I have a “Doerner by Selig” lounge chair like the one in the diagram. In good condition with very very little wear. Email me for details and pics if you’re interested. Good job by the guys at Manly Vintage!!! Cheers!

48 Jason August 23, 2011 at 11:05 pm

The email for the Selig lounge chair is
Forgot to add that every ManCave deserves a great, unique name. I dub mine MANitoba!

49 Tim S. August 23, 2011 at 11:37 pm

I have found that the best way to claim any space in my home is by making my own furniture. My living room has been completed onpiece at a time, as I have time to finish different pieces. Best of all, I have matching pieces at an affordable price. Although I have stained oak with a walnut finish, I highly recommend tung oil for a natural finish.

50 Alex Daniels August 24, 2011 at 9:29 am

Dear Ethan C. and Native Son – the modern design of the Eames and Le Corbusier chairs are not/not from the 1930′s – they are in fact from the 1950s and considered to be among the best, if not THE best, designs in the world, furthermore, the Bauhaus design, or “junk” as you call it, is limited only to the Barcelona Chair by Mies and, while not to everyone’s taste, is hardly “junk.” Rather it defines an important departure from the past, which until that point and then immediately after, was mainly dominated by bourgeios copies of copies thought to be stylish. You may not like or appreciate the style and comfort of these masterpieces, but please give them the respect they deserve else we would all be sitting in tacky, cheap, nock-off and uncomfortable, Lousi XV replicas.

51 bassopotamus August 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Animal heads are lame unless you shot it yourself. I’m hoping this year will be the year I bag something worthy of putting up in my home office.

52 David Arkham August 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I agree with you there on the animal heads. And where are the games/hobbies? I want a shuffleboard to play when I have the guys over for a beer! I honestly just found this site they look so nice, I want one so bad. They definitely belong in a man cave!

53 Jason August 24, 2011 at 6:59 pm

For the geeks among us, I give you this:

I saw these guys at GenCon a few years ago. First, the furniture is INCREDIBLY well made. I could tell because the tables were heavier than my wife’s dresser. That’s a good start. Second, the salesmen were, what we called, “excessively dapper.” For a gaming convention these guys were dressed to the nines. Third, these tables were like a poker table for kings, if that king was Data from the Goonies. Play board games? Plenty of room. Miniatures battles? No problem. There’s even one that’s regulation 4×6 size. Got a pen and paper RPG session? The pull-out shelves are a nice touch. My man cave will be a gamer room. My gamer room will have one of these tables.

54 James August 24, 2011 at 7:42 pm


I have a 12-foot shuffleboard table in my bar/gameroom. I got a really good one on sale a few years ago at Branch Brook. It may be my favorite thing in the entire room and, if you have the room and are sure you can make the turns to get it in your man room (they come in one piece), I highly recommend one.

55 Roadpizza August 24, 2011 at 9:46 pm

The Eames and Barcelona chairs are not timeless classics or design icons. They are overdone cliches. Just my opinion.

56 David August 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Man room, man cave…. call it what you will but I think a pool table is a must. Here are some man cave examples:

57 Jeff August 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm

here is some vintage 1960′s furniture for sale for your man room:

58 John W August 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm

This article provides one with a number of ideas. We’re moving into a new place and I have a room all to myself. This may sound crazy but I am contemplating suspending a King Mayan hammock from the ceiling rafters.

59 Aaron August 27, 2011 at 4:44 am

On the contrary, a hammock sounds like a great idea!

60 Jack August 27, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Unless you’re a huge fan of billiards, a pool table is a big waste of space. You have to put it in the middle of the room with plenty of space around it. Things I recommend above a pool table: poker table, shuffleboard table, pinball machine, air hockey table, bubble hockey table, ping pong table, skeeball machine.

61 Mantuitive August 28, 2011 at 1:26 am

@Jack A poker table is exactly what I was thinking too. To me I guess the idea of a man cave is specifically social room, a place where men can get together and do something entertaining to pass the time while imbibing their favorite beverage or smoking a cigar. Nothing passes the time better than poker imho.

62 Kevin August 30, 2011 at 1:22 am

I only hope that someday I can have as many books as the people in these photos…the sheer volume of literature on that shelving inspires me.

63 Critter August 30, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Books, vintage rifles, swords, reloading equipment and duty leather make my man room so powerful that women who enter it ovulate.

64 Vern September 1, 2011 at 1:09 am

I agree with David on that one! These are all great suggestions but a great unique idea for a man cave would be to find shuffleboard tables to entertain the boys! Who hasn’t enjoyed a game of shuffleboard in the bars/pubs. How cool would it be to have one in the house!?

65 Shankar September 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I’ve been a long time reader and admirer of this site and I need some help. I’m currently in grad school and need a really good desk to study upon. I’m tired of using my kitchen table. Anyone have a good place to find a decent desk online for a reasonable cost (graduate student = no money)

Thank you

66 Gabriel Rosas September 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm

No Animal Heads Are Useless Unless You Chased That Animal And Killed It Fair And Square Not With A Gun!

67 a September 8, 2011 at 5:55 am

all I need is a desk,chair and a huge book shelf,I don’t need expensive furniture or any kind of decoration,coz I believe in simplicity.

68 Kenny September 13, 2011 at 10:57 am

I didn’t see it in the comments so far, so I’m just gonna toss this out there.
The truely awesome man-room is whichever room Chuck Norris happens to be it at the moment.

69 Michael January 20, 2013 at 8:54 pm

FYI- the Eames Lounge Chair Exploded Print can be found at the following link- for $7 bucks. Thought it would look great framed on wall. BTW- if you purchase the limited edition black/black Eames Lounge Chair (released in Japan) you get a free framed print. But its a little bit more- say around 11 grand.

70 Ed March 21, 2013 at 11:24 am

I would add that whether living with a woman or not, most great rooms are a mix of manly style with feminine touches. The opposite rarely works. Think of a great room, lots of wood and leather furniture, and add in the throw pillows, drapes, and a few flowers. Little else is needed and its already off to a great start. But start with a fussy room with delicate furniture and floral wallpaper and there aren’t enough manly touches to make the room grand. It might be ‘nice’, or ‘pretty’, but it will always be some variation of Grandma’s room.

71 Dale August 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm

My grandfather (b1892) had this one nailed to perfection. His office was just off the main entry– it was sacrosanct. We grandchildren had full run of the house… except there.

The last two homes I build had offices that would do Grandpa proud– manly oak desk and cadenzas. Photos of manly places, manly books about manly deeds and adventurers, and best of all his extremely manly WWI portrait peering down.

72 Daniel August 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Damn it Ed, your last remark made me giggle and real men don’t giggle!

73 Danny August 19, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Great article. I will be doing the same thing when I move into a place of my own later in the year. But I do have to agree, while some of the pieces are quite nice, in particular, the Eames chair, the costs for the pieces is much too expensive for me. I see myself perusing antique shops in person or online over the next few months/years. And while it will be a mans house, I will be calling on my female family members and females friends to give that requisite small female touch here and there.

74 E.T. August 19, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Um… wow. Got anything for a man cave on a short budget?

75 Tim August 19, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Something that I want in my cave is a fireplace. A nice, leather recliner (nothing like the above, not my style thanks), dog in front of the crackling fire and a good book in my hands with just a single light next to me to read by.

76 AJ January 12, 2014 at 11:30 pm

You can keep the modern stuff. I like the oversized leather chair look and the classic ‘dogs playing poker’ rug on the wall.

77 Jonathan January 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm

I agree AJ, nothing is as manly as the local gentleman’s club (the old meaning, not a strip joint).
Leather, atmosphere, and working-man’s luxury.

Currently in an apartment with no extra rooms for a man-room, but my wife is surprisingly willing to work with me on decor. Just got myself a solid maple wing-back with green silk and cashmere upholstery embroidered in a forest pattern with a matching ottoman. My mom had them for years, and had gotten them from a friend’s grandmother. Classic 80-year old sturdiness, comfort, and elegance with a manly color and feel. After a month or two, it smells like Vitalis, old Spice, and peipe tobacco, making it a truly manly piece.

78 Steve Thompson February 10, 2014 at 11:07 am

I agree that things in the man space must have a deep meaning to the individual. My dad’s man room, a study at the far end of the second floor of the house with studio windows, was full (cluttered?) with his well stocked bookshelves, and an incredible assortment of items/weapons/pictures/art from all of th trips he had taken, and from his time in the far east in WWII. That coupled with the astounding collection of duck decoys and falconry equipment (he was an avid falconer) created a quite, dignified man space that profoundly affected me and my tastes, although i did not realize it at the time.

79 Steve Thompson February 10, 2014 at 11:09 am

The libarary at the Army and Navy Club in Washington DC (where I am a member) is an incredible man-space. Not only crowded with rare books and military memorabilia, a centerpiece is an ornately carved table from the Phillippine insurrection, which still bears filled bullet holes from when US troops overturned the table to use it as a barricade as they defended themselves from a guerilla assault.

80 Steve Thompson February 10, 2014 at 1:46 pm

If you ever are in the Petersburg, Virginia area, the Center Hill Mansion Museum has a men’s smoking room (decorated in true Federal Period style). Of note is a dark wood cabinet, a gaming table, and an antique Arabian chair. Also the artwork is quite impressive.

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