The concept of the ‘man cave’ should be a familiar one by now. It has been explored in countless sitcoms and Hollywood movies, and it has started to become a common sight in homes across America. While the idea that boys should have their own space is certainly nothing new, we’re no longer talking about drab offices or reading rooms.
The modern man cave is big, bold, and ambitious. It represents freedom from the pressures of work and social life. It’s a place where your boss, the kids, and the lady of the house come second. And, it can look pretty cool if you put some creativity and imagination into its design. In fact, even a relatively small budget can be used to transform a tired space into the man cave of your dreams.
This guide to 15 of the most affordable man cave ideas will help you create something truly special, even on a tight budget.
The Obligatory Man Cave Sign
The most obvious place to start is with a man cave sign. You could buy a fancy one from a store, but it would look just like everybody else’s. If you’re up for getting a little crafty, gather some basic supplies together; scrap wood, nails, and paint. You’ll also need a circular saw or you’ll have to cut and shape the wood by hand. Then, carve yourself some rustic looking letters. They can spell out anything that you want – MAN CAVE, BOY’S RETREAT, or NO WOMEN ALLOWED. You might want to add your name too, just to make it clear who rules the roost in the man cave.
The effect that you’re going for is an artfully haphazard, industrial kind of vibe. So, create the letters out of separate pieces of wood, instead of carving the whole letter out of one piece. Arrange then on a backing board, so that they fit together, but have that intentionally disjointed look. If you use different types of wood, with different textures, this will be emphasized.
The wood will need to be painted and finished once all of the letters have been arranged and fixed to the backing board. Again, you can mix and match with colors for a DIY aesthetic. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even add some metal components to your sign; the slightly bendy aluminum that you get on metal door signs is great for this.
Foosball Coat Hanger
If your beloved foosball table breaks down and you can’t bear to say goodbye to it forever, carefully remove the handles. Take one (or a couple) and use a bracket to attack a wall fastener to either end of the pole. Be careful not to attach the bracket too close to the handle and make sure that all of the little guys are standing straight and facing in the right direction before you start drilling.
It should take you just a couple of minutes to securely fasten the pole to the wall. And, voila; you have a unique and rather awesome coat hanger. If secured properly, the players should easily take the weight of a coat or jacket. You can also use your new hanger to store heats, umbrellas, and anything else you want to keep safe, clean, and off the floor.
DIY Tire Poof
This is another one of those ‘hands on’ man cave ideas, so make sure that you’re comfortable with DIY and power tools before you start. You need an old tire, a circular saw, a lot of rope, and some strong glue. You’ll also need some pretty long, sturdy nails. It’s going to be a cheap, but time consuming, project; be patient and it’ll look great when you’re finished.
Take your old tire and measure the outside circumference (so, the widest point of the tire, rather than the inside circle). You need to cut a piece of MDF or plywood that will fit neatly over the entire surface of the tire. It needs to completely cover one end. Once it has been cut and sanded, drill it securely into the rubber
You should now have a rudimentary seat, or poof. It needs refining though, so take your rope and wind it neatly around the entire circumference of the tire. This will create a ‘striped’ effect, with each row of rope sitting neatly on top of the next. For the MDF/plywood top, start with a tight circle in the middle and wind outwards.
The rope should be stuck in place with a strong adhesive. Once you’re finished winding, more adhesive needs to be added over the top of the finished poof, so that all ends and pieces are rigidly fixed into place. The more careful that you are with this project, the better the seat will look, so take your time. Leave the glue to dry for at least a day before you kick back and enjoy a beer on your manly piece of furniture.
Wine Barrel Bed
As far as man cave ideas go, this one is pretty epic. It does depend on having the right connections though, so start researching right away if you’re keen to grab one for your own masculine retreat. The proper, industrial wine making barrels are pretty hefty. They’re plenty wide enough for all but the lankiest of guys to crawl inside. And, wouldn’t they make an amazing nap pod?
The hardest part will be getting your hands on one, but it’s worth doing some haggling with a local brewery or winery if possible. You might have to throw some dollars at them, but depending on how smooth your negotiating skills are, there’s always a chance that you’ll get one for nothing. Then, you’ve got to figure out how to get it home.
You’ll need to thoroughly clean (a hose will work) your barrel and leave it to dry for some time before that pungent alcoholic odour disappears. Once it’s ready though, there’s not much maintenance involved. The hole is already formed and the space inside should be big enough for a heap of comfy duvets and pillows. For future projects, you could try incorporating a reading light, a shelf, or even a little staircase for elevated access
The Monster Beanbag
If you can’t get your hands on an out of this world aged oak barrel bed, there are still some pretty cool (but more modest) ideas that you can try. For instance, you can put together an unbelievably comfy GIANT beanbag, with a little dedication and ingenuity. This project is a fiddly one, so give yourself enough time to complete it. If you rush, you’ll end up creating nothing more than a giant mess.
You can create a massive beanbag bed or chair – much more massive than can be bought in shops – by hand stitching your own cover. If you have a lovely lady at home, you could do some sweet talking and convince her to help you. As most guys are fairly terrible at sewing, this is probably a good idea. The cover needs to be stitched together tightly, so that it can be completely filled and stay strong enough to support the weight of at least one person.
The clever way to do it is to use the measurements for the new cover to mathematically calculate how many beanbag beans you’ll need. Alternatively, you can just buy a LOT of refill beans on the internet and fill until you’re satisfied. The final product will be epic and, hopefully, ten times more comfortable than a regular beanbag. If you make it big enough to sleep on, you’ve got yourself a great, big nap time cushion for after the game.
Instant Booze Dispensers
Sure, the man cave is a great place to spend time alone, but it’s also the perfect environment for catching up with friends and kicking back with a beer. To speed up the time it takes you to reach the point of maximum relaxation, get yourself a couple of regular water dispensers. They don’t have to be anything special; just the kind that you see in offices all the time.
You can probably get your water dispensers from a wholesaler for a cheap price. Make sure that you do some online browsing and find a great deal. After they arrive or you pick them up from the retailer, give them a thorough clean. Then, leave to dry and pick your favorite mixer and spirit combination. For a super smooth drink, a classic like Jack Daniels and Coke is recommended.
The next part couldn’t be simpler. You just have to fill your dispensers to the top with your favorite drink. The next time that the boys come round, invite them to check out your creation. They should work in exactly the same way as they would if they were filled with water, but they will need to be cleaned on a regular basis. You can try all kinds of drinks; vodka and coke, rum and ginger beer, gin and tonic, and more.
An Indoor Grilling Station
Sometimes you want to share a beer and a flawlessly grilled steak with friends, but you’re hampered by the weather. Or, you could head outside, but it would mean missing a big soccer, football, or basketball game. Fortunately, there is a neat solution. You can invest in an affordable indoor grill and cook up some treats while tucked away in the man cave.
These machines are very affordable. You can pick up a good portable grill for less than $30 these days. You do have a few things to think about before buying one though. The first is how safe the environment is for cooking. There should be a smoke alarm in the room if you’re planning to introduce a potentially hazardous source of heat.
Also, if there’s no window, you’ll need an extractor fan of some kind, because things could get a little smoky. Such safety measures are not to be scoffed at, so take care when setting up your man cave. If an idea sounds cool, but you know it’s not suitable for the space that you have, it’s best to adapt it or move on to something different.
Wall Mounted Bottle Openers
You can pick up a wall mounted bottle opener for just a few dollars. It will make all the difference when it comes to party time though, because there’s nothing worse than fumbling for something, anything that can give you access to your beer. Avoid frantic hunts for the bottle opener by affixing yours to a spot next to the fridge. That way, neither you nor your boys will ever have to travel far for an ice cold refreshment.
Installing a wall mounted opener is so easy that even guys with no DIY experience should be able to do it in five or ten minutes. The product will come with all of the screws need to fix it to the wall. All that you need is a screwdriver or drill and the right spot. Take the opener, line it up carefully (so that it’s not wonky) and insert the screws. Make sure that they’re tight or the opener might wobble when you put pressure on it.
Baseball Bat Nightstand
For sports fans, there’s an easy way to make a cool nightstand or beer table. If you have an old baseball bat lying around, sand down the thinner end, so that it can be stood upright without falling over. Get out the circular saw and cut yourself two circles out of MDF or plywood. One of these pieces will be used for the actual table top itself, so make it as big or as small as you want. The other piece will help the table to stand, so it can be a little smaller.
Affix the thin (sanded) end of the baseball bat to the supporting piece with a strong adhesive. If the end of the bat has a thick enough ridge around the handle, you could even nail it to the board as well, but this might prove too tricky for most. The fatter head of the bat then needs to be affixed to the underside of the table. When finished, you will have a unique little table that is ready to be painted and varnished.
Chalkboard Game Score Walls
If you’re tired of dominating the boys during table football games but have no way to show off your scores, pick up some chalkboard paint. It’s affordable, easy to use, and creates a surface that you can write on without damaging the walls. You can jot down game scores, shopping lists for the wife, memos about work, or anything else that you might need help remembering later.
You can paint one wall or three; it’s up to you. Plus, if you have little ones, they’ll get a chance to scribble all they want and not incur the wrath of the parents. That is, if you decide to let them take a peek inside the man cave at all. It might be a strictly adult’s only environment, but if we’re being honest, even grownups like to break the rules sometimes.
Custom Beer Themed Coasters
It’s easier than you think to make your own beer coasters and they’re a great addition to a carefully designed man cave too. Plus, you’ll find a use for all of those empty six pack carriers lying around in the recycling pile. Take your cardboard carriers and measure out a coaster sized square (or circle) over the part of the design that you like the most.
Then, for each coaster, cut out the required shape in cardboard. Match the size and shape of the coaster in both a stronger, sturdier cardboard (you can get this from a craft shop) and in a piece of high quality felt. So, at this point, you should have three components for each coaster; a cardboard design, a cardboard support, and a felt back.
They need to be glued together with a strong craft glue. The best way to make sure that everything sticks is to leave the coasters sandwiched between something heavy for a while. Once they’re dry, coat the top surface (not the felt) with several layers of glue to create a waterproof finish. Finally, for added protection, you can spray each one with a high gloss lacquer. This will also make them look more attractive and professional.
Liquor Bottle Soap Dispenser
You’ll be amazed at how simple it is to create quirky and stylish accessories for a man cave with just a few dollars in your pocket. For instance, check out this awesome Captain Morgan soap dispenser. It’ll only cost you the price of the spring loaded dispensing mechanism in the top, because you know you’re going to be drinking the bourbon, vodka, rum, or gin needed to make it anyway.
You’ll need to drill or bore a hole in the top of the lid, so that there’s a big enough hole for the mechanism to fit through. It’s also best to search for one with a fairly long funnel, so that the soap doesn’t become inaccessible halfway down the length of the bottle. Once you’ve got your hole, simply fill the bottle with something sweet smelling and you’re ready to go.
DIY Dart Board Wall
For lots of men, a man cave just isn’t complete without a dart board. There’s always a chance that the woman of the house will show you who’s boss if you poke tiny holes in her walls. To protect your space from damage, even while you’ve got your head in the game, put together a really simple wall guard for your dart board. You can do this using nothing more than a large picture frame and a whole heap of wine corks.
Measure out a fairly large space around the spot where you want to hang your dart board. You can either mark it out with a big, empty picture frame, or make one for yourself if you want it to be pretty roomy. The next bit is the fun part, because you need to collect enough wine bottle corks to fill the space that you’ve mapped out. Get friends and family members to donate theirs too and you’ll ready in no time.
Carefully glue the corks tightly together, until you’ve filled all of the marked out wall space. Then, simply fix your dart board over the top. Voila; you’ve got the perfect surface for intense games. You don’t have to worry about stray darts ruining the wallpaper, because the corks will catch the ends and stop them from doing any damage.
Belt Loop Shelving
If you’re keen to add some more storage solutions to your man cave, but you don’t want to spend a lot on expensive cupboards and cabinets, there’s an interesting idea that you can try. You first have to dig around in your drawers to see if you have any old belts that you’re willing to sacrifice. There are extra points for distressed or worn leather belts that have that rugged, manly aesthetic to them.
Put your DIY head on and start making yourself some study shelves. They don’t have to be complicated; standard length planks of wood are fine. Once you’re happy with the dimensions, they need to be sanded and finished in a color that you really like. As you can’t really decorate the shelves after you’ve hung them (the belts get in the way), get it right before you proceed with the rest of the project.
The next part will be fiddly, because it takes a lot of adjusting to find a spot that sits right and stays form. However, if you exercise a little patience and take your time, it will work. Take your old belts and experiment with loop lengths until you find one that holds the shelf stable. There should be one loop (one belt) at either end and, if you do it right, only the highest point of each loop will need to be nailed to the wall.
Retro Canvas ‘Prints’
Your man cave could be filled with cool gadgets, but if it hasn’t got any artwork, it might look drab and uninspiring. It’s lucky then that these canvas ‘prints’ take minutes to put together. They cost peanuts too, because the little canvas squares are all that you need; you can pick them up from most home improvement stores and they’re very cheap.
Once you have a canvas or four, root around in the wardrobe for some old printed t-shirts. Make sure that you’re happy to turn them into artwork before you proceed; they might not be wearable once you’re finished. You need to be looking for t-shirts with an attractive, front facing logo that can be stretched over the canvas, like a printed picture.
If you use a stapler or a staple gun to fix the back of the shirt to the back of the canvas, you’ll be left with a personalized fabric artwork. It won’t take long before friends start asking you where you got them from too. You can either let slip with the secret or protect it, so that nobody else can have canvas prints as epic as yours.
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