Healthy, Green Design: The Man Cave

Reader Contribution by Stephanie Nickolson
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Stephanie Nickolson has designed residential, commercial and eco-conscious environments for more than 24 years. Her firm, Stephanie Nickolson Design, promotes the use of sustainable, non-toxic, recyclable and environmentally-friendly products and services. The firm works largely with clients who have allergies, chemical sensitivies or who have children with special needs.  

This blog post is dedicated to my friend Michael. He recently proposed the suggestion to his wife that they should purchase a “couch,” new and fully equipped with cup holders. He became frustrated when she wasn’t as excited about the idea as he was. I told him that his first mistake was referring to this concept as a “couch” and that he should have suggested to her the idea of investing in a new “home theater” instead. So, thus begins my man cave blog.

I must be on a Flintstones roll here, but when I think of a “man cave,” this is the man I envision. Photo By Abraham Lincoln’s Photography/Courtesy Flickr.

To define: The coined term “man cave” refers to a man’s space dedicated to some room in the house, garage, attic, addition or basement. Generally, he equips the space with the most advanced technology that he can possibly afford. It may be as simple as having one chair and a television to watch. A bar, game table, home theater, stereo system or other electronics can be enjoyed here. It’s a gathering place for men or “buddies” to recline or convene at. The room shown below represents a very “minimalist” type of space; the basic “necessities” for a man cave. Next, a space embellished with a bit more, and lastly, the fully-loaded, all-the-bells-and-whistles man cave. Some furnishings in the room may include a refrigerator, bar, game tables such as foosball, billiards or poker.

For the minimalist man, here is a very simplistic room set up for a no-frills kind of a man. Photo By pghmtb/Courtesy Flickr.

Since “goth” is somewhat “in” in some circles, I’ll suggest it in this application. Black can be manly and dramatic, but not to be overdone as it may close the space in and appear too cave-like. This room should be a comfortable sanctuary in which to dwell. Black lighting fixtures can be incorporated as light sconces for the wall or as a hanging fixture. Ebony-stained wood floors are a great look with an area rug thrown over it to absorb some of the sound. Black leather, when used as upholstery, is practical, cleanable and durable for pieces such as reclining theater seats (adorned with cup holders), sofas and ottomans. (A tufted black leather ottoman is a fantastic look.)

Extremely acoustical is cork flooring. If the man (or wife) would like to keep sound to a minimum, or at least from spreading to other rooms in the house, cork flooring is a great choice. The other benefits of cork are that it’s sealed and has a built-in antimicrobial in the product. One company that offers cork flooring is USFloors

A palette of beiges, grays and browns can have a masculine flair to it, and if more color is desired, fluorescent colors pair wonderfully with these neutrals. I’d throw a hot orange, fuchsia or red into the mix to create excitement. I’d use the bolder tones for artwork, accent pillows or accessories. Mythic paint company has some great hues that I’d recommend for the walls as far as neutral colors go, such as Elephant Gray 131-4, Heather Haze 130-4, Aquarium Water 147-4 or Cinnamon Toast 178-3. View the entire collection colored by David Bromstad.

An alternative to painting the walls in the space is to install wallcoverings.

Phillip Jeffries brand new product is this awesome, authentic, natural slate wallcovering. Photo Courtesy Phillip Jeffries.

Hot off the press, literally, this product just became available February 14. It’s the wallcovering company Phillip-Jeffries Ltd.‘s Geology collection. Comprised of natural, authentic, honed slate, this product is sold in a flexible panel made of a thin veneer and backed with a fiberglass resin backing. The panels are available in two sizes: 12-by-24 inches and 24-by48 inches. I think this look has so much depth, and, when used along with other natural materials, creates an earthy, edgy ambiance.

LED TVs are hot right now. The benefits include energy efficiency and the fact that they take up less depth for wall mounting. LED lamps also give the full range of color for television viewing versus the LCD lamps that use fluorescent tubes. 

Here’s a man cave that’s a bit more accessorized. Photo By PascalSijen/Photo Courtesy Flickr.

Here’s an embellished man cave with all the bells and whistles. Photo By A&A Design Build Remodeling, Inc./Photo Courtesy Flickr.