Do you need your own space? Somewhere you can hang out and just be yourself, away from the home and the family? If a garden shed is too basic or too cold for you, here’s a genius idea: why don’t you convert your garage into a man cave? Not such a silly idea, there’s even scientific evidence to suggest that man caves have therapeutic benefits.
Chances are that, as the man in the house, the garage is probably already part of your territory, so the decision of turning it into a ‘man den’ shouldn’t require any authorisation from your darling OH. What’s more, the actual process of converting the garage doesn’t have to be difficult, and unless you have two left hands it can be a lot of fun.
Here’s how to carry out Project Man Cave in 6 steps.
Clearing and cleaning
Let’s assume that your garage is the same as most people’s – full of stuff and junk that’s accumulated over the years. Bicycles, DIY supplies, gardening tools, cleaning stuff, an extra fridge or freezer, gym equipment, kids’ toys or old furniture… if you’re going to convert your garage into a man sanctuary, you need a blank canvas to work from.
The first step is a good old decluttering session. Systematically go through the contents of your garage and make like a minimalist. For each item, ask yourself: Do you really need it? Can you sell it? If not, give it to charity, put it in the recycling or throw it out. Then move the remaining items to another storage area (loft, basement, garden shed, understairs cupboard etc) until the garage is completely clear.
Finally, give the entire space a thorough clean to remove all dust, dirt and cobwebs.
Insulation and heating
Turning your garage into a comfy chillout space will require some basic indoor comforts. Let’s start with the floor – is it concrete? If so, you need to find a solution that’s a bit more appealing than cold stone. The simplest solution is to cover the floor with one or several large rugs to take the chill off. Depending on whether you’re happy with a rough and ready finish, or whether you prefer the plush and polished look, it’s up to you to invest in nice wooden floor boards, with effective insulation underneath.
Talking of insulation, and depending if the garage is freestanding or integrated into your house, you may wish to add insulation not just to the floor, but to the walls and possibly even a wooden garage door too – all the better to kick back and watch football in cosy comfort!
If insulation will still leave the room too cold, you’ll need to think about additional heating. Perhaps there’s a radiator already in the garage, or it’s a small Saturday morning job for a friendly plumber to put one in? Maybe you have an old oil filled heater knocking around that will do the job, or some electric plug-in heaters to keep you toasty?
Painting and decorating
If you’re lusting after an outlet for self-expression, this is the part where you start getting creative. Make your mark on the soon-to-be garage-turned-man-cave and get the paints out! Whether you decide paint the whole thing in CBA Magnolia or inject some masculine personality with stronger colours, bold paint effects or amateur efforts at modern wall art installations, the important thing is to make the space your own.
Try to really engage with the transformation process and really make it your project. Painting an entire garage can be a lot of work but it’s well worth the investment when you think of all those hours of peace and quiet you’re going to have there.
Most garages have a light switch and a basic ceiling light fitted – but this won’t do at all for what you have in mind. Forget police-cell style strip lighting or cold fluorescent tubes. A man cave needs a bit of ambience and testosterone fuelled excitement that you’re unlikely to ever find (permission for) in the main house.
If you like the industrial look, take your design cues from the Top Gear studio or Dragon’s Den and go for metal light fittings, modern spotlights or cool exposed Edison bulbs. If you’re going for a comfy TV lounge with a boys’ twist, think traditional floor lamps or multifunctional Mother & Child floor/reading lamps.
If you’re not too fussed about the design, an eclectic mix of whatever lamps or light fitting are to hand will be fine as long as the functionality is there. If you’re looking forward to hosting Poker Nights with the lads, or for long hours of uninterrupted reading, effective task lighting is essential.
Security and protection
Once complete, your new man cave will hold all your treasured possessions, as well as the TV, games consoles and other gadgets. Valuable items are sure to attract opportunist burglars, so you need to make sure your garage security is up to scratch.
Consult a garage door expert to see if the door lock can be upgraded to the safest model, or even be PIN code operated. If there is a back door in the garage, or a connecting door to the main house, make sure it is lockable and put a deadbolt on it for extra protection.
For the ultimate in security, include your garage in your burglar alarm or home security system and don’t forget to turn it on when you’re not using the space.
Furniture and furnishings
Personalising your new man cave with the right furnishings and fittings is where the fun really starts. First off, you’ll need somewhere to sit: maybe an old recliner or a comfy leather couch or two so that your mates can come and hang out too?You could use old car seats to construct a macho sofa, you know, like they do on Top Gear, and how about a quirky coffee table made from an old tyre?
The next most important thing is a home made bar, complete with bar stools and, of course, fully stocked with all your favourites. Tuck it away in the corner of the garage or construct it pride of place right in the middle of the room. Convenience rules in your den. No running to the family kitchen for another cold one, a fridge is surely the one thing no man cave can do without!
Finally, feel free to decorate your chillout space to your heart’s content. You don’t have to seek permission from the self-appointed chief interior designer of the family (aka her indoors); in your man cave you rule supreme. Football memorabilia? Movie posters? Old vinyl? A pool table or old-fashioned games machine? The old garage is now your private space to do whatever you like to help you decompress and chill. Cheers to that.