How to Design the Ultimate Man Cave

Some of my most joyful work as a designer is working with men to create spaces of their own.  From my experience, men care a lot about their spaces and have their own unique approach to creating the room or area they want and rightfully deserve.

Typically, I find just by decorating a space that is special for the man of the house, the woman of the house usually ends up happier and more content with the other areas of the home.

Photo credit: Knotting Hill Interiors

Comfort is Key

The most requested element for a man’s space, also known as his “man cave,” is comfort. This is so important, I devoted a chapter on the topic entitled, “Southern Man Spaces” in my new book, Secrets of Southern Design.

Forget all the fuss, but do not skimp on quality. Men know and appreciate the difference. They want furniture that fits them personally and feels good day after day. It is fine if it looks good, too, but remember that comfort is key.

Men come in all shapes and sizes, and luckily, so does furniture. When selecting suitable furniture for a man, I need to know his height and measurements from the waist down, top of the thigh to his shoulder, and also the top of the thigh to the top of his head. I then compare these to the depths and heights of various seats and chairs I am considering.

I also ask a series of questions to help ensure the right furniture is selected. For example, I frequently ask how often this piece of furniture will be used. If the area calls for a sofa, I try to inquire the main purpose of it. Will the sofa be mainly for relaxation, or will business meetings be conducted there? Or is it both? I like to know if he prefers a firmer or softer seat. Does he like his head free or supported? What are his thoughts regarding lumbar cushions or having no pillow at all? All of these questions should be considered.

Next, when testing furniture, I like the man to sit in an array of furnishings that is properly sized. Combined with a marriage of answers to the aforementioned questions, along with the measurements of both the man and the furniture itself, this often ensures he is going to be comfortable in his new space.

Photo credit: Knotting Hill Interiors

Spatial Elements

Men love leather. It is practical, masculine and comfortable. I always recommend at least one piece of leather for a man cave. If he does not like the cold feel sometimes given off by leather, it can always be warmed-up with a chenille or textured fabric on the seat cushions. This also adds pleasant interest to the room.

Men love good lighting. Be sure to include an overhead light in the room, if possible. I prefer can spot lights, as they enable light to be strategically positioned for a well-lit space. For reading purposes, I like to include a floor or apothecary lamp next to the sofa or an arm chair. If the man cave is used as an office, a desk or decorative lamp placed directly above the work surface is helpful.

Ceiling fans are often requested by men to help with air circulation. I usually install the most un-obstructive ones I can find. This way it doesn’t have to function as a focal point, but rather a utilitarian purpose.

Many men request at least two TV’s to be installed in their man cave, so they can watch multiple sports games at one time. I say, concede, ladies, and give them what they want.

Keep in mind, there are some general guidelines about the viewing distance in conjunction with TV size for eye safety purposes. Conveniently, a formula has been developed to help determine the ideal viewing distance from seat to screen: Screen Diagonal (inches) / 0.84 = Recommended Viewing Distance (inches). For example, a 55-inch-diagonal screen has an ideal viewing distance of 65 inches, or 5.4 feet.

Photo credit: Knotting Hill Interiors

Personal Touches

Personalization is an important factor when designing a man cave. Hobbies, sports favorites, awards, diplomas, and other meaningful paraphernalia should all be highlighted. Men are proud peacocks, and this is a way for them to comfortably express themselves.

A way to lend warmth and a den-like quality, book shelves can be incorporated to hold personal book collections and special keepsakes gathered over the years.

When it comes to a man cave, men should not be shy about getting involved with the decorating process. From my design experiences, I have found that most men can be very artistic when it comes to decorating spaces of their own, especially when given the chance to do so.

Photo credit: Knotting Hill Interiors

About Kimberly Grigg:

Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based interior designer Kimberly Grigg is the owner of Knotting Hill Interiors and specializes in designing, renovating and redecorating homes in the South, and beyond. Her new design book is entitled, Secrets of Southern Design. To learn more, visit and

- by Matt Watts