Creating the ultimate man cave on a budget

The answer to that question is simple: Everything. Well, almost everything. And some of the things it should have are based on your preferences, while others are partial to what you value in your man cave design. For example, do you want a room where you can hang out with the guys while throwing back a few beers? Or something more masculine where wives and girlfriends won’t feel awkward when invited inside?

But before we dig into the complete list, let’s talk about what a man cave is.

Creating the ultimate man cave on a budget, Zazzy Home

What Is A Man Cave?

The term ‘man cave’ has been around for decades, but it entered our vernacular in more recent years with the rise of TV shows that glorify bachelor pads and clubhouses where guys can kick back on their own. The gist of it is this: It’s a place where men retreat to get away from women and children so they can be themselves without judgment or interruption. Sounds raw, right? Well, it might be — but the underlying theme of the ‘man cave’ philosophy is creating your personal space by thinking, acting, and planning exactly how you want it to be… instead of having no say whatsoever in how things are done around you.

The man cave is quickly becoming as important as the master bedroom. It is a place for men to relax, watch some TV, play some games, and generally enjoy themselves.

What makes a man cave different from any other room in the house? The simple fact is that it’s designed for men to enjoy themselves. It has all their favorite things in it, so they don’t have to get up if they want another beer or if there’s a commercial break during the game. Also, let’s not forget the well-stocked bar and a fridge full of cold ones and snacks. It’s like walking into heaven for us guys!

A man cave is usually decorated with sports paraphernalia such as plaques, flags, and memorabilia; models and toys representing cars, especially American muscle cars, planes, and ships. A man cave might also have a pool table or video games to play; there may be leather furniture where they can sit back after a hard day at work, watch the big screen TV with their favorite sports or action movies playing in the background. It’s genuinely a place men can call their own!

Given the sheer size of the term, many things can be included as part of a man cave design plan. You want to ensure that everything about your man cave has a masculine feel and connects with your personality. The more personalized it is — both in style and substance — the higher it will rank on your ‘man cave’ wish list. And if you’re going to put all that effort into designing one room where you can hang out with friends, unwind after work or relax, don’t forget to build something unique (and valuable) for yourself in there too!

Here’s What Every Man Cave Needs:

The Basics

To maximize convenience in your man cave, think about the essentials you’ll need to complete it. That might be an entertainment center with a large TV, where all your game systems and movies can be stored, or if you’re more of a sports enthusiast, maybe you’ll want room for your favorite team’s jersey collection on the walls. Essentially, use all five of your senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) to make sure that everything within your man cave is functional and enhances how much use you get out of it because, after all, these are the things you will be spending most of your time at!

Creating the ultimate man cave on a budget, Zazzy Home

The Rules Of The Man Cave

Every club needs rules — even secret ones. So if you’re designing a man cave for yourself, whether it’s just to have a place to escape for a bit or if you’re planning on inviting friends over, set some ground rules so everyone knows what’s acceptable and what isn’t. For example, while watching sports is allowed in the man cave, picking your favorite team over another player’s team may not be. Likewise, if you want to include pinball machines, shuffleboard tables, pool tables, or arcade games in the man cave you design for yourself, make sure everyone who enters understands that these are off-limits. Remember, it’s your man cave, so make it yours!

Your Own Personalized Man Cave Checklist

So now that you know what your man cave needs to be complete start thinking about this simple checklist of items you’ll need to build the man cave of your dreams. If you have an idea in mind but aren’t sure where to start, this list is a great place to get started!

Man cave checklist:

The TV(s) you’ll need

Boxes for storage or shelving

Bar decorations and accessories (if you want)

Lighting with dimmer controls if needed

Pinball machines, shuffleboard tables, arcade games, and pool tables (if desired)

Make sure that everything within the space has a purpose and will enhance your experience when hanging out there. When designing a man cave, it’s all about thinking about what you value most as well as what you enjoy doing, especially now that we’ve given you the best method for making it happen!

Creating a man cave bar

We’ve done our fair share of research into setting up a man cave bar – we asked friends who had done it before, internet forums that are always looking for advice on these types of things, even consulted online databases that show diagrams, pictures, and suggested measurements for the perfect man cave bar. But, of course, we’ve also dreamt of it ever since we were kids playing Battleship, or maybe that was just me – but either way, you get the picture.

So what did our research conclude? Well, below are some key points to consider when planning your perfect man cave bar:

Of course, every guy is different, so no right or wrong answer depends on taste, size of apartment/house, or available budget. When putting together this blog post, though, we focused on affordable options that should fit most needs and, of course, the perfect blend between form and function.

1. Cooler Space

One common problem with man cave bars is that most guys already have a full-size fridge at home, so why not use it for beer/ food storage? The problem here is, of course, volume – unless you want to win the gold medal for “world’s smallest kitchen” or live in a mansion with its on-site brewery on the roof – your new man cave bar may need to offer some additional space for drinks and snacks (and maybe even actual meals). That’s where under-counter fridges like this one from Danby come in handy.

2. Prep Space

An adequately stocked man cave bar should have some space for snacks, pre-party appetizers, even cleaning, etc. If you’re adding a sink, then that’s, of course, great – but if not or just looking for an extra space to do some work on your drinks before serving them up – check out these awesome under counter cupboards like this kitchen island from Ikea which can be fitted with all kinds of storage options (shelving, drawers, etc.). Another option is to get something like this hand wash station which will give you a modern look plus easy access to glassware and other accessories while keeping everything organized and clean at the same time.

3. Ice cooler 

There are tons of coolers on the market these days – from the standard chest variety to fridge style, freestanding, or even built into cabinetry. Unfortunately, most don’t have a water outlet, which means that it’s either ice cold water with no fizz or room temperature without any bubbles. The IcePro cooler uses an innovative dual cooling system for optimal performance and can be fitted underneath your bartop with this custom under-counter unit.

Creating the ultimate man cave on a budget, Zazzy Home

4. Under counter lighting

Creating the right atmosphere is vital when throwing a party at home; having proper lighting will make it look more professional and keep everyone safe by not stumbling around in the dark looking for things(which inevitably leads to accidents). A great way to incorporate this into your mancave bar is to add a few under-counter lights in strategic places. While this might require a little bit of work cutting a hole in your bartop, the results will be well worth it.

5. Under-sink storage

Having somewhere to store all those glassware and accessories is always a good thing when setting up your man cave bar – but if your bartop doesn’t have enough room for too many cupboards, then consider adding one or two under sink units. These are often found at local kitchen companies that refurbish old cupboard doors into fresh new ones with different styles and material options. Another option, of course, is DIY; if you’re comfortable with power tools, then there are lots of resources online detailing how to build custom storage units; you can even incorporate space for your ice bucket or other party supplies. And if not, then it might be time to ask the better half (or even hire a professional) since the result will undoubtedly be worth it.

6. Ice buckets

Keeping your drinks chilly is critical when throwing a party either at home in your man cave bar – so having/renting enough ice buckets & trays should be an essential part of every party planning checklist, especially when you have lots of people over who all want different drinks served up fresh and cold. If you don’t have room for extra fridges, there are several options here – from the standard red plastic kind to stainless steel, which is much easier to clean and can come with various lids for easy access.

7. Display shelves

Stocking your bar properly requires organization and style, so having somewhere to display those accessories is a must. One option is to use the walls as part of your overall decor – something like this, which combines a bit of art with some practical storage options, works very well in a man cave or other gathering place for men (or women who still think they’re men). You can even incorporate built-in cupboards to hold glasses, bottles, etc.; another great option is combining some open shelving units from Ikea with items from vintage store sales for that unique look – you’ll be surprised at what you can find if you just put on your thinking cap, get on your bike or jump onto the subway and head out for a bit of adventure.


8. Vintage bar accessories

Speaking of vintage, there are lots of great new-old-stock items available these days at vintage stores which are both stylish and practical – like retro looking wall clocks with hidden cupboards inside (like this beauty) or pull-down menus that you unfold to give customers their order like they used to do in old school diners.

Check out our top picks of what to put in your man cave.


Claire is a blogger, writer, and designer with a passion for making the most out of any space. She's worked in interior design and maintenance for over a decade, and has learned how to make the most of even the smallest room. Claire shares her expertise, where she offers tips and tricks for creating beautiful, functional spaces on any budget. When she's not blogging or designing, Claire enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

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