Making a Man Cave in Your Backyard

A lot of men would be happy with a chair and a guitar, but you can step it up a notch!
A lot of men would be happy with a chair and a guitar, but you can step it up a notch!
Polka Dot/Thinkstock

"Man cave" may be the new buzzword, but the concept of a man cave has been around for a long time -- with a different name. Back in the day, it was called a study, where the man of the house would retire with a stiff drink and a cigar to play poker, regale his mates with tales of big business and indulge in other manly flights of fancy of the period. Over the years, the study morphed into the slightly less refined man cave, where the leather Chesterfield was replaced with a pleather recliner, the card games were replaced with a foosball table and conversation replaced with a big screen TV.

By any name, though, the man cave has largely remained the same -- a place for the males of the house to kick back and have a little "me time." Today's man cave has become a place where the neon beer sign is acceptable d├ęcor and the no shirts, no shoes, no service rules don't apply. The only rule in the man cave is that there are no rules. Feet on the couch? No problem. Spilled drink on the floor? The dog will clean it up. It makes sense that during the months when the weather is nice, your man may want to move his cave into the great outdoors. Read on to find out some tips on transitioning to a suitable outdoor man cave.


Backyard Man Cave: Theme

Designing your backyard man cave with a theme in mind isn't mandatory, but it can really help tie things together and integrate it with your home. The hallmarks of a man cave are leisure and entertainment, so anything within this theme is sure to be a hit. Most indoor man caves typically include a large flat screen TV and maybe a gaming system of some kind. And depending on where you live, you could have these same manly luxuries outdoors as well. In places where rainfall isn't abundant, an outdoor TV is easy -- just mount it somewhere near the bar or cooking area and make sure it's covered. The same thing goes for the gaming system.

If you live in a part of the country that gets lots of summer thunderstorms, you can still go with an outdoor entertainment system; you'll just need to take more precautions. There are all kinds of outdoor TV cabinets and covers that will fit just about any theme you want to go with. You should also take the same precautions with your outdoor man cave games. Pool and ping pong tables aren't the best idea unless you have a fully covered area to work with. Think about incorporating some more outdoor-friendly games like horseshoes, volleyball or cornhole.


Backyard Man Cave: Function

Pick a table that can withstand mixed drinks and cigar ashes.
Pick a table that can withstand mixed drinks and cigar ashes.

One of the biggest design is choosing form over function. While the package makes the initial impression, it's the contents that are useful, and your backyard man cave needs to be designed with this in mind. Using your outdoor man cave to showcase collections may impress your friends for a minute, but will ultimately take up space that could be better used for fun and activities or recreation and leisure.

Because the whole family will be subject to your whims, you need to make sure your outdoor man cave functions in such a way that everyone will be able to use it. For instance, let's say you love playing some outdoor poker in the summertime. Maybe that poker table can be covered to serve as your dining table as well. The same goes for your outdoor, all-weather pool table. And if your sports car collection finds a place in your backyard, then be sure the doors stay unlocked for extra seating and pretend driving.


If you decide to really go for it and build an out-building to house your man cave, you may want to consider incorporating some outdoor storage in the mix. In fact, the storage shed you currently have can be re-configured to be a part-time man cave if you're willing to share your space with some lawn equipment.

Backyard Man Cave: Tips

Since the outdoor man cave is more likely to be used by the entire family than the indoor man cave, the outdoor version might need to be toned down a bit. In order to keep it man-centric without alienating the rest of the family, consider centering the action around a well-built outdoor kitchen versus a horseshoe bar. You could even build an outdoor bar to go alongside the grilling station as long as you don't go overboard with the sports bar theme. Add an outdoor pizza oven for authentic, wood-fired pies that are sure to be a summertime delight for the entire family.

The best way to make sure your backyard man cave functions for the whole family is to include them when it comes time to design it. Make sure that your kids have their own space by incorporating age-appropriate games and activities they can enjoy as well. And it's never a bad idea to get your wife in on the action. Not only will she likely lend some aesthetic appeal to the project, she'll surely appreciate having a role in creating her man's cave.


Related Articles


  • "Outdoor Man Cave." July 28, 2012.
  • "Outdoor Pool Tables." July 28, 2012.
  • "Waterproof Television Covers." July 28, 2012.