Man Cave or She Shed: A Space of One’s Own


If you’re male and don’t yet have one, you want one: a man cave. Elevated in form and function from the old-fashioned snooze-worthy den, a man cave is an all-out expression of a masculine territory grab, and woe betides the woman who tries to put her stamp on it. In fact, according to psychologist Sam Gosling of the University of Texas, having your own space is psychologically healthy, perhaps especially for guys.

“Space is very important,” Gosling told Houzz editor Mitchell Parker, as a “powerful mechanism for evoking our emotions.” That affects emotional well-being.

Since most homes are decorated by women, and guys wisely defer, the “man of the house” is usually conditioned to live in a feminine influenced space and will go along. Hence, lots of men feel the need for making their own mark with a man cave, whether in the basement, garage or loft.

Themes for Him

A vinyl weight bench, big-screen TV, dorm syle mini-fridge and shelf of dusty trophies in the basement does not make for a legitimate man cave. Think broader and bigger, based specifically around typically masculine interests.

Picture a theme that resonates with you?

  • Wild West saloon or British pub, diner or arcade, billiards parlor
  • Indy 500 or NASCAR with a part of the room for your slot-car track
  • Hunting or fishing theme with mounts, antler chandelier, paneling
  • Sports, trophy case, memorabilia
  • Home theater with horror or sci-fi movie posters
  • Hero characters, memorabilia, collectible books
  • Total geek gamification with virtual reality technology

When the Gang’s All Here

Compared with its female counterpart, which tends to be a quiet space, a man cave is meant to be shared, where nobody’s “shushed” and guys can get rowdy. You’ll need to equip it for entertaining.


Consider outfitting your space with these appliances and toys:

  • Refrigerator, wine cooler or Kegerator
  • Pool table, foosball, darts, pinball, ping-pong, putting green
  • Giant TV with surround sound (size matters), theater seating
  • Video games or slot cars

Getting in Gear

The benefits of building your “no girls allowed” space in a garage include bigger toys: ATVs, motorcycles (and an extra engine or two for parts), racing bikes, tools mounted on the wall.

A half bath or one with a shower is helpful if you’ll be lifting more than 12-packs in your home gym, or tinkering with engines in your shop. While you’re configuring extra plumbing, what about a sauna?

Okay boys, so what’s your pleasure? If you need inspiration, take a spin online at Houzz, HGTV or Pinterest for more inspiration. You can even find a Little Rascals’ “He-Man Woman Haters Club” sign, should you desire one!

Her Time – Her Space

Because most of the home is typically her province, the female equivalent of a private space is often a quiet retreat or sacred space, not a place to party with pals.

Consider the “she shed,” which quite literally gets her out of the house into the backyard. Bigger than a gazebo, smaller than a guesthouse (though that would make a great hideout), a she shed can be a greenhouse or cottage-style shed (with windows of course), or a grown-up dollhouse.



You may desire a potting table for plants or an art studio; with a couch for lazy afternoon naps. They can also be craft spaces for pottery or maybe you’re into natural fibers and knitting. House Beautiful once featured a crystal chandelier for a she shed that included tea lights for lighting the space.

Practically speaking, in Northern New England, a separate space away from the house may not make the most sense, unless you have an old farmhouse with an undercover ell all the way. If your she shed isn’t insulated and electrified, it will only be a seasonal retreat.

Welcome the comeback of the Victorian parlor or sitting room. Today’s home design is big on “open concept,” but older homes were broken up into smaller spaces according to function. The parlor is where you received guests and held formal events, and a sitting room was where women gathered to read or converse; it often functioned as a sewing room.

Many of today’s homes have cozy rooms or nooks without doors that can be easily transformed into an “estrogen room,” as one musician friend dubbed hers. It contains her piano, CD player, a loveseat, books including her devotional reading, a family photo wall, and is decorated around a tea and florals theme—delightfully girly.

Fitted with French or pocket doors for privacy, a parlor can be an island of serenity within the home, where you can read, dream, craft, do yoga, play music, meditate, whatever your heart desires.

Dreaming of a special place in your home to call your own? Stop dreaming and start planning. The design/build team at 3W design, inc. can make that space a reality – for him and for her!

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