When my son was about to turn 9, he decided that he needed a man cave because every man has one, right? He was jealous that I had not just one, but three man caves in the house. I have an office and a separate workout room in the basement in addition to the standard man cave in the garage (which is unheated and thus unusable except for six days each August).
In typical parent fashion, I told him to plan out his ultimate man cave and that if he planned it out, I’d see about putting it together. About three hours later, he came back with a list of items he needed. Not just a child’s scrawled list, mind you, but a proper list. He’d gone online… This was not a short list, but at least he’d been kind enough to include prices and where exactly I needed to go to get everything.
For creature comforts he’d included the standard man-cave items like a flat screen TV, a soda-stream, a bar fridge (to keep his homemade soda cool), a microwave (because he didn’t want to bother us if he wanted a hot-pocket, so thoughtful), a DVD player and something he could use to watch Netflix.
I pointed out that he might want to put some furniture on the list so as to have somewhere to put all of this high-tech gadgetry (when I was 9 I had a tiny, black and white TV that I needed to walk across the room to change the channel on by turning a dial and I thought that was about as technologically advanced as mankind would ever get). So, with furniture in mind, he went back to the drawing board and the results were pretty amazing.
His room isn’t exactly huge. We live in a 1500sq. ft. townhouse and the children’s bedrooms are 12’x10’. So, clever young man that he is, he thought up some space-saving ideas. He wanted a bunk bed so he could put a desk under it, he needed a comfy chair to sit in while watching TV or playing video games, shelving on which to display his sports trophies and about six million Skylanders (if they ever become collector’s items, he’ll be able to retire) and some kind of closet organization system because he understood that now that he was a man, keeping his clean clothes in piles inside the closet wasn’t very gentlemanly.
In order to maximize the reveal surprise, I packed him off to spend the weekend with his grandparents. Once we had him out the door my daughter and I headed out to Home Depot. On the list for Home Depot was shelving and closet organization materials. Now, I have enough testosterone in my system to turn my nose up at the pre-fabricated organizer kits, so I bought a whack of MDF boards, a few drawers and a box of screws in addition to some very nice floating shelving.
The next stop was IKEA. Inside every man is a six year old child who wants to buy every clever (if sometimes pointless) invention brought to us by the Swedes. I kept my inner child reigned in (on this trip) and went straight to the bunk beds. Having chosen a very nice burnished nickel finish bunk bed, I heaved it onto a cart and headed off to find a desk. We found a very Swedish looking, boxy, but sturdy desk done in a nice, deep black finish. Coincidentally, this was almost the same finish for the shelves I’d purchased, which worked out well. Off to the chairs area with my increasingly heavy cart. After picking out a bright blue minimalist looking desk chair we grabbed an equally bright blue canvas chair that looked optimal for relaxing while watching TV. To protect the carpet from being chewed up, we also picked up a plastic mat to put under the desk and chair. Now, because I’m a fan of the eclectic and wanted him to have a room no other kid did, I stole a design idea from IKEA. I went and got a sliding track curtain system and some charcoal coloured curtains. These I would hang along the perimeter of his bed so that he could pull the curtains shut and thus manage to sleep though the sun coming up each morning. As a final touch, I picked up a lamp (I love lamp) that would hang behind his head in bed and a slim shelf that I’d put up at bed level so he’s have a place to put his tablet or a book, since the 5 foot drop to the floor essentially nixed the idea of having a night table.
Back to Home Depot. I’d decided while looking at the IKEA furniture that the standard light fixture in his room (a typical new home half-ball light) just wasn’t “man” enough. No, I needed something you’d find on a frigate or a submarine. I settled on the type of light you normally find in a shower, a glass oval with heavy iron grill over it. That’s about as “man” as a light fixture can get, at least in my opinion.
Now, everything (barely) fit in my Dodge Journey and was successfully brought home and put in the garage. Snag. He already had a bedroom set, and it was still in his room, on the far end of the second floor. First, I posted some pictures online and offered the whole set at an extremely fair price, provided someone came and got it before the afternoon was out. It took less time to sell it than it did to drag it downstairs and out to the garage.
Now, sitting in the empty room with enough cash in my pocket to almost make up for the hole that IKEA had dug in it I began to envision the finished product. At this point I seriously just considered giving my son my bedroom, figuring he’d jump at the chance to have my room which is 24’x14’, has a full ensuite and a 50’ flat screen mounted to the wall. I’d just bought everything needed to build my childhood dream room. Oh well, about 30 years too late, he could have this one.
Construction began with about 18 hours until he returned from his grandparents’ place. First, the bed went up.
After the bed was up (and bolted to the wall), I added the bookshelf and lamp and assembled the chairs and desk.
With that done, the shelves went up on the wall so that he could proudly display his knickknacks and trophies.
Finally, the closet. Being my own design, it was brilliant. There is cubby space for sweaters and other bulky clothing items, drawers for shirts and pants and bins for socks and underwear. With space above for hanging more delicate clothing items, he should be able to efficiently organize his clothes (by which I mean I should be able to organize his clothes, he may have a man cave, but he’s still only 9 and left to his own devices, the clothes still sit in a laundry bin until he needs something).
In the end, he didn’t get his microwave (yet), but his grandparents bought him a TV, his mom gave him a Roku box for streaming Netflix, I put the Wii in his room and his aunt bought him the Soda-Stream (which is in the kitchen after I saw someone on YouTube blow one up by over-pressurizing it). Still, for a 9 year old boy, it’s the ultimate man cave and was done for under $1000 over the course of a weekend. Now I want one…