Mancave Transformation and Reveal

2 Materials
24 Months

The mancave is finally ready for it's reveal, but in the end it didn't quite go according to plan. To see what happened after it was finished , head on over to my site to look at the last picture (link at the end of this post).

My husband spent over 2 years renovating our basement in his spare time. Our basement is small so we split up the basement between three functions: a craft studio, laundry room and a mancave. I took the majority of the space for my studio; not very magnanimous of me given that he built every single bit of it himself – single handedly (with the exception of pouring a new basement floor which you can see on my site). Other than that, he did EVERY SINGLE BIT! He did the framing, electrical, insulation and installed spotlights:
He used this manual lift to put up the drywall. If you ever do drywall, don’t do it without a lift; it will save your back! And if you’re like us and take care of your equipment, you can purchase it new and then resell it for almost as much as you paid – not too shabby!
Hubs did all the mudding to a ‘level 5’ finish. I wanted to hire out the finish work to give him a break, but he’s such a perfectionist and knew that no one would complete it to his standard.
He was right: I can attest that once the walls were sanded and primed, they were as smooth as a baby’s bottom! Even the best contractor couldn’t have done better!

After the walls were done, he started on the floor. He used the mancave as a staging area to acclimate all the wood. We choose an engineered fumed oak hardwood; perfect for a basement because it can withstand some dampness and won’t warp. The blue dimpled membrane underneath protects the flooring from moisture and keeps it warm underfoot.

Before the install, hubs cut 1/2″ deep MDF wedges to put against the wall, providing an expansion gap. He applied some glue into the groove of each board and then tapped them into the tongue side of the boards with a mallet and special block tool.
Every few rows, the boards get taped together with blue tape to prevent shifting until it’s done. He then used whatever heavy objects we could find to weigh the hardwood down while it dried; even my antique iron collection got pulled into service (against the far wall).
The last step of construction was to add baseboard trim to cover the expansion gaps against the walls. Again he staged everything in the mancave, covering up the walls and floors with cardboard first to protect them from the dust. The baseboard was cut initially to length with the chop saw but then hubs used a coping saw to get tight joints in the corners.
The baseboard went in without to much trouble in every room except the mancave: on the long wall, there was a sizable gap between the floor and baseboard:
To fix the gap, he scribed along the bottom of the baseboard to transfer the curve of the floor, then sanded it off with a belt sander. It took a little extra time, but now you can’t tell there was ever a gap (you can see a picture on my blog).

Finishing Touches

When the basement was nearing completion, Hubs designed an Ikea media centre for the TV. The boxes sat in our hallway until he was ready to install. He assembled it in the mancave and installed it with the help of a laser level mounted on the opposite wall.

Below you can see the beam of light along the top that the laser level produces. He filled that space in with glass display cabinets, which you'll see in the reveal later. Along with a regular level, he was able get all the components level and plumb.
The Reveal

Although it's a small space, to fully appreciate the completed mancave, I'm providing before and after pictures of a few views (you can find all the before and afters on my site at the link under this post).

The electrical panel grew to hold an additional pony panel, plus the WiFi.
The electrical panel placement is the one thing that didn't get planned very well; it's off centre to the sofa.

Hubs built a frame around the panel to hold a still yet to be determined picture to hide the electrical (the one shown is temporary). Once he makes up his mind, we'll put up some additional pictures on the wall to balance the frame.
For storage, Hubs got an old filing cabinet from his brother and resprayed it. He chose a beautiful celedon green to match an ikea light fixture he bought for his desk area.

Lastly, for the other side of the couch, he built himself a pipe side table to hold the remote control holder I made him (which you can see on my site). Now he can chillax and have his remotes at his fingertips; no one deserves a little R&R more than him after all the work his put into our basement!
Here’s a view from the mancave looking at the entry to my craft studio.
Hubs built me double pocket doors to get my projects in and out more easily. We decorated the entry with a restored kerosene heater from his collection. The TV wall shares a wall with my craft room but the insulation in the wall helps keep each room quiet.
I've reached my 15 picture limit so head to Birdz of a Feather to have a better look at the TV Media Centre and to see more before and after reveals of the space. You'll also see what befell the mancave after it was completed.

Here's the last before and after:
Potlights are on dimmers for movie watching!
Over the next few months, I’ll be posting detailed how-to’s for installing all the finishing details you saw here today including how to achieve a level 5 drywall finish, installing baseboards and the best way to lay enginereed flooring in a basement.

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Suggested materials:

  • Drywall  (Building Centre)
  • TV Media Cabinets  (Ikea)

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Birdz of a Feather

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Gail
    on Oct 22, 2017

    Looks wonderful but the cost was not $0. Just the flooring was $$$$. Trying to redo a basement now. Can't decide on floors. How did yours do? Do you have any moisture issues?
    • Birdz of a Feather
      Birdz of a Feather
      on Oct 22, 2017

      Sorry I can't be more helpful on the cost; I had to put in something or it wouldn't let me post. I wish Hometalk would remove that feature because cost is dependent on the quality of materials you use; I don't want to dissuade anyone from doing a project just because of the $$'s (there's always a way to get the same look for a more economical price). Also, we did the entire basement and it wouldn't be practical to try to figure out how much the mancave cost was alone.

      For the floors, we put a dimpled membrane underneath and it thwarts any moisture issues. As a matter of fact we did have a leak and the membrane and type of floor we used saved us from having to replace it. We used an engineered hardwood; I don't recommend any other wood for basement applications if you want a 'real' wood floor. For the actual install, our floors are floating so we simply left a gap around all the walls using spacers and glued every joint. I'll have a post up eventually on Hometalk with more detail on how we did the floors.
  • TD
    on Oct 24, 2017

    what is the paint color on the walls?

    • Aimee
      on Nov 5, 2017

      Grey's are so in now. I did a light grey in my older sons' room with a castle grey accent wall. Love it!

Join the conversation

4 of 24 comments
  • Pat C
    Pat C
    on Oct 24, 2017

    Your husband certainly did a fantastic job!

    Do you rent him out, by any chance?

    • Birdz of a Feather
      Birdz of a Feather
      on Oct 25, 2017

      Thanks Pat! I actually think there is a company here called Rent-a-Husband but unfortunately he already has a full time job - lol :)

  • Flipturn
    on Nov 5, 2017

    'Love the black dial phone! Anybody else notice this?
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