Make a Small Man Cave on a Budget (5 Simple Steps)

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I wanted to do something special for my husband. After almost a year of being basically at home, things were starting to feel a little… cramped.

As the only guy in a house full of gals, there weren’t a lot of options for him to grab a few minutes to himself.

Then I had an idea… our finished basement is still fairly unfinished (if that makes sense). Meaning, the construction is done, we just haven’t done much with it aside from plopping a couch in front of the TV.

The back half was really just an empty space so I thought, why not make it into a small man cave? Even if you don’t have a ton of space, you can totally make a tiny man cave happen. And for far less money than you think!

In this post, I’m going to share how to make a man cave on a budget. I’ll give you tips on where to start, ideas on what to include, and show you the before and after of our small man cave.

1. Find a small spot to dedicate to making your man cave

Choose a space that has at least a little bit of privacy and isn’t a pass-through from one spot to the next. The space doesn’t have to be large at all, but bonus points if there’s the possibility of expanding into an adjacent space down the line.

In our case, I selected the back corner of our finished basement. Right now, it’s just a collection of random cast-offs and is slightly separate from the main media room so it was ripe to add some purpose.

No basement? No problem. Could you steal part of an office or guest room? Do you have a randomly large landing? If you live in a moderate climate and have a garage, you could use part of that. You can even assign one wall of your living room. When you need something small and budget-friendly, think outside the traditional full four-walled room.

2. Decide on a theme

Think about what hobbies, interests, and passions fire your guy up. I think the biggest mistake people make when coming up with man cave ideas is immediately defaulting to the sports bar knock-off. Sure, if Tony C’s is his love language, by all means — recreate a sports bar. But what if your husband/boyfriend/son/dad is a gamer? Or a whiskey connoisseur? Or a literary buff?

Go with what he loves and you can’t go wrong.

You don’t need to be aggressively theme-y, but is a man cave any fun without at least a little bit of a theme? Nope, not really.

In our case, we went with music. Specifically, guitars. Matt is a fabulous player and has roughly 8 billion guitars. And they’ve historically been stacked in closets, leaning against walls, basically been given no love at all.

So this was the perfect jumping-off point.

3. Choose a few small decor items to reinforce the man cave theme

Since we’re going small and budget-friendly, I want you to choose just a few elements to showcase your theme. For the whiskey guy, how about a couple of decanters, a masculine bar cart, and a few special rocks glasses? For the book lover, how about a low bookcase filled with his favorite novels and a modern reading lamp?

Get ideas for decorating a bookcase.

In our case, we bought a set of forged iron and leather guitar hangers so Matt would have five guitars at hand in his small man cave, brought in one of his amps, and grabbed his favorite tab book.

4. Paint your man cave

This step is technically optional, but it’s an extra special touch to paint a budget man cave in a favorite color. It helps to further personalize the space for not very much money.

As you can see here, I painted Matt’s music corner in a rich shade of cabernet to play off the wood tones of his guitars. Plus, he looks really good in burgundy 🙂

5. Repurpose furniture you already have

To keep your small man cave on budget but still special, “borrow” a favorite chair from elsewhere in your house or thrift something cool. If you have a side table, bookcase, or any other furniture you can spare and would enhance the man cave decor, add that too!

The girls generously offered up the chairs from their BFF ladies club because they’re Matt’s favorite to play guitar in (no arms, wide seat). I was also able to rehome this industrial side table that had never really found the right home and now looks AMAZING in the music space. Finally, I snagged one of the marble and brass table lamps from our guest room to give him some light.

There you have it: how to make a small man cave on a budget. I hope you got some ideas to use and make one of your own!

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Brianna at Bloom in the Black
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