The newest custom domains for guys don't resemble the room your dad annexed for his pool table.
The stately but not stuffy men’s den in Gavin Maloof’s home features an ornate pool table and a walk-in bar.
Let’s be honest: The term “man cave” doesn’t have a high-class ring. It’s either a garage turned greasy workshop or a beat-up Barcalounger, dim lights, video games, and the smell of cheap beer and sweat. In other words, not a place any modern man would want to be caught in.
But that’s not to say gentlemen don’t appreciate having a room that offers a refuge from their busy lives. Realtor Andi Ahart says men are increasingly searching for raw spaces they can transform. “I find that they’re just looking for the space because they want to make it their own,” she says, “whether it’s a third-car garage to convert or a full-on casita.”
These new male-oriented spaces—let’s call them men’s dens—aren’t about hiding from the world. They’re about self-expression and celebrating what makes a man feel like he’s part of the world.
The ultimate men’s den includes a regulation NBA half-court.
The den in Gavin Maloof’s Southern Highlands mansion sits across a lavish stairwell from a home theater. Around 600 square feet, the room is stately without being stuffy. One wall is lined with signed guitars from bands such as Panic! at the Disco and Creed. On the same wall is a fat-panel screen connected to a house-wide media server that can dial up 24 terabytes of music and movies at the touch of a button. Nearby is a signed LeBron James jersey.
The den also features a plush walk-in bar. A circular bar table frames one side of the space; at the other is a gorgeous pool table with carved accents. The room is painted a shade of purple that echoes the color of the Sacramento Kings, the basketball franchise the Maloof family owned for more than a decade. Hand-carved wooden details lend the space elegance, and much of its handsome but casual energy comes from the deep-brown hand-scraped hardwood floors.
On the ceiling, fat walnut boards help dampen noise. But if this all sounds too dark, just turn to the far wall, which opens onto a sunken outdoor patio that fills the room with warm light.
Tom Blanchard’s rock ’n’ roll fantasy den.
The nearly 16,000-square-foot home of a sports-loving businessman—listed by Shapiro & Sher Group for $9.5 million—on the shore of Anthem Country Club’s lake features a basement recreation space with a full bar, home theater, and pool table. But the real men’s den is the full-size Olympic volleyball court and regulation NBA half-court, with a ceiling of steel and diagonally intersecting wood beams and a floor hand-laid in floating parquet, just like an NBA court. Best of all: The court has a curving glass-walled seating area, so friends can pull up a chair, have a bite or a drink, and take in the action courtside. Realtor Ivan Sher reveals that this ultimate male domain has a backstory: Located in a detached building that also features a massage room, a bedroom, and a fourcar garage, the room was built by the current owners as a kind of elaborate privacy screen. “The home itself was exposed on one side to the neighbors.”
In Mountain’s Edge, Tom Blanchard’s den is not only a do-it-yourself tour de force; it’s also a reimagining of what we want from such a space. The den that Blanchard converted is located just off his home’s entry and filled with musical equipment that he has salvaged and repurposed as an artistic expression of his life’s story. Drums hang from the walls—a reminder of the Detroit native’s days playing drums in a rock band—with artwork honoring rock ’n’ roll legends like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix painted on the drumheads. The drums are backlit with multicolored LED lights that can be controlled from his iPad, allowing him to create different moods. Resting on tables that Blanchard built from reclaimed wood are old guitar amps whose interiors he gutted, turning them into small liquor cabinets. For a lover of music and cocktails, it’s the perfect combination.
Blanchard notes—and this is undoubtedly the key to the rehabilitation of the man cave as a respectable space—that he created the room as a place where his wife and young daughter would want to spend time. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” he says. “This is a refection of everything that made Daddy happy and everything that made him who he is.”