Let's talk about the need for a space commonly called a man cave

Let's talk about the need for that space called a man cave

Two phrases that frustrate my female colleagues when we're talking about real estate descriptions are "his and hers" for bedroom add-ons like built-in robes or two shower heads in the ensuite, and "man cave" for a recreational, storage or workshop space that's probably not going to be used as a kid's rumpus for whatever reason.

The reasons for their frustration, and I'm with them on this, is you have no idea who is going to buy or live in the house once it's sold, so don't presume it's a hetero couple. And the space that can become a man cave could also be all sorts of other things that appeal just as much to women. Plus, women can be car or motorbike enthusiasts too, it's just that there's fewer of them, that's all.

Kids need a place to play and relax with friends, and so does each adult. Photo: Shutterstock.

Kids need a place to play and relax with friends, and so does each adult. Photo: Shutterstock.

Man caves are a thing though, and an important one, but the definition appears to be very much open to interpretation.

Commonly thought of by some as a place to half-jokingly banish the menfolk when they're on the premises, man caves, I put it to you, should actually be thought of as a place where the bloke in the house can go and be himself fairly regularly.

When deciding what to do within the layout of a home the kids generally get thought of first (and rightly so) with play areas and their own bedrooms wherever possible, but each of the adults in the home should also have a comfortable and dry place where they can go and be contemplative as well as immerse themself in their primary passion, whether it's some form of art, or a personal library and reading nook, or a music room, or a little editing suite for their photos or videos, or any number of other pursuits they derive personal satisfaction from.

For automotive enthusiasts, a man cave will obviously have a motoring theme, but it could still be anything from a functional workshop area to a shrine full of interesting collectables like models, posters and various memorabilia such as signs and bowsers. If you're fortunate enough to have the space, the areas can be separated into a workshop and a clinically-clean private museum.

On that, there's a word that's been gaining wider use over the decades to refer to vintage items or collectables that appeal mostly to men. That word is mantiques.

Eric Bradley authored a book released in 2014 called Mantiques: A Manly Guide to Cool Stuff, and in an interview with Psychology Today he said he traced the word back to a disused trademark for a men's clothing line originating in New York in the 1970s. He also said that a couple of shops used it as well, but it was ultimately TV shows on the History Channel in the USA that popularised the term in the 2000s.

The cave should reflect your personality type too. For extroverts, quiet contemplation may only need to occur for short periods, or it may actually be a space that's arranged so as to facilitate social connection. Mates can come over and help you build stuff, or maybe you'll just chill out together in a somewhat grown-up version of a games room, or a private bar, or a private lounge.

Introverts however, absolutely need this quiet time on a regular basis, especially after a period of social interaction.

Irrespective of our personality type though, we all need a hobby. Whatever our profession, whatever our skillset, we all need to take an interest in something for the purpose of pleasure, and perhaps other feelings like personal achievement and social connection (whether that connection is frequent and lengthy or occasional and fairly brief).

For me, as you will have at least partly predicted from my end line each week, it's tinkering with cars I can use in amateur motorsport, and sim racing that I justify to myself as a form of driving practice (but I've actually got too many sims with way too many cars and tracks for it to only be about the practice).

As a reasonably introverted person I'm happy in the shed or the sim rig on my own, but I do also look forward to wheeling one of my physical cars out again (once I've put one of them back together) and catching up with friends at one of the amateur events that I usually like to enter. And I couldn't do any of that without a suitable man cave.

Sam Hollier is an ACM journalist and a motoring fanatic who builds cars in his shed in his spare time.