How Man Caves Took Over America’s Basements

We’ve all heard this phrase before: man cave. Whether it’s in a hardware store commercial, a chagrined sigh from mom, or as a sitcom punch line, the man cave is, without a doubt, a part of our current homeowner vernacular. But what defines this space, and how did it get here? Of course, the history of the masculine-feminine dichotomy in interiors and architecture is a well-exhausted field, but few have covered the fact that the 30+ year increase in home size has created opportunities for new gendered spaces, and that these spaces are more than mere frivolity: they are an interesting piece of a changing social landscape. So what are man caves? A man cave usually develops in spare rooms, such as bedrooms, offices, finished basements, or recreation rooms. The garage, another traditionally masculine space, is more often a workshop or place to make repairs. Its connotation with work (often frustrating and unsavory as any viewer of Home Improvement can attest) as well as its thermal issues (it’s rarely cooled or heated like the rest of the house) demarcate it from the man cave, an interior space.

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