If it feels like a long time since I've written one of these, it's because it has been!
For those who may have missed it, I started this small "Game Day Survival Series" late last season as a way to address information fans may need to know that doesn't specifically fall into the category of the X's and O's of pro football. Those topics previously touched on tickets, tailgate music, and game day superstitions.
Naturally, when it came time to think of another subject to write about (during the slow offseason) I started wondering about those members of Steelers Nation who watch their favorite team at home. Where does one go to unwind after a long day? Where do they go to relax, to think, or simply to do whatever they please?
If you have the extra space in your house, chances are you may have transformed it into a home theater room, den, or what us male fans prefer to call them: a man cave.
Man caves can be a dedicated space to escape from the world, but what does one need to make the most of their "play area"?
That's what I'll explore in this edition of the Game Day Survival Series.
Okay, I'm going to be blunt about this: you're on a Pittsburgh Steelers site. While I'm a big fan of craft beer and retro video games, the best theme for any man cave is one that focuses heavily on sports elements.
While the Internet is full of amazing ideas for your rec rooms, I'm not really interested in some of the concepts out there. You may find lots of colorful and innovative pictures that will help jog your own imagination.
You may find lots of colorful and innovative pictures that will help jog your own imagination. Amongst the most popular concepts, you are likely to come across are bars (Tiki bar, an Irish pub and similar), gentleman’s club, gaming room and hunting lodge style.
As a last resort, you can always be practical and set up a gym, home theater room, or something your wife would like... but then again, that would not be a man cave! (Do you really want this space cluttered with girly stuff or another dresser?!)
When I say that, I don't necessarily mean that a man cave must center around football only. However, if you're a football fanatic, I'd be willing to bet it's going to be a sports-centric theme that fits the bill for outfitting your own man cave.
Now that you know your theme is sports, and I've mentioned you can add to it, what goes best with a Steelers-inspired man cave? Let's have a look.
Yes, a lot of this will depend on your budget, but there are some non-negotiable items which must be a part of every man cave.
First and foremost, you must have a TV.
And not just any TV either.
No matter what anyone else says, bigger is always better. If you invite your friends over to watch the big game on a 19-inch tube TV, chances are they won't be your game day pals much longer. I absolutely love the idea of having a flat screen HDTV in the range of 50+ inches as the centerpiece of a man cave.
Yes, I said bigger is better, but I also talked about basics and budget here too. Most HDTVs in this category can be had for as low as a few hundred bucks. My goal isn't to give a price guide here, so to each their own, but if you can splurge, I'm not sure an 80-inch TV will work out well unless you have a big enough room to not get that first row of the movie theater feeling.
With that in mind, I'd rather you spend the extra money on a TV you like and sit on the floor, rather than have a tiny screen in which one person could obstruct by getting up for a pee break.
Of course, you don't want to sit on the floor, so a couch or a set of cozy chairs (something to sit on, duh) is also a requirement.
You should also have your cold beer and snacks nearby. Maybe you have an extra fridge in the basement or can afford a mini fridge for aesthetic reasons. That's a personal preference, but the last thing you want is having your riled-up buddies trekking up and down the stairs to grab a cold one.
Simple solutions are often the best ones but going the extra mile shouldn’t be hard either. Decorating a sport room could involve simply putting up a display of everything that matters to you. Sports memorabilia, such as jerseys, posters, and pieces of equipment (perhaps even signed by famous players) is a start.
Online stores also offer a variety of fun items with sports themes: furniture, fridges, pictures, signs, glasses and more. Again, that will depend on your budget, whereas you may have a poster or jersey lying around the house that could suffice to take up wall space and spice up the environment.
When discussing "practical uses" earlier, I hope you can convince your wife that a pool table, dart board, or foosball is more practical than another shoe rack. While these items are far from necessities, it will give you and your friends something else to do during breaks in the action.
How about a little bit of paddle ball during halftime? Or what about something to do in the offseason, like hosting a poker night?
A poker table would complement the overall sports vibe, and if you're on a budget, there's no reason why you couldn’t make one yourself. (Especially if you have a knack for those types of things.)
With a little bit of patience, some power tools and the help of an easy-to-follow internet guide to building your own poker table, you can save a considerable amount of money, while having fun making something with your own hands. (In fact, you could actually build the whole room by yourself rather than hiring a professional company to customize your man cave.)
Don't forget a bar (dry or wet) could also be a great, practical, addition to your room. (In fact, you may get a better response from your wife if you incorporate wine into the layout.)
And if you really want to do like I did and add some gaming, an arcade machine is another popular man cave must-have.
You have a TV. You have somewhere to sit. You can easily eat and drink till your heart's content.
So what's next?
For the novice man cave owner, I'd suggest adding TVs. During the spring there's always more than one sport or game to watch. Baseball begins as hockey and basketball enter the postseason, with broadcasts often overlapping one another.
Years ago I would've considered this a more difficult task to do. TVs obviously cost more, but now even 32" class HDTVs hover in the hundred dollar range. A second or even third TV in the man cave could be the talk of the town. And it's easier than ever to bring the games to each screen.
In the past, you may have needed dedicated cable or satellite dish boxes for each display. Streaming sticks, along with low-cost cord-cutting options like Sling TV, or traditional over-the-air antennas can make mirroring the local sports bar attainable.
If you plan to share the man cave with a spouse or family, frills such as a popcorn machine add to the Feng Shui too.
Obviously, if you can afford to deck your den out in all Steelers paraphernalia, it could cost you a pretty penny. But like adding another TV, it's possible to have a Steelers clock, couch, chairs, covers, and yes, even a Steelers toaster.
I have to admit, this article kind of got away from me here. There's so much other stuff I could easily add that should be a part of your man cave.
Alas, I can't go into every detail about universal remote controls or surround sound, but I hope the idea starters get you into a serious man cave designing groove.
Let me know what you think about my ideas and feel free to add yours, along with any questions, in the comments below.