For many women, shopping centers hold their attention, but some men in the Wichita area are having a hard time finding a place that fits their interests. So they are taking matters into their own hands and building spaces to fill their needs—man caves.
A man cave—also referred to as a manspace or male sanctuary—is typically a converted space in the house, such as a garage or den, that is filled with whatever the male in question desires. From automobile collectibles to University of Kansas memorabilia, each man cave is molded around the interests of the owner.
For Buddy Edwards, his man cave doubles as a garage workspace in a warehouse. His is one of approximately 70 metal buildings in northeast Wichita that were sold off like condominiums and mostly bought by men like Edwards who were in need of a space of their own. Edwards, who had been collecting automobile memorabilia for many years, purchased his warehouse with the intention of having one space for his enormous and ever-growing collection.
“If you build it, they will come.” — Lance Daniels
“This way, I was able to put it all together, whereas before most things were mostly stored. Now I can see them and use them,” Edwards said. “You can collect paintings, but if you don’t have walls to store them all, there’s nothing you can do to show them off. My cave is kind of a private place used to display things that I’ve collected.”
In his cave, Edwards has years of collectibles on show, from restored cars to old Pac-Man machines. But what started as a space for himself has adapted into a communal space for his family and friends as well; his family has hosted Thanksgiving dinners in the warehouse, birthdays have been celebrated there and even graduation parties have been thrown there. “You never know what it might get used for,” Edwards said.
Edwards has also made friends with the others in the “neighborhood.” Men with similar interests to Edwards bought many of the other metal warehouses. One has become a clubhouse with a bar, conference room and big screen televisions where the men can gather when they are not in their separate spaces. For Edwards, this gives him yet another avenue of exploring his hobbies, rather than just displaying them in his own personal space.
“It’s also a great place to hang out, a lot of people around here have the same types of interest and hobbies as you do, and you can share ideas,” Edwards said. “There’s a friend who collects Texaco memorabilia, and I collect Phillips 66, so if we ever see something that would work for the other, pick it up for each other. It’s a great way to learn.” Lance Daniels built his Maize man cave eight years ago for all his neighborhood friends as a place for everyone to come together and enjoy the time, saying: “If you build it, they will come.” Every few days he will receive a message from a friend asking, “is pub open?”
“We are usually open one night every weekend, if not both, for our friends to come over,” Daniels said about his detached garage turned party area. “I spend a lot of time out there once work is done. I usually just have the doors open, doing yard work and just enjoying the space.”
And the space itself is pretty enjoyable: A bar is decked out with KU memorabilia that is also covered in more 100 signatures from people who have visited the space. Two 50-inch televisions are usually set to broadcast any KU, Wichita State or Royals games. His relative Jim Jacobson has a K-State man cave of his own, where he airs his own team’s games in a purple and gray atmosphere. It has metal cabinets, a kitchen area, a loft for his children and an outdoor patio space.
“His is all K-State, but we still allow him into ours,” Daniels said.
While Edwards purchased his cave with the intention of filling it to his liking, Calvin Coady had a more organic approach to the process.
“I called it my man room for a long time, and then all the sudden I learned there was a thing called a man cave,” Coady said. “The whole thing just evolved—it’s not like I set out to do it over the weekend. I just added to it a little bit at the time over the years.”
It started with the purchase of a used refrigerator from a neighbor for Coady. With a little help from his friends, he turned the storage room in his basement into a space for both work and play. The walls are covered in exterior siding with signs, pictures and old hats, and the ceilings are painted a deep black.
Most of Coady’s items on display are collected as well, but they originated from friends and family rather than a purchase. Coady uses the space regularly to work, exercise and just hang out in.
With friends Coady was able to even create his own homemade bar in the basement. He invites friends over to watch games in his designated manly room, something both he and his wife are happy with. “It’s just kind of a laid-back space,” Coady said. “It’s a fun place to watch a game, and every guy that comes down says, ‘I need to make one.’”
Although not every man has the space to be able to create a fun and manly atmosphere, most man cave owners are willing to share their spaces with friends and family. According to Daniels, there is one part of a man cave that is the most important.
“Every man cave needs a mount,” Daniels said. “That’s why I have a tie-dyed unicorn.”