After a rough day at the office, more and more men are retreating to a cave.
"Man caves," "manlands," "manchuaries" ---- those and other terms identify a hot trend in housing: creating a men's lounge in a section of garage, an attic, basement or spare room.
Statistics are elusive, but Jasen Strutt of Sacramento, founder of perfectmancave.com in 2008, said about 20,000 visitors click on the site monthly to share man-cave design ideas and expertise. Realtors have begun trumpeting man caves in ads for houses ---- "the ultimate man cave," reads one ad for a house in San Marcos.
And a recent survey by the online home-improvement site servicemagic.com found 40 percent of American households already have man caves; 13 percent reported a cave in the planning stages.
A generation ago, converting such spare house space into a lounge was a co-ed affair, with the wife's touch typically evident in the furnishings and decor.
Man caves are 100 percent testosterone.
Mike Yost created mancavesite.org in 2008 as a place to find man-cave resources, get ideas and post pictures of man caves. By day, Yost works for the Army as a computer engineer; he lives south of Tucson, Ariz.
Yost reasons the man-cave phenomenon this way: After marriage, the wife "tends to take over the house. The guy's stuff gets boxed up. This is a way for him to carve an area for his stuff."
Besides, Yost said, the rooms also can be used as family centers, although "only the men get to decorate."
That means man caves often are high on sports memorabilia, car and motorcycle items, and pub fittings. Big-screen TVs are essential equipment, and caves also often include lounge chairs, a card table, bar stools, and, proudly, a "kegerator," a refrigerator modified to house an entire keg of beer. Mugs are kept in the freezer.
Yost's own man cave has become a man house, with among other things, a fire pit in the back. "As a cave man, you have to have fire," he explained.
Yost is engaged to be married and said his wife-to-be is fully supportive of his man-caving, but he's selling his house and moving when they get married. Yost said he has not encountered a wife opposed to her husband creating a man cave.
He hasn't yet met Marisol Clark-Ibanez of Cal State San Marcos.
Clark-Ibanez is a sociology professor; her husband, a musician and counselor. "I would not be enthusiastic about a man cave," she said. "I see them on sitcoms."
Clark-Ibanez said "gendered space" raises questions about "the role of the man in the rest of the house." And while she said man caves haven't been the focus of any research yet, studies show that in the allocation of household chores, the closest men come is 40 percent.
That's unlikely to be a topic of discussion in man caves. However, "if a wife needs something, she knows where he (the man caver) is," Yost said.
Mike Salyer of San Diego, who builds poker tables often used in man caves, said cave gathering is a much better alternative to going to bars. "It's the perfect hangout," he said.
Although some man caves are little more than a corner of the garage outfitted with a TV, couch and refrigerator, cavers easily can spend $10,000, Salyer and other enthusiasts say. Salyer's poker tables range to $3,500; some cavers opt for custom-made chips, exotic theater and music systems and bars that are the envy of many taverns.
Mike Kretch of Oceanside is just getting started in converting an unused bedroom into a cave. He's decided on a poker theme for the room "with TVs all over the place" and a bar backing into what used to be the closet. Kretch is director of the National Archives facility near March Air Reserve Base, and his long commute makes the cave even more appealing at the end of the journey. He envisions the room as a fun place for "getting the guys together."
Perhaps most important: His wife is supportive, he said.
Call staff writer Jeff Rowe at 760-740-5417.