The macho shrine

WHEN Elvis Presley wanted to chill out with his friends at Graceland, it was never in one of the vast reception rooms.

No, when the gang sat down for an evening of fun, it was in a cosy den in the basement of his Memphis mansion. Replete with big black sofas, comfy yellow cushions and a bank of television screens, the room was a perfect example of a “man cave”.

And just like Presley, men are increasingly finding ways to unwind in their own private spaces at home.

Male visitors to Brad Pitt’s former home in Malibu, which was sold last year, were entertained in a room that featured a Wurlitzer jukebox, flat-screen TV screens and Harley-Davidson motorbike wheels. Not forgetting the “kegerator” – a refrigerator big enough to chill beer kegs.

Johnny Depp is another confirmed caveman. His man cave in Paris is filled with guitars and cases of wine from the south of France.

Nicholas Cage has a man cave filled with rare Superman comics.

You don’t need to be rich and famous to join the club, though. Go to mancave.comto find vignettes of middle America at its wackiest.

Rooms are given over to sports and other macho hobbies, and decorated in such shamelessly bad taste that no woman would dare to go near.

The idea has caught on with a vengeance: from high-end basement city boltholes and garden rooms, to attics and sheds in the shires. Chaps claim to need their space, and they are prepared to pay for it.

None more so than the lucky few for whom money is no object. For them, the man cave is both a style statement and a sexual one. Like your clothes or music, it says something about the sort of man you aspire to be.

Some high-end man caves are so chic that they feel like art galleries. The stylish attic playroom designed by Maurizio Pellizzoni, of MPD London, for a city client incorporates a pool table, a 20-seat sofa, a retractable cinema screen and life-sized figures of Batman and the Joker.

“I was commissioned to create a comfortable space for entertaining and relaxing, as an escape from his busy job in the city,” he says. “I decided to draw on the design influences of a classic Hollywood lifestyle that suited the modern architecture of the space.”

To be the owner of a man cave is a sign that you have arrived. If you are an alpha male, it is not enough to bag a trophy wife, buy a multimillion property and keep a Ferrari or three in the drive.

You need a private male space: an inner sanctum, distinct from your place of work and from family life.

In ambience, the room should be the polar opposite of its female counterpart, the boudoir.

But that does not necessarily mean a refrigerator stuffed with cans of lager.

Inhabitants of man caves do not have to be cool or sporty. They just have to value their male privacy – and fight like tigers to protect it.

“The man cave is not a place to talk or socialise,” says Edward Rook, of Knight Frank. “In fact, for many men, it is a place to retreat.”

As you hunker down inside, the women in your life may well think you are mad, sad, or both. But they will also be delighted that all those games, darts boards, football magazines and action film DVDs are tucked safely out of sight. Whatever they think, you can remain blissfully oblivious, safe in the cocoon of your cave. ©The Daily Telegraph

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