Every hard-working man deserves a space of his own at home that he can escape to after a long day; a sanctuary where he can relax, compose his thoughts and pursue his hobbies in peace. In the past, these hideaways went by names such as the study, the den, the game room, or the trophy room. Now they now fall under a new moniker: man caves.
A lot of the most admired cigar men in history enjoyed time in their own man cave. Ernest Hemingway wrote in a small studio in his home in Key West, Florida that he had converted from a hay loft. Mark Twain penned The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in an isolated hut that his sister-in-law built for him. And the great Sir Winston Churchill would often retreat to an art studio he built in his estate garden so he could relax, paint and puff.
Whereas these great men primarily used their spaces to work, today's man cave is often multifunctional, doubling as an area suitable for both business and pleasure. One day you could be using the space to catch up on paperwork or work emails, and the next you're pouring yourself a drink and watching the game with some friends.
Regardless of how you plan to use your man cave, building your own can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor. And for the cigar lover, a man cave can also be the one space in your home where you are free to light up without risking bothering non-smoking members of the household.
Ensuring that the smoke from your premium cigar doesn't escape into other areas of the home, however, can be a bit of a challenge. It's this hurdle that inspired us at Cigar Aficionado to create this guide and offer some tips to the cigar enthusiast looking to create a cigar-friendly man cave.
1) Plan It Out
Before you start constructing your cigar man cave, it's a good idea to first develop a plan so as to lessen the chance of encountering any major problems while it's being built.
Start with deciding the location, as this will influence some of your future decisions. Will you be building a brand new room that's attached to your house, or opting to erect a detached man cave somewhere on your property? The major pro of building a detached structure is that there is no chance cigar smoke will leech into unwanted areas of the house, but the downside is they can be more expensive if you wish to install utilities such as heat, plumbing and electricity.
Or do you want to convert an underused space such as a garage or basement, the most popular man cave spot? Basements make good man caves for a couple practical reasons: utilities are typically nearby, and heating and cooling the space is usually easier since it's mostly below ground level. However, some basements are prone to being damp, wet and musty, which is not ideal for cigars. Additionally, since smoke rises it can be difficult (and costly) to ensure that none of it escapes to floors above the basement level (but not impossible, as you'll read below).
For a cigar man cave, it might be wise to think a little outside of the box, or more accurately, at the top of it. An attic can be ideal for a cigar man cave simply because it's easier to ventilate the rising smoke. For this same reason, a space above a garage can also be a good candidate for a man cave.
Wherever you decide to build your cigar-friendly man cave, it would be wise to consult a professional who can assess your house and figure out what you will need to do to make it structurally sound enough to support another room. Additionally, a good structural engineer will know the local building codes. A website such as HomeAdvisor.com allows you to search for accredited companies that can spot problems before your begin your cigar man cave project.
2) Contain The Smoke
Proper insulation is perhaps the most important factor in designing a cigar-friendly man cave. You want this to be a place you can relax, without having to worry about spreading smoke throughout your house and disturbing non-smoking family members. Without proper insulation, you don't have a cigar room.
"A gentlemen's room is very important to seal correctly," says Vincent Sciarretta, the owner of VAS Construction Inc. in Darien, Connecticut. Sciarretta is a cigar enthusiast whose elaborate man cave was featured in a 2013 issue of Cigar Aficionado. And when it comes to insulation, he says, professionally installed spray foam is the only way to keep smoke from spreading to other areas of the house.
"Fiberglass insulation works for keeping in warmth," says Sciarretta, "but spray foam will cover every nook and cranny, really keeping the smoke from getting out."
Hiring a spray foam company to insulate your man cave is not cheap. Your standard 20- by 15-foot room will cost between $2,000 to $3,000 to fully insulate. However, if you're serious about building a cigar-friendly man cave, this is the step worth spending the most money. Less expensive, do-it-yourself products are available, but for a job of this importance we suggest you leave it to the pros.
"Professional insulators use a better product than you can find commercially, and that's all they do, so they know how to do it right," says Sciarretta, who recommends asking a contractor for a reputable service. "And if you're not using a contractor, look online." Websites such as Angie's List and the Better Business Bureau can help you find a reputable company in your area. Sciarretta strongly suggests you also ask the company for references—either from a contractor or customer—to ensure you will get your money's worth.
3) Ventilation Is Your Friend
Among the many decisions you'll make building a cigar man cave, by far the most important is figuring out how you will clear the smoke out of your new room. If you are able to afford it, creating a separate ventilation system apart from the house's main ducts is the best option. If that's not possible, the next best thing is to purchase an ancillary air purifier. At the very least it's important to have windows with an exhaust fan.
A company like BPA Air Quality Solutions sells commercial-grade smoke eaters that actually suck up smoke and odors and filters them through carbon. These type of filtration devices are heavy duty, often found in cigar bars and lounges. They are especially good if you are converting a large space. However, smoker eaters can be costly and loud, though higher end systems have all but eliminated these concerns.
An alternative that won't break the bank is an air purifier, such as one from Rabbit Air (we've positively reviewed both the MinusA2 and BioGS 2.0 models). These machines not only trap smoke via an activated carbon filter, but simultaneously generate and release negative ions to freshen the surrounding air. While they aren't on the same level as a smoke eater, they are cheaper and certainly more effective than opening a window and running an exhaust fan.
4) Cigar Storage
What's the point of building your own cigar man cave if you store your premium smokes in another part of the house? You'll want to keep your cigars close at hand, and that means investing in a quality humidor or two.
Ideally, your cigar man cave will be kept at a constant temperature below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above 70 degrees and you begin to run the risk of setting up circumstances that allow beetle larvae to hatch and ruin your cigar inventory. Tobacco beetles begin to hatch at temperatures above 72 degrees, but it's better to be safe than sorry. (Here's a video explaining how to fight a tobacco beetle infestation.)
Since a cigar man cave is a permanent space, a cabinet humidor is a good purchase. Meant to house a large amount of cigars, cabinet humidors are solid, immobile and ideal for aging cigars and storing boxes that you want to keep for posterity's sake. Two companies, J.C. Pendergast (now owned by GSP Enterprises) and Vanderburgh & Co., stand out for their quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. Both will customize your purchase, too, which is always nice. Plus, the top of a cabinet humidor can double as a place to keep your spirits bottles.
While a cabinet humidor is good for deep storage, you might think it impractical to house the cigars you'll smoke on a daily basis. A smaller desktop humidor such as this one from Boveda can be kept out on a coffee table or lamp table. Not only does it show that your man cave is cigar-friendly, but guests can ogle the cigars (and grab one) without having to open up the main cabinet humidor and disturb the slumbering cigars in it.
5) Make It Your Own
At the end of the day, all the advice in the world doesn't matter unless you personalize your cigar man cave and make it a space of your own. Little touches such as a souvenir you purchased on a trip, a signed jersey of a star athlete, or a work of art that speaks to you are important as they add character to your man cave, and can spark conversations.
In addition to décor, you'll likely want to stock your man cave with an array of electronics such as a flat-screen television, turntable, pinball machine, or a video game system. (Music lovers may also love the classic look of this gramophone.) Or maybe you are into indoor leisure sports and want to set up a pool table, a dart board, or a poker table.
Whatever your hobbies or passions, be sure your man cave is setup to pursue them. After all, that's half the fun of having a space you can call your own.