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Taylor Hamon, and his girlfriend Mariah Grimes, left, enjoy entertaining outdoors at his home near the Tennessee River.
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Modern man caves

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Not every home has a designated man cave, but oh, the joy in the homes that do.

Whether it's found in an extra bedroom, basement, garage or other secluded area, this designated space becomes the personal sanctuary for the man of the house, a place where he can pursue his hobbies, indulge his guilty pleasures or simply just watch the game uninterrupted with a cooler of beer pulled up to the BarcaLounger.

In their earliest incarnations, man caves were simply where ugly furniture went to die. These days, inspired by home improvement shows like DIY's "Man Caves," men are opting for more than TVs and dartboards to accessorize their space.

Maybe it's a projector screen and theater seats for the movie buff. A sound booth for the musician. A golf simulator or wall of jerseys for the sports fan. A workout room and sauna for the fitness enthusiast.

"The most common starting point is to decide what theme you want dominating the room," according to the experts at SebringDesignBuild.com. "This will depend on your hobbies and activities. Some create replicas of submarines or airplane cockpits. Some fill their man cave with film or music regalia. It all depends on your passions."

It also depends on who's using the space. The man who tinkers with tools into the wee hours may want a space that suits him and him alone. The man who likes to entertain might opt for a more communal space with a pool table, poker table or top-of-the-line grill.

However they're used, the modern man cave is often too nice to keep hidden. Here's a look at three area homeowners who have designed a space that's snazzy enough for visitors to enjoy.

 

Outdoor living area

» Homeowner: Taylor Hamon, 31, Chattanooga

» How it's used: For relaxing after work and on weekends — lots of group parties

» About the space: Hamon, director of sales at Coyote Logistics, says his outdoor living area is a no-frills space, but its use has become "a year-round thing." Included when his home was built on South Chickamauga Creek in 2014, the 29-by-16-foot vaulted pavilion boasts a television, stereo speakers, plush seating, fireplace, refrigerator and built-in grill. "We definitely do find that we entertain here quite a bit," Hamon says, referencing girlfriend Mariah Grimes.

» Recent addition: "I bought one of those outdoor [patio] heaters like you see in restaurants. It heats up the space pretty well, plus the fireplace keeps the space warm when we're out here in the fall."

» Favorite time to hang out: The space gets almost year-round use, except for the bleakest days in January, Hamon says. "Whether it's raining or snowing, we can still use the grill because it's covered. We use that a good amount," he says. "We've hosted bridal showers and parties. We watch a lot of football in the fall, and we do a Christmas sweater party in December every year." Visiting family members also make use of the waterfront space, especially in the summer. "We go out on the boat a lot," he says.

 

Garage workshop

» Homeowner: David Altepeter, 68, Soddy-Daisy

» How it's used: Puttering space for home-remodeling projects

» About the space: "It's just a basic 24-by-24, two-car garage, but I fiddled with it," says Altepeter. He and wife Linda bought the house in September 2017, remodeled it during trips back and forth from home in Ohio, and moved in last summer. They've finished the home's remodel, but the garage remains "a work in progress," Altepeter says. "There's a bit more to go, but I am getting close."

No ordinary garage, the upgraded space includes heavy-duty storage lockers for his tools, fold-up workshop equipment, a workbench, side-by-side refrigerator with ice maker, laundry sink, nine bright ceiling lights and board-and-batten painted walls. He sold some of his full-size tools to substitute fold-up versions that are easier to store. "It takes up less of a footprint," he says of the compact equipment. "I can put it to the side and still have room for the cars."

» Next addition: "Next step is to install a metal ceiling, and I'll have the space completed pretty close to my original plan," he says.

» Favorite time to hang out: Whenever the mood strikes. "It's just a goofy man cave," Altepeter says. "It's not as over-the-top as some, but it's a nice place to retreat." He especially likes not having to bundle up to enjoy the garage in the winter. "I'm used to Ohio winters," he says. "All I need is a jacket for a couple of months here."

 

Basement rec room

» Homeowner: Timothy King, 57, Hixson

» How it's used: Everything from movie nights with his wife to sports viewing parties with family, friends and neighbors

» About the space: "It's always been a dream to have a big place to entertain with a pool table and surround-sound TV and a bar combined in one big area," King says. So when he and wife Kyra bought the home a couple of years ago, the spacious, L-shaped basement was a selling point. "But we definitely put our own mark on everything," he says. "We rebuilt the bar and did a lot of updating."

His wife teases him about the number of audio speakers in the space — "there's only 15 or 16 down there," he counters. Three televisions, including a 65-inch behemoth, make it ideal for sports events and Oscar parties. The theater system is equipped with a turntable to play his collection of vinyl records, everything from The Beatles to Pink Floyd to Dave Matthews. The space is filled with pop-culture references, including Riverbend Festival souvenirs, rock memorabilia and movie posters.

The custom bar King built includes mementos of favorite childhood cartoons, old family photos and "and a lot of ticket stubs from concerts we've been to," he says.

» Recent addition: The Kings recently renovated the full bath in the space, but the showpiece project is just outside. "The man cave opens through [sliding] glass doors to an outside deck with a second bar, fire pit and lavish pond and waterfall area," he says. "We built everything ourselves. We looked it up on YouTube and watched videos. ... This will be the first full summer to enjoy the stream and the pond and the deck."

» Favorite time to hang out: All the time. "We have staycations," King says of their affection for their home. "We don't need to go anywhere."

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