Proper Lighting for Man Cave Décor

The Workbench Life: Baby Blogs

By Ron Marr for The Workbench Life

Lighting a man cave in the manner of a caveman appeals to a rogue strand of barbarian DNA lodged in my genetic blueprint. I’m nostalgic over sputtering torches and a smoke-blackened ceiling. I attribute this to a misspent youth involving countless parties in a cave overlooking the Missouri River.

Wisdom comes with age, and I realize that premature extermination via smoke inhalation is decidedly unwise. Thus, I brighten my man cave in a traditional fashion, confining my fiery instincts to several oil lamps and a bevel-cut, candle-powered red globe.

The point — a truism for all things man cave — is that lighting choices are subjective. Mixing the right kind of standard-issue fixtures with breakthroughs in luminous technology transforms your man cave into the envy of the testosterone brotherhood.


The flashlight market moved to LEDs (light-emitting diodes) long ago and the man cave market has followed suit. These small, powerful bulbs are ecologically sound, and their appearance and function surpass that of their predecessors. LEDs have a long lifespan, use around 30 percent less energy than fluorescents, and 50 percent less than incandescents. They work with any voltage, are dimmable, and encompass the color spectrum.

LED rope lights and tape lights can be hidden in ceiling coves, used to backlight a TV, shaped into artistic designs, or strategically placed to set the mood over bars or conversation pits.

Command and control

You don’t leave your recliner to change channels, so why are you walking to the light switch? Innovations in adjustable lighting allow independent system control via your TV remote or smart phone. Integrate your lights with sound-activated controllers to shine, dim, strobe or darken in perfect synchronization with touchdown cheers or Mad Max carnage.

Opt for manual controls, adjusting the intensity and effects as you see fit. Or program interactive scripts that automatically regulate the radiance to match your tastes.

The traditional: pool tables and pub lights

A three-bulb hanging light is essential over a man cave pool table. They’re available in all shapes and styles, but stained glass and incandescent bulbs channel the ambiance common of 1930s juke joints (and highlight the wafting smoke from pipes and Cuban stogies).

If you’re a fan of neon pub lights, seek out vintage fixtures from an antiques or architectural salvage store. The heady glow of old-style neon tubes has never been duplicated by modern reproductions.

Lamps and accent lights

Avoid torchieres and fringed table lamps — they’re too feminine. Instead, purchase stand-alone lights that mesh with your personality. Lamps and chandeliers crafted from naturally shed moose, deer or elk antlers are an outdoorsman favorite. For readers, a deep, red-leather library chair demands the tried-and-true gooseneck lamp. It’s okay if the lamp is emblazoned with a Yankees or Packers logo.

Whether your walls sport a Rembrandt or dogs playing poker, by all means outfit them with clip-on picture lights. Each deserves to be gazed upon in reverent awe.

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