Since prehistoric times, man has searched for the perfect cave.
Thousands of years later, that primitive urge remains as the male of the species looks for a sanctuary where he can devour flesh, quaff fermented grain—and play rock ’n’ roll real loud.
“My man cave means the world to me,” says Fred Dawson, who has transformed the 1,700-square-foot lower level of his home into Guy Land. “This is where I get back to my roots.”
For him, that means music. A successful financial adviser, Dawson also plays the Hammond B3 organ in the band Club Phred, rehearsing classic rock of the 1960s and ’70s in the man cave every Tuesday night.
He looked long and hard for a suitable space to jam in before building a sprawling custom home in an upscale development in Yorklyn.
“I had a very specific wish list and realized the only way to get everything on it was to start from scratch,” he says.
The man cave is Dawson’s interpretation of an invitation-only nightclub. Sofas and comfy chairs frame the space on three sides. Clusters of tables and chairs form intimate groupings where guests can enjoy food and drink and groove to the music.
A black, floor-to-ceiling curtain is the band’s dramatic backdrop. “The curtain is very stagey, very nightclubby, just the look I was going for,” he says.
The original plans mandated a custom-built bar. But while Dawson was traveling in Atlanta, he spied a wooden bar ornately carved with stained glass accents. It looked like it was lifted out of an English pub.
It struck him as the ideal spot for the blokes at home to raise a pint.
“I immediately called the builder and told him to stop work, that I had found a bar and was shipping it home,” he recalls.
Although space is a male domain, women are welcome to enter the cave at party time.
“I love and respect women,” Dawson says. “I’m even married to a woman.”
His wife, Louise, approaches interior design with the same enthusiasm her husband has for music. She took charge of decorating the rest of the house, including a Southwest-flavored family room with an equestrian theme.
“But the man cave is all Fred,” she says. “He came up with everything.”
Indeed. There is a walk-out entrance where the band’s van backs up, the better to roll the Hammond B3—all 480 pounds of it—out of the man cave for road trips. Outside, two runners of open-topped pavers are set into the ground, providing a pathway for the van without disturbing the lush lawn.
There is a wooden dance floor in front of the stage, which is illuminated by a track of theater lighting. Ceiling fans keep the air circulating. Wiring for the sound system and other gadgetry is hidden above the acoustical ceiling panels.
“This space is extraordinarily insulated,” he says. “In 11 years, my neighbors have never heard a sound.”