How to Build a Lake Minnetonka Man Cave

Tips from the pros on how to create the ultimate male hideout.

The man cave. For many women, the term conjures up images of a dark basement hole-in-the-wall filled with cigar smoke, old sports trophies, bad movies, and a college buddy or two. Faced with the option of housing his beloved Rocky poster or mounted deer head in the family room, a woman may gladly hand over a corner room or space in the basement with the direction that, like Vegas, what happens in the man cave, stays in the man cave. 

While the man cave has not held a prestigious role in most houses, Marissa Frankenfield feels differently. More than two years ago, Marissa and her husband, Greg, joined forces with interior designer Katie Bassett to design the ultimate man space. The result? A man cave with modern touches.

Without a doubt, the Frankenfield man cave has all of the must-have features. Greg insisted on a full-sized bar, which he keeps fully stocked as a nod to his days as a bartender. The room also houses a pool table, poker table, two TVs and state-of-the-art stereo system. But Greg’s man cave is a bit more evolved than most. A smoke filter mounted on the ceiling whisks away any errant cigar smoke. The room is also sound proof so the guys don’t disturb other areas of the house. To top it all off, a stained glass window in the center of the bar mirror proudly announces the man cave’s official title: The Playing Field.

“The room has an ‘elegant lodge’ look to it,” says Bassett. With its clean cherry wood walls, beautiful arched bar and artistic light structures, this cave has evolved in both fun and functionality. Want a similar room in your house? Read on for our tips in creating the ultimate guys’ paradise.

Trust your professionals. Initially, Greg wanted his space have an English pub look to it. Bassett, who has designed several rooms for the Frankenfield family over the past few years, wasn’t so sure that style would fit in well with the rest of the home. She also wasn’t sure that was what Greg truly wanted. Instead, she spent some time researching and visiting local bars and country clubs. She then came across a picture of a stained glass design on a bar mirror and mentioned to Greg that he could create his own.

“You could name your own bar in the design,” Bassett told him. That one idea sparked his interest. The next day, says Bassett, Greg had not only named his bar The Playing Field, but he had also spoken to someone in his office about designing the stained glass.

“Creative people, when given creative freedom, give you more,” says Bassett. Marissa whole-heartedly agrees. She has found that letting architects and designers do what they do best truly leads to a better final product.

Honor the style of the rest of the house. Bassett describes the Frankenfields’ home as transitional, and it was important that the man cave retain some of the same features as found in the rest of the house. Bassett used cherry wood in Greg’s room, a choice that was consistent with the home. Beams that were added to the ceiling follow architecture found in other parts of the house.

Because the Frankenfields love entertaining, their home is designed to do so. Greg wanted his den to have that same inviting feel. Bar stools, a four-person poker table and a newly added loveseat in the far corner provide plenty of seating. What’s more is the two TVs ensure Greg’s guests won’t miss a single play of the action.

“Women need to let men have their space and their toys,” says Bassett, “but they can do that and still remain in the style of the rest of the house.”

Make the best use of your space. Be realistic when you consider how much the chosen room can accommodate. A full-sized pool table requires much more space than just the piece of furniture itself. That’s one reason why Ray Neset, manager of the Tonka Bay All American Recreation store, has seen a recent resurgence in sales of shuffleboards.

“Our most popular model is 9 ½ feet long,” says Neset. “You only need about two feet more on each end to make it work in your room. The shuffleboard can fit easily behind a sofa or against a wall.”

Don’t overlook the flexible of a combination table. A pool-turned-poker-turned-dining table offers many more options for a night in with the guys. All American Recreation also stocks an array of foosball, air hockey and bumper pool tables as well.

Recognize the importance of lighting. Because a man’s den has traditionally been in the basement, you need to put forth extra thought into creating a warm, well-lit space. “I can’t say enough how important light is in any room,” says Bassett. 

She was particularly worried about the lighting in the Frankenfield man cave as the room is under the garage and has no access to natural light. To properly light the space, she insisted on a variety of light fixtures: eight double sconce fixtures on the wall, a unique hanging light over the pool table, lots of recessed lighting in the ceiling, recessed lighting into the bar arch, rope lighting under the bar, and of course, backlighting in the stained glass on the bar mirror.

“The lighting in this room, particularly in the double sconces, are functional and artistic,” says Bassett. “The sconces are sculptural in their own right.” By choosing strong, artistic pieces to light the room, Bassett created a well-lit room and maintained the sophisticated, elegant look already established in the home.

Have fun. Stylistically speaking, the Frankenfields’ man cave is very fun. Lion corbels, mounted on the sides of the bar, and lion pull handles on the bar drawers were Bassett’s first inspiration for the room. Soon after discovering the finials, Bassett and Marissa came across the carpet—a diamond pattern with a leopard inlay—that they would eventually use. “The carpet nudged this room in a modern, elegant direction. It definitely made it more sophisticated,” says Bassett.

For Greg and many other men, the bar is a key element in creating a fun room. And having local brews definitely ups the ante.

Steel Toe Brewing, a St. Louis Park microbrewery open since last summer, has a few different selections that would add to any man cave. “You definitely want to go with Size 7,” says Jason Schoneman, owner of Steel Toe. “It’s an IPA so it focuses on the hops. It also has a juicy, sweet citrus flavor.” Schoneman also recommends the dark ale Dissent, the golden and refreshing Provider Ale or the hoppy red ale Rainmaker.

Growlers are available at Steel Toe’s brewery or can be purchased at The Four Firkins or Liquor Barrel, both in St. Louis Park. If you’d like to sample before you buy, pony up to the bar at Pizza Luce in Hopkins to try some of Steel Toe’s best on draught.

“If there’s one room you should take a creative risk with,” says Bassett, “it’s this one. The room should say, ‘We’re here to play.’”



All American Recreation, 5420 Manitou Rd., Tonka Bay; 952.474.6666

Steel Toe Brewing, 4848 W. 35th St., St. Louis Park; 952.955.9965

KBI Design Studios, 4800 Sunnyside Rd., Edina, 612.385.1456