House Tour: Steve's Mancave

House Tour: Steve's Mancave

Gregory Han
Feb 20, 2009

Name: Steve
Location: Sydney, Australia
Size: 650 sf (including mezzanines)
Years lived in: Rented for 6 years, owned 6 month


Normally we write a short blurb about our own impressions of a home we've been invited to house tour. But considering Steve resides thousands miles away and has also been so kind to provide a summary of his own, we're going to let Steve tell you all about his unique "man cave":

Steve, a reclusive failed novelist, rented his warehouse apartment in Sydney's inner city suburb of Surry Hills for five years before buying it six months ago. His previous house was an ultra-modern architect designed abode. It was too light, bright and guest-friendly for Steve but he liked the openness. So after he purchased his new old apartment, he knew exactly what he wanted to do - knock out all the walls, paint it as dark as possible, and retreat into it at the end of the day like a cranky bear. Architecturally, one could say that many of the finishes were left raw to reveal the underlying structures and beams, but in truth it was just too hard to reach them...


Lacking much of a social life, Steve likes to watch movies on the big screen, so the cave-like qualities come in handy. Black hides dirt too, which is nice.

The apartment has an unusual shape and as he wanted to be able to view the screen from both the bed-sized main lounge and from bed, the basic layout was obvious. It is completely open with a simple sleeping platform accessed via an industrial ladder. The mezzanine can be shielded with black silk curtains to create a cave within a cave. He frequently falls off it onto the black concrete floors, but says the consequent blood spatters create an interesting effect.

The mancave is very adaptable. The kitchen cabinets, entertainment console, speakers, wardrobe and main lounge are all on castors and can be rolled around to hide stains (and spatter) on the floor or to create a new layout. Likewise, most of Steve's art collection can be moved on a whim. When not watching movies or Benny Hinn, the projector and screen are used to display a slideshow of over 600 works of degenerate art.

Steve hates clutter, and so has hidden storage for all his worldly goods and most of his chattels. He knows he has too many chairs and feels ashamed of this.

AT Survey:

My/Our style: Post-Modern Minimalist Industrial Mancave.

Inspiration: I'm a fan of minimalists such as John Pawson and Tadao Ando and I also like caves, so it made sense to combine my loves.

Favorite Element: The very high ceilings and original beams. There may actually be some bats hidden up in the crevices. Certainly there is bat guano.

Biggest Challenge: Storage. I ended up doing a very long 'kitchen' which segues into general storage and then a home office area. Fortunately, I found space above the bathroom which is ideal for bulky things and for hiding dead bodies.

What Friends Say: I'm not very sociable, so few people have seen it. Usually they just close the door and tip-toe away.

Biggest Embarrassment: The bathroom. I haven't redone it properly. Instead I just painted everything. I even spray painted the toilet black. This makes it embarrassingly hard to find at night.

Proudest DIY: I did most of it myself and thus am surprised that the kitchen cupboards haven't fallen off and that the speakers work. But my favourite bit is the floors. After pulling up the carpet to reveal a crappy slab, I pondered resurfacing it. Then, after a few drinks, I just decided to slather black stain on it and see what happened. The result is something that looks like the result of years of abuse, rather than an afternoon's drunkenness.

Biggest Indulgence: The whole place is an indulgence, albeit quite a cheap one at around $20K for everything

Best advice: It's easier to remove things than it is to build them.

Dream source: I'd like to have everything custom made



Appliances (all from eBay):

  • Smeg oven
  • Omega Cooktop and rangehood
  • Underbench wine chiller


  • Ikea Udden Kitchen and Entertainment units with castors added
  • Ikea Mandal Wardrobewith Ikea stainless steel side panels and castors added
  • Lockers are from eBay then spray painted
  • Mezzalad ladder

Furniture (All were purchased from eBay or consignment stores):

  • Bed-sized knock-off B&B Italia Charles lounge with added castors
  • B&B Italia Lunar sofa bed
  • Vitra Panton S, Ron Arad Plastic Fantastic Elastic & Tom Vac, Starck La Marie and Hi Glob, Bertoia Diamond, Walter Knoll Vostra chairs
  • Moooi Container table
  • Vintage triple school desk
  • George Nelson Platform Bench
  • Green Kartell Componibili

Mickey Mouse money box from eBay


  • Arco lamp from eBay
  • Foscarini Blob lights from Ambiente Direct
  • Spare Lamp from
  • Metalarte Zen lamp
  • Lumina Multi-X lamp
  • Industrial fixtures from eBay
Artbox wall lamps from
  • Ikea Dolmen under cabinet lights

Dulux (ICI) Drive Time

Black stained concrete

Rugs and Carpets:
All from eBay

Window Treatments:
Blackout Blinds from eBay


  • Ikea mattress
  • Silk Curtains from Dharma Trading


  • Karel Appel print
  • Jean Dubuffet prints
  • Judith Supine prints
  • Bast Prints
  • Ben Frost stencil
  • Original Chinese Propaganda poster
  • Weird Critter by Tez
  • Puppy by Jeff Koons
  • Joaquin Torres-Garcia Aladdin figures
  • All other works created by owner

(Thanks, Steve!)


Photos by Steve

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