Ask Brian: What is a Great Man Cave DIY Project in Time for Christmas?



Ask Brian is a weekly column by Real Estate Expert Brian Kline. If you have questions on real estate investing, DIY, home buying/selling, or other housing inquiries please email your questions to askbrian@realtybiznews.com.

Question from Logan in Baltimore: Hi Brian, I love my wife and can’t believe she is letting me do this. Our oldest son moved into his first apartment last month and the younger one moved into the bigger bedroom. My wife and I have been talking about what to do with the small bedroom and she actually agreed to let me turn it into a man cave. The logic that put her over the top is that she has decorated every other room in the house and I deserve one for myself and my buddies. My two brothers will be coming over to celebrate Christmas and I want to be able to show off an outstanding man cave project. Do you have any imaginative DIY ideas that I can finish before Christmas?

Answer: Hi Logan. I know more than a few men who would appreciate a wife letting him turn a spare room into a man cave. You should be counting your blessings. In my humble opinion, a man cave should be a place where sports collectibles, half-finished projects, a giant TV (or two), and plenty of drinks all get along together.

My first choice would be putting in a kegerator. Nothing says man cave more than having your favorite cold beer on tap. But buying one ready to plug in can easily cost over $1,000 before you even buy the beer. Or you can build a kegerator yourself for less than $300. The two biggest expenses are a used compact refrigerator (less than $50) and a kegerator conversion kit (about $175 for a single tap). However, it probably requires more work to do the conversion than you originally think, so make sure you have at least 10 hours to commit to the project between now and Christmas.

The conversion kit will have instructions and a hotline to call if you need assistance but here are the basic steps.

  1. Purchase the conversion kit. This is a good place to start so that you know what you’ll need for a refrigerator.
  2. Find a used refrigerator. First, decide what size keg you are going to use so that you select a refrigerator with enough inside space. Look for one that doesn’t have a freezer compartment or you’ll have to take out the freezer and associated plumbing. It’s always a good idea to first read the conversion kit instructions because most of the kit needs to be installed inside the fridge along with the keg (including CO2 bottle, pressure regulator, gas lines, beer lines, and one or two disconnects). Generally, you’ll need a fridge with between 4.5 and 5 cubic feet. You can probably gain some extra space by removing the hardware inside of the door. A good place to start looking for a used compact refrigerator is on craigslist in a nearby college community.
  3. Partially disassemble the refrigerator after reading the conversion kit instructions. Typically, you’ll need to take off the door, remove internal hardware, and remodel the top of the refrigerator where the tap mounts. You might also need to relocate the thermostat and light.
  4. Locate and mark the existing cooling lines for the refrigerator. You need to know where these are so that you don’t cut them when drilling holes to install the conversion kit.
  5. Determine where to drill holes in the refrigerator. Make the holes large enough to accommodate two liquid lines that will run through the opening in addition to a 1-inch-diameter cooling line. A hole saw is usually the best tool for the job and this is when you want to be sure not to damage the refrigerator cooling lines.
  6. You might want to reinforce the top of the refrigerator before installing the tap and lines. When you pull on the tap to draw a cold beer, it acts as a lever on the top of the fridge, which is why it’s a good idea to add reinforcement. Some old barn wood will add a nice touch to your man cave but a piece of ½” plywood will do the job.
  7. You should be ready to install the conversion kit hardware and tap. One other consideration is installing an air circulation fan to help chill the keg evenly.
  8. That’s about it. Go get a cold keg of beer, put it in your kegerator, and draw a cold one to enjoy while you admire your work.

Logan, there are a few DIY accessories that naturally go with your kegerator. You can use a glass-cutter to cut off the top of a few old beer bottles to turn them into beer mugs. Another idea is cutting out the logo from a few cardboard six-pack holders that can be laminated and used as coasters with the beer bottle mugs. Enjoy and Merry Christmas to you and your brothers! Don’t forget to get your wife a really nice Christmas gift.

Let’s hear your man cave DIY ideas. Please add comments.

Our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions or inquiries to askbrian@realtybiznews.com.

Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 12 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, near a national and the Pacific Ocean.