Home & Garden

Man cave madness

It’s easy to throw a dart at the term “man cave.” But some Kansas City residents have gone all-out to create sanctuaries that are artistic, clever, charming and full of passion and personality. Here’s how the caves reflect the men:

Bruce’s palace

Description: Part of the reason Bruce Hubert made a man cave was to turn his Kansas City, Mo., home’s unfinished basement into a less-scary space for his wife, Arlene. Mission accomplished. Ceiling joists and concrete floors are left exposed. There’s a 200-gallon aquarium, a 70-inch television, a pool table, a dart board, a bar, a hockey table, a train set, and 1:24- and 1:32-scale racetracks with hand-painted pit crews and lights for racing.

Decor: The coolest aspect of Hubert’s man cave is he made much of it by hand. He spent weeks crafting, feather by feather, an eagle that’s the focal point above the bar. He hand-rolled sculpted grapes for a vine that surrounds the bar. He sculpted an octopus flanking the aquarium and the Greek ruins inside the tank. And he made a snake surrounding the dart board. He’s also built miniature versions of Arrowhead Stadium, Kauffman Stadium and Union Station and artwork for the walls: Egyptian-style masks, paintings of playing cards and a jazz scene.

Hubert, who’s always wearing a smile, used to be a greeter at Costco.

“Word got out that I’m kind of handy,” he said. “Now I work maintenance.”

Next up for Bruce’s Palace: an interior water garden where he can keep baby koi from his outdoor water garden in the winter.

Hubert hangs out in the room two to three hours a day, and it’s always the spot where friends and family go during parties.

“I’ve heard family remark, ‘Uncle Bruce is a genius,’ ” he said. “I don’t think that, but I do know I love my hobbies, and I’m never bored.”

John’s Garage Mahal

Description: John Stuerke’s man cave is a 50-by-30 detached garage with reclaimed-wood siding interior walls and a tin ceiling from a barn he deconstructed. The floors are shiny clear-coat concrete. This cave has a 52-inch plasma TV shadowed by a large mounted elk. “Of course I only hunt at auctions,” says Stuerke, owner of One Call Lawn Care in Kansas City, Mo.

Decor: Vintage signs galore — including 1950s Kansas City restaurant menus and lighted beer advertisements — dot the walls and ceiling. Furnishings include two sofas: One is a converted rear quarter and trunk of a 1967 Chevy Impala. The 8-foot-tall Frankenstein is only upstaged by a flying mannequin.

Stuerke has hosted many events in his cave, including a sumo wrestling birthday party, a wedding rehearsal dinner and many University of Missouri games on the big screen. Even zydeco musician Chubby Carrier has played there.

“It’s my Mississippi juke joint tucked into south Kansas City,” he said.

Dan’s Cove

Description: Dan Uche of Kansas City built his outdoor man cave in 2009 after his wife, Marcy, asked him to build her a pergola to cover part of their backyard patio. A small group of friends helped build the shack-style man cave out of spare parts, including metal railings salvaged from Uche’s dining room. Uche’s friends worked for beer and food, which must have been pretty good, because the results are charming. Note: Uche, executive chef for the Bristol in Leawood, brews his own beer.

Uche’s “cove,” as he calls it, includes two bars, two full beer coolers, cable television, a sound system, side shutters, ceiling fans, pergola and an attached deck.

“I feel like when I’m in here, I’m on vacation in the Bahamas or Jamaica,” Uche said.

Decor: Beer and liquor memorabilia, neon and an ever-evolving collection of favorite beer bottles from the many tastings the Uches host. When the weather cools, they put down the shutters, crank up the propane heaters and light the chimeneas.

“We watched nearly every football game through December out here,” Uche said. “One of the bonuses is that my next-door neighbor has a man cave as well, and if we run out of beer at one place, we can always go next door.”

Some of Uche’s favorite details about his cave are the clocks. There’s one his daughter gave them that’s missing a hand. “I’ll tell guests it’s 7-ish if they ask.” And there’s a 1985 World Series clock that’s off by a few hours. But at least it gauges how much time is spent in the cave.