TSJ Interviews the Ultimate Man Cave Architect, Derek “Deek” Diedricksen


Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. We know. 

Micro-architect, carpenter, tinkerer, Derek “Deek” Diedricksen, got into the DIY shack game by building himself a hideaway in his parents’ yard so he could play video games… when he was a kid. But Deek, who also hosts a program for the DIY Network where he builds and designs some super over-the-top man caves, clearly never outgrew the need for a four-by-four backyard retreat. 

TSJ talked to Deek, the author of “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks” about how a dude can build his own getaway forts, cottages, and shacks and get away from it all, right at home.

The Smoking Jacket: Why do dudes crave man caves?

Deek Diedricksen: I don’t think its just dudes that need their escape caves, I think there are certainly many “woman caves” — work huts, sheds, hobby rooms, and female getaway spaces out there, too. But you do seem to find men more apt to have their refuges of independence. This probably has something to do with men being less social, or so I hear/am told, and wanting their own lone spaces that stand, even symbolically, as getaways, from everything.

I mainly escape to mine as the radon levels in my regular home are extremely high. No, not really…

TSJ: When someone says “man cave” I think of a basement, or a den. Why are these shanties/sheds/cottages man caves?

DD: Yeah, traditionally most people think of man caves as dank, redone basements, loaded with football memorabilia and cauldron-sized bowls of chip dip, but I think the little shelters and shanties that I design and build can and have been deemed a similar thing.

These little whimsical huts stand as escape pods from the rigors and BS of day to day life. Basically, they’re quiet places, with scenery, style, and even knick-knacks, geared to the specific individual- me, in this case. Problem is, my “micro man cave” focus, isn’t as much the content, but the caves, or shacks, themselves — I authored a book this year, “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks,”  that has about 60 concepts and models in this vein, and I’d love to build ‘em all — so I almost need a HUGE man cave, in which I can store and hang in these smaller man caves.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I probably should be medicated.

Man Cave

TSJ: What can a man do in his man cave clubhouse that he can’t do at home?

DD: Honestly, the sky is the limit. I’m sure these homes away from, or inside, homes are used for just about anything — and things I probably don’t want to know of, in some cases. Overall, the idea is to have a realm in which you’re in total control, have the full say in everything, and don’t have to answer to anyone.

You want to house a mega collection of Disney socks, ceramic fish platters, or Justin Bieber fan zines — hell, here’s your safe haven to do it — I wouldn’t blab to too many people about the Bieber mags though! Anyway, therein lies the beauty of a man cave… you’re the boss.

TSJ: Why is it important for dudes to have a hideaway?

DD: Sorry, I think I just answered that one above. More or less, not only the actual building and designing of man caves is part of the attraction, but its the actual and eventual spaces themselves. A good many guys are loners at heart, and I’m that way too to an extent, so I think having a place to disappear to can work wonders for keeping out of that “goin’ postal” mindset when life starts kickin’.

TSJ: Will the man cave phenom get dudes moving out of their mom’s basements and start living in the yard?

DD: Oh, I don’t know, zoning for now won’t allow that in many places, and in my personal experience, I’m pretty damn independent, so I’ve never really considered that anything like that might stem from it. I suppose living in some sort of private and separate out-building is leagues more appealing than living in mom and dad’s basement though- especially if these little huts were more like tiny houses in and of themselves, which could easily be done- just take these ideas and models, and build them on a slightly larger scale for full time living.


TSJ: Do you actually hang in your man caves? Which is your fave? What does the ladies (or your lady) think?

DD: I do. I work on my relaxshacks, blog in them, nap in them from time to time, play with my kids in them, eat lunch in them once in awhile, and have spent nights in them too.

My favorite is “The GottaGiddaWay,” one of the smaller ones I have, but “The Gypsy Junker” is the most popular with others overall. That one’s been in the NY Times, the homepage of Yahoo.com, featured on NPR, PBS, The Boston Globe, and beyond.

I have individual tour videos of each and every one of them, well except “The Lollipop Fort Of Death” (it looks like a teetering, dangerous, twelve-foot tall, lollipop) on my YouTube channel RelaxshacksDOTcom. You’ll find more than sixty videos there.

Note the djembay. Sometimes a guy’s got to drum. 

TSJ: Can any dude build a man cave?

DD: Heck, yeah — any person can. Carpentry isn’t rocket science, you just need to take the plunge, and the rest will follow. These micro man caves just may be the small-start project you need.



Check out some of XX’s man caves online: