Comfort Zone

Photography by Stephanie Russo
man cave

A garage is transformed into a stylish haven for a busy professional.

Interior Design: Design Alchemy
Contractor: Dyer Construction

DESIGNER KRISTINE RENEE of Sacramento-based Design Alchemy proves that a man cave needn’t be a dimly lit chamber where the focal point is a Kegerator. It can instead be a super-functional space that exudes charm and style.

Renee’s clients—an emergency room physician who often works nights and his wife, who also works in health care—had already hired Design Alchemy for a major renovation to their main residence, which is located in East Sacramento. Once that project was complete, work began on converting their 800-square-foot double-car garage, which was already equipped with a small office and bathroom, into a swank retreat.

“The husband needed a place to unwind when he comes home late at night, a place to watch TV and hang out with friends,” Renee explains. “It’s also where he can work without interruption and overnight guests can sleep comfortably.”

The wife offered some general design direction—to create a space that was more masculine than the main house, with cooler tones and touches of leather and wood—but otherwise gave Renee free rein. “They totally trusted us with the vision, which is the best kind of client,” she says. “And she gave immediate feedback to all of our ideas, so the process went really smoothly.”


The modest assignment was a departure of sorts for the firm, which typically takes on large-scale projects with lavish budgets and bespoke furnishings. In this case, the furniture consists of carefully selected off-the-shelf items from major retailers. Unique accessories and artwork, such as tributes to the husband’s hometown of Chicago, were sprinkled in to personalize the space.

In the end, what the homeowners got was a smartly designed refuge that bears little resemblance to a man cave yet comes with all its requisite perks, including a simple but sophisticated kitchen, a compact bar area, a big-screen TV and an out-of-the-way place to jam on the guitar. “It’s such a nice space to relax in,” says Renee. “The homeowners were beyond happy when it was finished.”

For the kitchenette, Renee went with a striking cement tile backsplash in a pattern called Zuma by Cement Tile Shop. The Shaker cabinets are painted with Benjamin Moore Platinum Gray.


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