The man cave comes of age

One UK homeowner has redefined the man cave by transforming his basement car park in to a fully automated, luxury entertaining space recognised as ‘Best Innovative Solution’ at the 2016 Crestron Integration Awards.

A so-called ‘man cave’ may be commonly found behind the doors of many of the high-end properties in the suburb of Bowdon in northwest England – but perhaps none quite like David Giovanni’s.

Entering a hidden door off the main hall of his six-bedroom home leads to an illuminated staircase descending into a unique space which defies all expectation of a basement. Creating the “ultimate” man cave was the idea etched in the mind of the client according to local automation specialists Ultamation and Intuitive Homes. The homeowner desired for the unexciting garage space in his modern gothic-styled mansion to be transformed into somewhere to impress when entertaining, which could also showcase his 470-bottle wine collection and prized supercar, a McLaren 650S Spider.

crestron mancave pool table with view of car and turntable

In the early stages of the project, plans for the man cave were fairly standard. “It originally started as an idea to use a little of our basement car parking space as a room to watch football and play pool,” recalls the homeowner. But the ideas proposed by The Design Practice by Uber inspired the client to take a leap of faith.

It was decided that Ultamation and Intuitive Homes would marry the Italian-inspired, clean design imagined by Simon Evans of interiors company Uber with discreet industrial motor controls and sensors to create a fully automated hideaway. The requirement for the versatile control system needed to make the vision a reality, coupled with using a Crestron control system throughout his home previously installed by Ultamation, made Crestron the clear choice. A technology enthusiast, the homeowner’s IT and business technology background led him to install a comprehensive automation system (overseeing lighting, heating, blinds and curtains, and security across 28 zones) when building his home four years ago, which he operates himself. Innovation spans every corner of the home, from the drop-down TV by his indoor/outdoor pool to his children’s fully connected treehouse.

The man cave’s showpiece is a spotlit Crestron-powered rotating turntable encasing the car within curved glass and leather. Interior designers and engineers from industrial controls company Turck Banner worked with Ultamation and Intuitive Homes to deliver the design feat, critically ensuring its circular ceiling above the turntable (weighing over a tonne) met health and safety requirements. The turntable is controlled by a Crestron 3-series processor, which offers the ability to rotate the car to pre-set positions or spin the car a full 360-degrees.

closeup of touchscreen for car in crestron mancave

crestron mancave mclaren sports car closeup

Bespoke lighting touches, such as a floor-to-ceiling display incorporating backlit quartz draws attention to bottles on display in his bar area, featuring a mirror TV and bespoke pool table. A unified entertainment system provides instant access to a 65-in Samsung TV, movies, music or automation of the car turntable. An HD distribution system was installed in the games room, with HiFi audio distribution throughout the space and over 15 sensors to facilitate additional features – including gate and garage door automation, ensuring that lighting, heating and AV systems are activated as soon as a car arrives in the driveway.

Magnetic flux vehicle detection sensors are fitted into the driveway underneath the garage floor to recognise when a vehicle has entered the garage and when it is parked. When a car arrives home, the environment adapts for the driver that has arrived home, for example, starting up their own pre-defined playlist of background music, changing to their preferred temperature or preparing the turntable. Sensors are positioned on every door in the man cave for added safety (as the turntable will not operate if the door is open), and also notify the owner of any potential issues, such as the door to his climate-controlled wine cellar door being left open. Audio in the lavish, metallic-styled bathroom is also automated to allow occupants to listen to music or sports commentary filtering through from the entertainment system in the bar area.

“Providing all of the safety features required to spin a £200k car inside what’s effectively a huge glass cylinder was one of a number of challenges presented by the project.”

“The project presented a number of challenges in the mix of sensors we needed to integrate – we have magnetic flux detectors set into the floor and laser range finders through to the control of the 0.75Kw drive motor for the turntable, and all of the safety features required to spin a £200k car inside what’s effectively a huge glass cylinder,” says Oliver Hall, managing director of Ultamation. “Crestron’s product range and programming flexibility meant we could accommodate all of this easily.”

He adds: “Automation comes into its own when the technology responds to things you do through your normal lifestyle without thinking, which is why the wealth of information we get from all of the sensors is able to drive the Crestron system to react in a truly intelligent way.” Ultamation and Intuitive Homes designed a custom user interface for the Crestron TSW touch panels using Smart Graphics control to create a bespoke “man cave” feel. The system is connected to the industrial controls of the turntable to show the exact rotational position of the car. With a simple swipe the car can be rotated to specific angles to show off its best side and when the system is not in use the vehicle will always come to rest pointing outwards, towards the garage entrance.

pool table and bar area in crestron controlled mancave in cheshire, UK

two sports cars parked in crestron controlled mancave

“We knew from the initial meetings that this was going to be an exciting project and a true ‘custom installation’. Whilst there are always challenges in delivering a unique solution, it simply wouldn’t have been possible without the power and versatility of the control system,” says Stephen Nevison, director of Intuitive Homes. “The functionality of the system on its own is amazing but the custom user interface is particularly special.”

The €430,000 (£500,000) project was completed after a 10-month period just in time for New Year’s Eve, and has since picked up accolades including ‘Best Innovative Solution’ at the Crestron Integration Awards and ‘Best Custom Solution’ at the CEDIA Awards. The homeowner is delighted with the result; “From initial concepts through to completion, the space has transformed into more than I could have hoped for and the level of automation and intelligent control adds genuine convenience, on top of the obvious wow-factor. It’s my own little Vegas.”


Bowers & Wilkins in-ceiling speakers

Crestron 24x6 multiroom amplifier, extended range RF Gateway, HD 4K TxRx Pair, IR emitter, light & motion detectors, temperature & humidity sensors and Smart Graphics 7-in & 10-in in-wall touchpanels

CYP digital co-ax to optical converter

Future Automation TV bracket and enclosure

Muxlab digital audio baluns

Planet Waves cables

Samsung 65-in TV

Ultamation DMX Controller

Images: The Design Practice by UBER