When it comes to high-end homes in the DC area, multicar garages and showstopping kitchen appliances have been standard accoutrements for years. Recently, however, luxury home buyers have been seeking a new type of amenity: the man cave. And for homes in the upper price brackets, it takes more than a pool table and a flatscreen television to create a truly impressive gentleman’s retreat. Surround-sound systems, full-service bars, and custom-designed garages are just a few of the features attracting discriminating buyers in Greater Washington. We dug deep into the local real estate listings to showcase a few notable havens in the region.
Our tour starts in Virginia, where two houses boast features that are sure to please. The first is a home at 505 Innsbruck Avenue in Great Falls, with a four-car garage perfect for weekend mechanics. The real estate agent representing the sellers, Penny Yerks of Sotheby’s International Realty, explains, “I have been listing properties for 30 years, and I have never seen a garage such as this. The house came with a three-car garage, but the owner is a car fanatic—he built an additional four-car garage and had a hydraulic lift installed so he could work on his antique car.” The newer garage comes with a surround-sound system already installed and an unfinished upper level that can easily be turned into living quarters, a home office, or more space for luxuriating. Located down a private road, the property is set on five acres, has a pool and tennis court, and borders an eight-acre lake.
For those who prefer a more laid-back man-cave experience, the next home may be just right. Located off Route 123 in McLean is this six-acre estate with an expansive billiard room on the main level of the primary house (two other guesthouses are also on the property). The stone fireplace adds to the space’s character, and five large windows let in enough light to make the space warm and inviting. The outdoor area is also a dream for sports lovers, who will find a baseball diamond and a field large enough to hold a regulation-size soccer game, as well as an inground pool and sunken tennis courts surrounded by stacked stone that Washington Fine Properties listing agent Mark McFadden describes as similar to what you would find in the Hamptons. “What is most noteworthy about this property,” says McFadden, “is that it’s on six acres, [and] just two traffic lights away from DC. That’s rare. All the other lots [in this subdivision] are one acre.” The stately home belonged to the late Joe Robert, a prominent McLean businessman, and is located at 1288 Ballantrae Farm Drive, the same neighborhood in which Colin Powell and Caspar Weinberger previously bought homes.
Near downtown Bethesda is the nine-bedroom, 11-bath home at 5104 Moorland Lane. An indoor exercise room overlooks a sports court that can host basketball, volleyball, badminton, and lacrosse games, and is equipped with a sound system; the house also features an in-home movie theater. But perhaps most impressive of all is the downstairs game room, which has enough space for a billiard table and a plentiful seating area. The space is equipped with a full commercial bar, an antique that was salvaged from a Parisian hotel and shipped to the US by boat. Listing agent Sherry Davis of Washington Fine Properties says, “Everyone who goes downstairs is impressed, but especially the men. They just keep saying, ‘Oh my goodness, oh my goodness,’ as they walk through the downstairs.”
So it seems the most impressive man caves possess a few common features: There must be something to do—play basketball, sip a cocktail, or watch television. And there must be room for a crowd. Last, and perhaps most important, it has to be a place his friends will envy.