The first thing that came to mind when I reached the second floor of Waterstone Products was, “Is that a pool table made of marble?”

The second thought (which I’m not that proud of) was, “How many firstborn sons do I need to trade for that?”

I don’t know what that says about me, but it’s probably best for both of us if we leave it unexamined.

Most people either have, or dream of having, a room to which they can escape. Often this is a loft, or a basement room that is part of, yet separate from, the rest of the house.

When this room is a basement, it is known as a “man cave”.

Owing to some unknown property of the universe, this name applies regardless of the chromosomal arrangement of its occupants.

Sadly, as Waterstone manager Yvonne Kinsey informed me, the pool table at the top of the stairs was not made of marble—merely a pearlescent white granite, offset by a deep red felt. How pedestrian.

Even more of a blow to the imaginary basement I was already installing it in was the price tag. Twenty-two. As in thousand. As in dollars.

Kinsey did tell me they were willing to be flexible on the price, which is nice. But no amount of financial yoga is going to get a student loan-indebted J-school grad into a table like that.

And the exchange rate on firstborn children isn’t what it used to be.

The Games Room at Waterstone Products, at the corner of Quartz and Industrial Road, features toys for various forms of escape PHOTO: Rick Massie www.rickmassie.com

To someone of greater means, however, that price might seem reasonable. Because the point of a man cave isn’t to fill it with practical things. It’s to fill it with a whole bunch of stuff you really like.

Basically, it’s an adult toy box, but bigger and with more rich mahogany panelling (unless you had an especially opulent childhood, in which case you probably bought the granite pool table and I envy you with an intensity so white-hot it would weld steel.)

Still, building the perfect retreat from the world isn’t just a matter of buying the most expensive stuff you can find and cramming it downstairs.

“It’s going to depend on your taste, and what you’re going to be doing there,” says Kinsey.

“Is it going to be TV-based? If you’re going to be entertaining with a pool table, space will be the issue. How big of a room do you have?”

The considerations for such a room go beyond this as well. Part of the joy of a man cave is being able to share (read: show off) the place with friends (read: jealous onlookers). They need to be considered.

How many people are you going to entertain normally? Is it going to be an all-inclusive room, or will there be spots for separate activities?

Essentially, what Kinsey tries to do is walk people through all the questions that come up when designing a room.

The idea that you need to think through major purchases/room designs seems obvious. Yet somehow, everyone has that one friend who was sure a full-size pool table was a great idea for their matchbox of a basement.

If you are that friend, I’m sorry, but a night spent putting holes in your drywall is not my idea of fun.

Despite the variation in tastes and available space, Kinsey does see some trends in what people like to install.

“We’ve done a lot of complete rec rooms. What they have done is have a pool table, dartboard and a bar. A lot of these were families, so you had a family space and a place for entertaining in the same room.”

Kinsey has also noticed that stained hardwood furniture and installations still tend to be the most popular, even if they can be more expensive than “modern” alternatives.

“Some of the pool tables are going for a more modern flair. We can access that more modern stainless-steel type of look, but we’re still going back to a lot of ‘den’ type stuff,” she says.

“The wood is almost timeless. You can update it, change accents to fit a room. But if you go with the modern, it’s modern all the time.”

The fathers of the world would probably like to point out at this stage that they have a major holiday coming up. And that they tend to like things made out of hardwood and leather.

Oh, and by-the-by, that they did happen to put all that effort into raising you, even though you may or may not have destroyed half their record collection by scratching them to hell when you were three (sorry, Dad.)

Even if you can’t get the old man a pool table that costs as much as a car, maybe keep in mind that he could use something to brighten up the downstairs.

Just make sure he didn’t think about trading you for the same table when he was your age (sorry, future child.)