Having been married a long time, I've come to the conclusion that there are only 2 kinds of people in the world - men and women. Some may disagree, but my personal experiences living with the opposite sex have taught me a lot of things both wonderful and frustrating. Having heard from many other women in relationships and seeing the similarities and commonalities of our experiences and observations, my arguably sweeping generalization seems more true than not.
Years ago I heard that IKEA was considering onsite couples counselling for customers who cannot find common ground whilst shopping. I wonder what happened to that great idea. Whether in store or in the privacy of our homes, design sensibilities can often differ and alienate:
- men love their paneling; women would love them painted.
- men love dark wood; women would paint it if they could.
- men go to hardware stores; women go to house wares stores.
- women are Pinterest obsessed; men are obsessed with tool catalogues.
- she shed or man cave?
- girls want Barbie, boys dream about comic action figures.
- Women are from Venus, men are from Mars...
What comes to mind when you look at this room? Men's den, right? What are the elements that give us that impression? The millwork, wood trim and fireplace surround are all dark wood. The monochromatic wall covering is very safe and neutral. Emphasis on the big screen TV and the dark leather sofa sans cushions are also clear indications that this is a man's domain.
Here is another man's den. Looks like a room in a hunting lodge home. It's dark and calm. Although many men do not like wallpaper, this one is quite traditional to suggest an old pub or manor home. The animal head and antlers are also such obviously masculine and natural elements. Again there is a dark, leather sofa with very sedately patterned cushions. They look to be there for more utilitarian purposes rather than just for decoration. The healthy collection of alcohol in the cabinet also suggest men's club. There must be some aged scotch or cognac or port there. Where is the obligatory humidor?!
How's this for a shocking contrast?! You can't mistake this room for a man cave! Did someone just turn on the lights?! All the shiny surfaces such as glass, mirror and chrome reflect beautifully in this light, airy space. The room is full of very tactile objects such as the fluffy throw, soft cushions, delicate flowers and cozy rug. The strong infusion of pinks dominate the mainly white room. There are many small objects and accessories. Are the homeowners trying too hard? Are there too many ingredients to spoil a good broth?
Here is another very feminine living room. Wow, I find this one very bubble gummy! It is a beautifully curated room, however a little too full-on for my taste. Aside from the over saturation of pink tones, the delicate ceiling fixtures add to that delicate feel of the room. Also the 2 small console table lamps are small in scale, giving us the impression that this room design was geared for feminine tastes. The rounded furniture and cushions are also add to that feeling. The vivid floral chairs allow for the room to have some texture and added interest. Overall, this is just too much pink for me. A masculine person wouldn't feel very comfortable here.
Here we are back at the hunting lodge, this time in his bedroom. The space is calm and cozy and definitely masculine. The straight lines of the canopy bed frame strongly emphasizes that tone. I love the hide rug and tufted settee. This is a room to feel warm and protected and wonderful in, for a beautiful night sleep. Does it feel like a strong man's arms are wrapped around her? Perhaps this is becoming too much of a Harlequin romance in bedroom design?!
Hello austere design! Here is the sleeping quarter for a man about town. It's urban chic with unmistakable masculine lines. There is no fuss anywhere. The only really warm element in this room is the wood flooring. There is no art, no extra pillows for fluffing. The concrete look on the walls give an austere feeling. I'm not sure how comfortable this room would feel for me. It's definitely geared for him.
Here is a bedroom fit for a princess. The delicate pastel coloured wallpaper is the perfect backdrop to the feminine feel of this room. The ornate bed frame emphasizes the mood. I may not love the carved wood headboard but the overall feel of this room is calm, perfect for a good night sleep. And the wall covering on just one wall is perfectly restrained.
Wow, am I looking through rose coloured glasses again?! All the furnishings may not be very fussy, but I suppose the pinky hues make this room feel very girly. The soft furnishings are rounded. The Empire style bench at the foot of the bed echoes the curves of the headboard. The small drop chandeliers are delicate but not too bossy. Perhaps if the colouring was more neutral, this room would feel more appealing. And despite the warmth of colour, this room feels somehow soulless.
What do you think about this living room? I love this space. It's calm and interesting and very welcoming. It's neither too masculine nor too feminine. It's just a little formal but a comfortable space. Aside from the slightly ornate mirror, all of the other elements speak to everyone. The dark paneled walls offset the light and airy sofa. Lines are straight. The room is not busy but nicely textured for warmth.
Here is another living space with dramatic contract yet still cohesive and gender neutral. The traditional dark paneling nicely offsets the light carpet and sofas. It could be a comfy man's den but light and airy enough to be welcoming for her. Most of the lines are straight and the room is not over decorated with accessories or large pieces of furniture. This room strikes such a nice balance.
I love this bedroom because of its use of natural materials like the grass cloth wall covering and chevron pattern rug. The floor covering reminds me of men's suiting or a warm, woolly sweater. Although the room is fairly monochromatic, there is still interest with a splash of pink throw and decorative shams and interesting roof lines.
I love this cabin in the woods bedroom with splashes of colour. The natural elements like wood paneling and wood flooring add so much warmth. The orange throw looks hand knitted. I can see anyone being able to enjoy this room design. The curtains are neutral design and dark to nicely frame the large window. The cheery and colourful cushions and small mirrors are the only adornments the space. It's simple and warm.
Honestly how you decorate your space is up to you. No visitor has to love it nor approve of it. Add splashes of whatever you'd like. If all the members of the household feel good in your home, there is no need to change it. But if anyone is feeling a bit left out, look towards neutralizing your spaces in subtle ways to keep things welcoming for all. The best and only advice I repeatedly give to others, is no matter how you decorate, make sure you put yourself out there and make it personal, make it your own and let's see you reflected in your homes.