Designing for men

Just wondering, is it considered sexist to talk about “designing for men”? I wrote this article for the Calgary Sun this week. I think a lot of the tips translate down to: men like things to look good and don’t buy shit. Um, so just like women? Should there be gender lines drawn between “design” and “man design?” I think the creation of the ubiquitous man cave has made it so; now we need professionals to tell us that our old junk doesn’t make for good design.

Anyway, I did write the article, so here it is – how to design for a man (or, if you are a man, how to design.)

Photo courtesy Decorating Den

When it comes to designing a man’s room, don’t think about a cave in the basement. What really makes designing work for men is quality, high-end furniture, warmth and textures. Men like their décor to be tasteful and comfortable.

“If you’re designing a ‘man cave,’ don’t make it a hodge podge of all the junk that has been stored in your basement,” says designer Adene Lucas, owner of Accent on Design. “Often more so than women, men tend to pay a lot more for quality furniture that will last. That means real wood, real leather, and make sure it’s real comfortable.”

According to Lucas, comfort does not have to be ugly, so try to avoid cup-holder recliners.

“Mix and match pieces and don’t get locked into one style,” she says. “Instead, focus on comfort, quality and timelessness and the room will last for a long time.”

If you must to a theme, such as a golf or hockey theme, don’t go overboard. “A theme can possibly work for a basement or an entertaining space but can’t be overdone and must be tasteful,” says Katie O’Dwyer, owner of Calgary’s Decorating Den. “Look at something where accessories could be added to capitalize on something the man enjoys doing, adding a personal touch.”

Lucas suggests veering away from themes entirely. “It has been done before,” she says. “If you do have memorabilia you want to show off, keep it to one wall only – otherwise the look is really tired.”

When it comes to the arrangement of the room, I’ll give you a big hint: it’s going to involve a TV. “The focal point is usually based on where the TV will be,” O’Dwyer says.

Men also have a tendency to push all furniture to the perimeter of the room, making one big space in the centre. Be aware of this and bring furniture more into the centre of the room, Lucas says. “This has the added bonus of freeing up wall space to highlight memorabilia.”

Look to the fabrics used to bring in warmth. “Warm up the room by incorporating patterns such as plaids, stripes, multi-directional prints and fabrics with texture,” O’Dwyer says. “A neutral colour palette, such as grey tones, works well when you add punches of colour with accessories or artwork.

“Other clever, functional things to incorporate into the design is storage to hide the remote controls and black-out drapery to eliminate glare when watching TV. A funky mirror can also add uniqueness to the room.”


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