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I was recently introduced to Fashion for Home, an online modern furniture and accessories store based in the UK. Even though I’m not able to shop here in the U.S., I was drawn to the store’s modern masculine style. I said from the very beginning of our downsizing journey that I was leaning towards a slightly more masculine aesthetic for this house. thought it would be fun to share ideas for incorporating a masculine feel into any space. First, though, let me address what my idea of masculine is not.

In my world, masculine isn’t only for males. It’s not a sparse bachelor pad. It’s not a dark man cave. It’s not a sports themed room. It’s not a trophy room. It’s an aesthetic that anyone, male or female alike, can work into their home if they choose to. It’s all about comfort, ease, simplicity, practicality. Here are my tips for making it masculine:

1 – Keep it simple. Whether you’re contemplating something little such as a lamp or something more prominent like a furniture arrangement, choose the less complicated version. For the lamp, clean and straight lines fit the bill. Think tripod lamp. For the furniture layout, place two chairs opposite a sofa and call it a day. It’s all about no fuss. Avoid intricate or elaborate designs. Filigree, fringe and floral are examples of more feminine designs.

2 – Less is more. Purge! Keep only what you need and love. Stick with the basic furniture pieces and add minimal accent pieces. For example, if you have a coffee table in front of your sofa, do you really need to flank the sofa with two end tables? Or if you like the idea of two end tables then maybe skip the coffee table. Keep clutter and accessories to a minimum. Opt for one large canvas painting as opposed to a frame-filled wall. Or adorn a dining table with one oversized vase as opposed to several smaller vases. Corral items you do keep in a simple bookcase for a unified look.

3 – Bigger is better. Choose large scale pieces as opposed to daintier options. For example, a sectional with clean lines would be a more masculine choice than a settee with curvy legs. Be careful. You want to keep the proportion of your large scale pieces in sync with the size of your space. Use the largest size that your room will allow without it hogging literal and visual space. You still need to be able to move around comfortably. Supersizing goes for accessories and patterns as well. Lean a tall floor-length mirror against a wall or use a rug with wide stripes in a family room. Even though you have less items {see #2}, the items you do incorporate will have more presence.

4 – Go neutral. Warm whites, taupe, charcoal, heather gray, deep navy, saddle brown and black are great masculine colors for furniture, textiles and walls. Purchasing mainstay items in a neutral color is practical. It allows you to switch out accessories {pillows, fresh flowers, artwork, etc.} when the mood strikes – at little cost.


5 – Play with contrast. To keep things from becoming boring or sterile, mix materials, colors and textures. Use a warm wood mirror in an all white tiled bathroom. Place a glossy white coffee table in front of a worn leather sofa. Spread a plush textured rug onto a shiny wood floor. Separate matching upholstered chairs with a rustic side table. Use an array of materials: wood, stone, glass, metal, natural fibers. Likewise, if your walls are light {white or gray} go with at least one piece of furniture in a darker color {charcoal, saddle brown, black}. In a bedroom consider cozy taupe walls and white bedding.

6 – Comfort rules. Choose furniture and fabrics that encourage lounging. Opt for deep-seated sofas and clean-lined chaises. Forget satin, silk and lace and choose soft cotton, breathable linen, worn leather {faux or real} or fluffy sheepskin {again, faux or real} instead. Making your space comfortable doesn’t only benefit you but guests as well. Create a casual environment for you, your family and friends.

7 – Get outdoorsy. Bring the outdoors in with a branch display or a rustic bench. Keep window coverings spare to allow views to the outside. Add skylights or glass doors and watch the natural light pour in. Things should feel as easy and casual inside as they do outside.

There you have it. My take on masculine style. Of course, you can take it as far as you want. The more you tips you apply, the more masculine the look. The less tips you apply, the less masculine the look. I love the idea of mixing in a little femininity here and there to keep things interesting.

I’m incorporating all of these ideas to some extent in my own home. My furniture arrangements are practical and simple which works well in our small space. I’ve edited our belongings – from clothing to toys to furniture and everything in between – down to only the things we use frequently and love. We built a huge 9′ island in our modest eat-in kitchen. Our kitchen is black and white. Our family room sofa is saddle brown leather. The majority of our walls are painted a light beige-gray. We have a mix of walnut and granite countertops in our kitchen. Our sofa is extra-long and deep-seated for comfy lounging. We added skylights and french doors to bring in more natural light. My long-term goal for our house is for it to feel like a well-worn pair of jeans and comfy t-shirt. Easy, casual, effortless.

Do you have any other tips for making a space feel masculine? Share!

This post brought to you by Fashion for Home. However, all thoughts and words are my own.

images: Fashion for Home

13 Comments

03.August.2012

Cool explanation! I love a mix of both when decorating my home! :) I feel like the feminine decor tend to go in and out of style more quickly. So from a cost perspective I tend to buy more masculine big ticket items and then add in my feminine decor choices on the more affordable and easier replaced items!

I LOVE that you sorted and purged all your items and simplified your furniture, clothes, decor! I need to do the same around here but, I’m having a hard time narrowing down what to get rid off! Any tips on how to decide what to keep and what to donate or sale! I’m sentimental when it comes to kid artwork, kid toys, kid clothes = too much stuff (I use the excuse that I love it all). But, really having too much stuff in our home makes me feel overwhelmed. How do I choose what is the most essential items when it comes to sentimental kid stuff! I also struggle w/ paper work clutter so I’d love to hear about your kitchen office systems and how you tame the school paperwork clutter and bills and mail, etc!

I think there has been a trend in America the past 30 years to believe that Bigger = Better (whether it is bigger soda sizes, bigger homes, bigger food portions, bigger cars). I LOVE that you are doing what few people think to do till they are retired: downsizing! I’d love to downsize my family of 5 but, first I need to start purging and prove to my husband that we really could get by in a smaller home.

My parents downsized at retirement 5 years ago and they sold a huge home and moved into a garden lot (small lot) home that is just barely under 2000 sq feet. Their home has a spot for everything and everything in its spot. They have been able to redo the kitchen, bathroom, flooring (much like you have in your home). They have lived in homes much bigger but, this is their very favorite home and I agree smaller can be much better! My Mom loves that she only clean 2 bathrooms and she loves the custom bookshelves and custom kitchen! :)

I’d love to know how life in the smaller home is with three young kids! We have three young kids and I’d love to hear the good and the bad about downsizing your square footage! I’m feeling pulled that way! How did ya’ll come to this decision!?!

Love your blog!

~ Ali

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replied on August 4th, 2012

Great question! I’m afraid the answer is too long for the comments field. Maybe I could address it in a future post?

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replied on August 7th, 2012

Sounds great! :) I’ll look forward to post on these questions one of these days! I really enjoy your blog, your decor style, and your thoughts! :) Can’t wait to hear more down the road!

~ Ali

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03.August.2012

I love this, “My long-term goal for our house is for it to feel like a well-worn pair of jeans and comfy t-shirt”. In trying to find my own style, I find that I am always drawn to that comfortable, worn in feel. I love simple, somewhat minimalistic, but sometimes that can come off cold and stark. I am trying to marry comfort with minimilistic.

May I ask where you purchased your leather couch?

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replied on August 4th, 2012

This is our sofa here. I bought it online at chairs1000 but I’ve seen in on other sites since then. You could probably just google the name of the sofa to get the best deal. A review of the sofa is on my to-do list. It’s coming!

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03.August.2012

How timely! My boyfriend just moved in with me a few months ago and I have been thinking about this very subject. I never was too “girly” in my decor, but it does help to see you points for achieving a masculine vibe all laid out. I have sorted and purged and simplified in general and I love it. The one I am having a hard time with is staying neutral. I LOVE color! My furniture is all antique wood from my grandparents – again, not girly, carved wood, but nice straight lines, simple American style – and my couch has two slipcovers, one cream linen for summer and one chocolate brown chenille for winter. So, the walls are where I play with color. We are in the process of of repainting the living room and I am really wanting to do it in a rich teal (SW Peacock Plume or Behr Hallowed Hush). What do you think? My trim is all creamy white and the floors are natural oak. The house is a 1946 cottage, so definitely more feminine than say, a loft with timbered ceilings or even a house with natural TVG fir trim.

The things I would like to add would be a skosh more metal/industrial elements and a piece or two of MCM furniture, so it does not feel like “grandma’s house” with all the antique good furniture. This kind of mixing is both exciting to me but also proving challenging to get just right.

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replied on August 4th, 2012

I think a rich teal could go masculine or feminine. With your oak floors and cream trim, I’d say go for it as long as the room receives enough natural light! I think the cream linen slipcover for your sofa would be a better contrast to the teal than the chocolate slipcover. If you enjoy more color but have a lot of masculine pieces, why not paint one or two a bright hue?? A pop of lime, red, yellow or even hot pink could be fun without being too in your face {like a lime wall might}. Your home and antique furniture sound lovely. Best of luck!

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03.August.2012

I’m a big fan of masculine style also. I loved your illustration of a comfy t-shirt and worn jeans. I’d take that a step further with a worn leather jacket and studded belt. In other words, industrial elements (a galvanized barn light) and worn texture (a leather chesterfield). Yummy. Great post!

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replied on August 4th, 2012

Industrial elements and worn texture…yes! Two other great elements for making a space masculine.

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06.August.2012

Great post! I second and third what everyone has said. I had no idea I tended towards masculine until I read this post. I am not a “Filigree, fringe and floral” kind of gal. Horribly so, my home (or wardrobe) does not reflect my true taste. My life up until now has really revolved upon what is on sale, clearance, gifted or handed down. I also an not a natural purger but live with one and I am still learning how to let things go. I am starting to ask myself “will I really use it” or regarding shopping “would I buy this item if it weren’t on sale” I think a post detailing your skill set in that area would be great. I have two small children ( 3 and 1.75) and am trying to get a better grip in this area so I can become more efficient at home and work yet do it with style.

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Good perspective on masculinity. We may try to incorporate some of these elements in our home office when redo it. I would also like to add that the addition of an empty KFC bucket and a couple empty beer bottles also adds that distinct “a dude lives here” look. :)

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06.August.2012

There is indeed an american site for this shop. Im in the UK and I pulled up the american site by mistake one day…I think it may be .com, rather than .co.uk.

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replied on August 6th, 2012

Awesome! Thanks for sharing. Hear that U.S. residents? Just use fashionforhome.com to shop! Wahoo.

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