A bachelor pad for the modern man of the house
Crossing over to the dark side with the modern man's bachelor pad
It's important not to be driven by stereotypes. Back when my now husband first moved in with me I just assumed he'd be useful for moving heavy furniture and carrying in the coal.
But I discovered that his greatest domestic talent is flower arranging. He's resistant to traditionally male tasks like clearing the gutters, but give him a bunch of blooms and he can make it look amazing.
This notion helped me to look beyond the clichés of masculine design because not every man hankers for a testosterone-heavy bachelor pad. Take the leather sofa for example. It's one of the male design classics, but not all men like them. When you fall asleep on a leather sofa, a close male relative informs me, the drool tends to pool under your cheek. He prefers fabric sofas because they offer soakage.
That said, there are defined masculine themes within interiors. "For a start there's a major difference in materials," says Laura Farrell, interior designer. "Men tend to like wood, stone and leather. They're not afraid of negative space and they tend not to go for accessories unless they have a purpose. Everything has to have a function.
"Colours tend to be darker - mahogany, tobacco, claret - and they're not as frightened of black as women are. They can be bolder in their overall interior design scheme and they're not afraid of making a statement. Women tend to play it safe with soft edges and cream."
Men, she finds, are willing to spend on technology and lighting. "They understand the home as more of a machine than a nest. They get hung up on centralised remote control systems and are happy to pay for a big flat screen television but baulk at the price of a good quality duvet cover."
When working for male clients, Farrell has to push for details like storage space for sheets and towels. "There's an element of domestic practicality that men don't seem to understand or to want to understand. But it does vary between clients. If a man is a natty dresser he'll be happy to make room for a closet."
In a recent project for a male client who lives in an apartment, she designed an elliptical unit that can be used as a desk or for dining, but that also conceals storage.
The two-metre long unit is made of teak, which she describes as "the aftershave of interior design" with leather strap handles. Above it, a patchwork of bevel-edged mirrors creates an impression of a larger space, and the walls are painted a trendy off-black. In the living room, the biggest spend was on the curtains. "I wanted them to look tailored, like a grey Chanel suit, but they ended up looking a bit S&M." The bedroom wallpaper, pale blue with textured natural hemp, was inspired by a man's chambray shirt. "I did buy him cushions," Farrell admits. "And I talked him into getting an upholstered headboard."
"Men are often drawn to the aesthetic of the gentlemen's club interior," says Helen Leigh Jones, design director of DFS. Imagine a dimly-lit room with dark wood panelling, moulded plaster ceilings and Chesterfield-type upholstery. It's a look that's nostalgically modelled on Victorian clubs, which were stuffy and over-furnished.
The modern interpretation is plainer and more industrial with classic sofas and chairs combined with contemporary lighting, bare floorboards, and unpainted walls.
DFS recently commissioned Róisín Lafferty of Kingston Lafferty Design to style a house on Henrietta Street, Dublin 1, in the style they describe as "Gentleman's Club". The project was photographed by Barbara Corsico. It shows the Fete Maxim dining chair from DFS (€655) on a landing beside a reproduction of Michelangelo's David and the Zinc Cuddler Sofa (€1,589) beneath a painting by the Irish artist Daniel Henson. The industrial style lighting is from French Connection and includes the Spun dome floor lamp (€240). In general, brass and other metallics sit comfortably with leather upholstery, either vintage or new.
In the living room, a button back Chesterfield-style Liberty Sofa from DFS (€2,899) is positioned alongside a nest of contemporary glass side tables (€322.50), also from French Connection. The sofa is in navy leather and Leigh Jones describes it as having a "heritage look", an "old-school male trend" with traditional design detailing.
It's a look that can be claustrophobic but is lifted by clever use of empty space, industrial style furniture and contemporary artwork like the large scale print by Lola Donoghue, a young Irish artist who lives and works in Galway. Her work is available on Esty where her prints cost between €80 and €106. The accessories are from April And The Bear. No bulls were harmed in the creation of the wall-mounted faux bull skull (€305) but it's a subtle reference to macho hunting culture.
The florescent pink pig (€201) is an award winning design by Harry Allen. Men don't really do accessories, but I can vouch for the pig. I live with three blokes and we have a pink plastic pig accessory too. It definitely has male appeal. The only difference is that ours cost €2 and squeaks when you squeeze it.
For more information see email@example.com or 087 6954758; dfs.ie; frenchconnection.com; kingstonlaffertydesign.com; etsy.com/shop/loladonoghue; aprilandthebear.com; furniturevillage.co.uk; argos.ie