Masculine In-Style

Masculine In-Style


To find out today’s trends in home décor, just pick up a men’s fashion magazine.

Classic menswear is inspiring the latest lines of fabrics and upholstery, from elegant pinstripes to preppy plaids. And masculine touches aren’t limited to textiles. “We’re seeing James Bond sophistication and spaces filled with over-scaled, comfortable furniture throughout the home,” says Los Angeles-based interior designer Lori Dennis, who presented this and other design trends at the 2012 Home Building & Remodeling Expo in Milwaukee.

Why are homeowners forsaking chintz and frills?

Rather than relegating design decisions to women, “more and more men are getting in on the act,” says interior designer Sharon McCormick, of Durham, Conn.

Manufacturers are taking note, she adds: “This fall’s fabrics have more masculine appeal than ever.”

Pinstripes call to mind the boardroom or ballpark. Paisley offers Western flair. Plaids, bolder stripes and precise geometrical patterns also are popular and associated with masculine tastes and pursuits.

The designs feel especially cozy for the fall and winter – retailer Crate & Barrel describes its Donegal chair collection as having a “big-coat feel.”

Textiles and leathers come in shades of brown with manlier names than chocolate or mocha – cigar, peat and coffee.

However, these palettes and patterns don’t alienate women, which helps account for their broad appeal. “I personally own a tailored herringbone-patterned sofa in chocolate brown with black piping,” says interior designer S.A. “Sam” Jernigan. She says that Ralph Lauren “spring-boarded the men’s print trend into the mainstream” some years ago.

Though Ralph Lauren is hardly a symbol of frugality, the poor economy may have popularized his aesthetic. Initially, “Some of us responded by gravitating toward softer feminine looks to cocoon our way through tough economic times. Perhaps this re-emergence of stronger masculine looks indicates we’re wanting our spaces to reflect our own growing toughness,” says Jernigan, of Renaissance Design Consultants, serving California’s Sierra Nevada region.

Also due to the economy, “There’s a strong appeal to invest in classic looks when purchasing an item in the durable goods category,” Jernigan adds. “No men’s suiting element is going to look dated even 10 years from now, as these are patterns we’ve known and loved for generations and are also American icons of style and refined good taste.”

The popularity of mid-century modern design dovetails with the trend, though its clean lines and squared-off profiles look more like James Bond than Ralph Lauren, whose furnishings are more relaxed. “Mid-century modern isn’t specifically masculine, but it’s sleek and sophisticated and can give off a masculine vibe,” says interior designer Christine Markatos, based in Santa Monica, Calif.

Clean lines, along with neutral or broody colors and manly textures, “can feel surprisingly warm and sexy,” says Sue Marie Munroe of the Seattle-based home design consulting firm Sue Marie Design. She likens the effect to a woman wearing a man’s suit jacket over a crisp white shirt.

However, a predominantly masculine room should have some softer, feminine counterpoints. “Almost everyone has a masculine and feminine side anyway,” Markatos points out, and there’s less marital discord when a room feels welcoming to both men and women.

Faux fur pillows, fluffy rugs and lace window panels can all coexist with brown leather or gray flannel. Soften hard edges and blocky furniture by incorporating softer lines and curves, including oval-shaped mirrors and picture frames or a demilune table, Jernigan suggests.

“Overall, colors will dictate how a room reads in terms of defining its character as masculine or feminine,” she says, “so a menswear print can also be significantly reinterpreted and updated by selecting softer hues than the traditional gray, burgundy, navy, chocolate and black.”

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