The boys and I went shopping to get a father’s day gift. We tossed around a few ideas…you know the typical man gifts – socks, ties, wallet, briefcase, maybe a new belt. In the end we decided to give their dad the same as last year, a collection of different beers. They like going into the cooler at Co-op Liquor store and choosing the different types. Then we always do a steak and chicken wing dinner. Really it’s what they all like. As a matter of fact, they like it so much, I often get a steak and chicken wing dinner for Mother’s Day.
All this talk about Father’s Day and men’s gifts, has me thinking about menswear inspired decor. I don’t know if it comes from living with 4 guys, but I love pinstripes, plaids, tweed, leather – basically any menswear touches. Women have always raided the boys closets, from trousers to fedoras and trench coats. And what you see on Savile Row often shows up in home interiors.
When it comes to home interiors, no one does menswear inspired decor as well as Ralph Lauren. He is the master of creating beautiful spaces that appeal to both men and women. His interiors borrow heavily from men’s fashion, yet they have a lightness and elegance that keeps them from being too heavy. The image below is a perfect example of the Ralph Lauren look.
Traditional menswear fabric such as plaid and flannel have made a big comeback in home decor. Many mills in England and Scotland are still making their tartans with traditional methods, producing classic designs from 150 years ago. Click here for the blog I wrote on Moon Fabrics. Lately we’ve had a lot of clients wanting to have something plaid. If you don’t want to commit to a large furniture piece like like a sofa or chair, then a tartan cushion will give that pop.
It’s not just menswear fabric that adds a masculine touch. Other menswear inspired details we like are touches of leather. We found the beautiful ottoman below at Domaine Fine Furnishings in Calgary. It has patchwork detailing and gives a soft relaxed look to the room. The leather and metal chair, also below, is all strong lines and hard surfaces. The baseball stitching adds another menswear touch.
Nailhead detailing has been around for 400 years, so I guess you can say it’s a classic. It adds a strong presence to upholstered furniture. Right now I notice at HomeSense they’re showing nailhead on everything, and lots of it. For the classic look, don’t go overboard with the studs. We like a worn brass finish as opposed to the trendy shiny silver.
Often it’s the small details that add the character. This floor lamp below has a small touch of antiqued brass which gives it a more masculine feel. As you’ve probably heard, brass is back. However, antiqued classic brass never really went anywhere. It was that shiny 80’s/90’s brass that has come and gone.
For some reason mid-century furniture has come to be considered masculine. The clean lines and lack of ornamentation make it fall into the ‘manly’ side of decorating. It’s quite popular now, especially with younger homeowners. If you check second hand stores and kijiji, it’s not too hard to find some nice pieces.
Unless you’re decorating a little girls room, every room needs a few menswear inspired details. What you must be careful of is overdoing it. If it’s all menswear inspired, then you’ll end up with the lodge look, like below. That’s okay if you have a place in Canmore or Whistler, but a touch overdone for the city.
To get the mix just right, always balance menswear with a lighter touch. Notice below in this room designed by Encore Design, the fussy details mixed with the plaids. Although very ornate, the plaid helps ground the room and keep it from going over the top frilly. Basically I would say this room is very pretty and dare I say it, girly. Choosing to cover the chairs in a different plaids, makes it way more interesting.
The room below, one of my favourites by Mark Badgley and James Mischka, is far more tailored and masculine looking. Yet it’s not all menswear inspired. There’s balance provided by the delicate turned leg of the night table, the fresh white on the bed and the light coloured walls. Notice that even with the dark colours and menswear inspired chest and plaid, the room has an airiness and simplicity to it.
In the photo below, the pinstriped fabric plays off the ornate carving of the settee. That one touch alone is enough to balance the heavy textured wallpaper, the heavy baseboards, as well as the menswear fabric cushions and the plaid area carpet.
The following rooms show a great balance of traditional menswear inspired decor, with lighter more delicate pieces. There really is an art to blending together a room. Too much menswear and it will feel heavy. All lightness and curves, and it will feel too sweet.
Since today is Father’s Day, we want to send a bunch of love to the dad’s in our life. Thank you for all the things you’ve taught us and shown us. Wow, when we started pulling out the old photos to scan, it’s scary how quickly the years fly by.
Next week we’ll be celebrating Canada Day on the blog. To me, that always seems like the first day of summer. Enjoy the week! Sign up below if you want to get our blog directly to your inbox every Tuesday.
Karen Fron Design is a full-service Interior Design Firm located in Calgary, Alberta. We specialize in bespoke residential & commercial interiors, custom furniture & draperies, and whole home renovations.
“A well functioning and beautiful home makes life better.”