Time was when decor was a girly pastime, and men who were enthusiastic about interior design were warily regarded as being a little too in touch with their feminine side.
How things change; nowadays men are unashamedly style savvy and are blazing a trail with a rough luxe look which appeals to women as well. It features textures — beaten, rusted metal, loft-style unplastered brick work — which combine brilliantly with dark tones and leather and create a hard-edged industrial/luxury gentleman’s club combo.
“The lines are becoming more blurred over what style suits a ‘men’s space’ and one which is shared by both sexes,” says Maurizio Pellizzoni, a designer at architecture and interiors firm MPD London.
“Undoubtedly, a rough luxe industrial dimension incorporating leathers and metallics which is striking without being overbearing, a characteristic of rooms that appeals to men, is becoming increasingly popular generally.”
The key to creating a successful male-orientated space is to create an environment which is stylish, refined and inviting, says Pellizzoni, as men want areas where they can instantly relax and unwind.
“Fun and playful elements which distract from the everyday pressures and preoccupations of work make an interior interesting and add to the chill-down feel,” he says.
“In a recent project we created a sophisticated entertainment room for after-hours entertaining, which had a gentlemen’s club flavour. It had a large cinema screen, a pool table and bespoke Hollwood-style bar. It’s all about a space which isn’t too serious in tone but speaks volumes about the client’s style, taste and design credentials.”
Another designer, Timothy Oulton — who has new ranges at Barker & Stonehouse which combine elegance and comfortable style accessorised by prints of historical sporting heroes, perfect for a unisex space — describes his style as “ rooted in vintage British designs, but with a twist of the unexpected”.
“I like mixing bold combinations of authentic materials, like rich leather with shiny steel, or clear cut crystal with rusted metal,” he adds. “Your home should be a source of energy, an inspiration for life’s journeys and adventures. It should become part of your story.”
What better time to encourage the man in your life to embrace his inner decor diva? Here’s the experts’ guide to rooms for the boys (and girls!) and the best kit around.
“When designing a male space, we often choose to use strong colours and lines to create a bold and distinguished look,” says designer Katharine Pooley. “For example, the current trend for warm metals, like copper and brass, works well in men’s rooms, as they are bold yet luxurious.”
Bold tones of red and burnt orange as accent colours will lift a design and give it a masculine edge, she says, while substantial fixtures and striking textures will complement a bold, masculine environment which is opulent while still being sleek and modern.
MODERN MAN KIT: Unreconstructed males needn’t panic, as leather furniture — that ubiquitous sofa — is still an essential ingredient, but these days the emphasis is on quality as much as size. Roche Bobois has a stunning softly-contoured Ace sofa, from around £4000, in a variety of colours including natural tan (available later in the summer). If that’s beyond the budget, Harvey’s very acceptable alternative is an L-shaped Sphere sofa in leather, currently reduced from £1,099 to £999.
If vintage heroes are your bag, you could feel like the ultimate World War One fictional hero, Biggles, by relaxing in a Pilot Deluxe Vintage Leather Armchair, £1395, from Alexander & Pearl. Alternatively, if jaw-dropping humour’s more to your taste, settle into a seat that resembles the open mouth of Jaws, a Rodnik shark fin chair, £449, Made.com.
Cool men don’t clutter, so a raid on the Made With Love range, a company with appropriately industrial-style furniture, could be a good move. Boatwood Coffee Table Storage Trunk, £1069.95, and Industrial Steel Drawers, £759.95.
Alternatively, join the flat-pack club. Be warned; it might test your patience and skills, but Ikea’s sleek Scandi-style storage is worth the effort and would sit well in a pared-back space.
No man worth his salt fiddles about with tea-lights, but soft lighting is essential at times. Do the job with a chunky Eichholtz Ipanema Hurricane Lantern Medium, £176, Occa-Home.
BOYS BUYS: Retro’s still in vogue and a Retro Bowler Hat Cushion, £37, Great British Designs, is a snip. Please fathers with a Dad Comic Superhero Personalised Cushion, £28, Wow Thank You.
“Masculine interiors are effortlessly cool and can be created with relatively few elements,” says Claire Hornby, creative stylist at Barker & Stonehouse.
“Neutral colours, clean lines and sleek, stainless steel finishes will create a super-luxe feel, which will work well in modern spaces. For those looking for something a little more traditional, natural materials such as aniline leathers and beautifully crafted chunky timbers, paired with soft lighting and dark walls, will exude an understated glamour.
“Vintage maps and retro memorabilia inspired by pursuits such as riding, tennis and cricket will go hand in hand with this backdrop and will come together to establish a curated feel.”
MODERN MAN KIT: Timothy Oulton’s collection includes a leather Charlie chair, £975 each, which teamed with a generous Axel Dining Table, £1150, would be the ultimate in cool dining. His Airfoil Rectangular Desk, which resembles a section of a plane wing, is an investment piece; reflected in its sky-high price, £3125. All from Barker & Stonehouse.
Martin Waller, founder of interiors company Andrew Martin, is a travel fanatic, and his emporium overflows with fabrics, furniture and accessories synonymous with man-appeal style and adventurous decor. His striking Campden Natural fabric, £129.90 per metre, from the Clarendon collection, is a gem.
Bedrooms are often a danger zone for the unstylish man. Black sheets may be low maintenance but they are boring and deeply undesirable - instead, opt for interesting designer ranges such as Ben de Lisi’s. His exotic beach-scene dark grey Miami bedlinen, from £36, Debenhams, would be just fine for wooing moments.
The typography trend is still going strong and illuminated letters combine function with fun, perfect for a man’s room. An Electric Light Bulb Letter W, £325, Alexander & Pearl, or a more purse-friendly Arrow Metal Table Lamp, £95, BHS.