Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Merging two personal styles to create a cohesive look can be a real challenge for many couples.  Many couples struggle with how to incorporate both of their design styles in one living space.  The most common questions I receive are:
What makes a design style masculine or feminine? How does one keep the space from looking too masculine or too feminine?  How does one create a balanced look in a shared space?

Here are the 7 steps I share with couples to help them navigate designing a space that they both will love.

1. Identify Masculine and Feminine Design Traits

The first step in striking the right feminine/masculine balance in your space is identifying what traditional  "masculine" and "feminine" design aesthetics are

Masculine Design Characteristics

•Sleek, straight lined furniture
•Solids, stripes, and plaid fabric choices
•Steel, concrete, dark wood, and leather finishes
• Earthy color tones (gray, brown, black)
• Oversized art

Feminine Design Characteristics
• Pastel or bright color tones
• Floral fabric patterns (floral, damask)
• Soft textiles (satin, silk, velvet)
•Furniture and decor tend to be more ornate

2. Find A Style You Both Like

Although you both may like different design styles, try to pinpoint what similarities exist with the design styles you like.  What styles do you have in common?  Look online and at magazine photos to help pinpoint design styles and home decor that you both agree on.  Perhaps you both like the color blue, Asian decor or bright color or pattern on walls.  Fore example, if you both like blue, start looking at wall colors or accent pieces in that hue. Once you've identified a decor style you both like, use that as a launch pad for your design scheme. 

3. Embrace The Style That You Love But Know When & How To Edit

As you start to decorate your space, you may find that the space is leaning too much toward one style (i.e. masculine or feminine decor).   If this happens, just  take a step back and think about what you can be edited to balance the design scheme out.

For example, if the space starts feeling too masculine, perhaps swap out some of the more traditionally masculine pieces such as dark colors or hard lined furniture for more traditionally feminine pieces like florals, silks, or furniture with curved lines.

Here, a  rather masculine looking leather chaise is front and center against the delicate scroll patterned wall paper which serves as a backdrop for the thick framed masculine tomorrow. 


4. Mix Textures

Use a mix of textures when choosing the fabrics for your shared space.  To appeal to both a feminine and masculine aesthetic, try using luxurious textures like velvet and silk paired with more natural fabrics like linen and wood.

5. Update a Traditional Masculine Look with Feminine Flair 

Add feminine touches to masculine items.   This sofa has a masculine silhouette but is upholstered in a very feminine lavender velvet.

6. Use Art and Wall Coverings To Help Balance Out the Look

This Moroccan patterned wallpaper with its neutral color scheme and curved lines is the perfect mix of masculine and feminine. The metal accent chair and lamp are the masculine touches in the space.

In the bedroom below, although the headboard and color scheme seem masculine, the use of the oversized black and white fashion print balances out the space and brings the  feminine design aesthetic front and center. 

7. Incorporate Contrasting Furnishings and Accents

Juxtapose masculine furnishings with more feminine ones. Subtle colors, delicate accents, and other small details like fresh flowers can really help soften a masculine space.  While details like raw woods, stripes, dark colors give a feminine space a more masculine design aesthetic.  

For instance,  here the look of the very masculine wood plank wall is softened by the floor length drapes, patterned pillow, fresh flowers and subtle hued throw.

In the room below, small details like the bouquet of fresh flowers and gold accents in the fixtures and even the gold knobs on the masculine looking nightstand help to create a harmonious balance in this bedroom.

The spaces below are great examples of the beauty and balance that is created when contrasting elements are used in design.  Florals, vintage crystal and ornate frames work well against the masculine pinstripe background.

Designing a space that two people love is a delicate balancing act.  Need help merging styles? Contact me here.

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