Q. Hello, I am a fan of your site. I have a weird question. My husband says that I keep trying to make the house look too girlie. I don’t want it to be, but I think maybe I can’t help it. How can I make our place more “manly” as he says. What makes something feminine or masculine? Other than flowers and pink, how can I tell? – Joan
A. Hi Joan! It’s not a weird question at all. I do know that some people may not be thrilled with me trying to say something is overly masculine or feminine. However this is absolutely a way that I have found myself, and I know other designers are guilty of this as well, describing a piece or a room. I know when I am saying something is feminine or masculine, I’m trying to say something is soft or strong. Clearly a woman can like a strong design just as much as a man can enjoy the softer palate.
Yes most people think that something is “girlie” when it is covered in something frilly, and comes in a “girlie” color. Some things can be thought as much more masculine or feminine and you may not even realize it. I think it would be best if I pointed out these characteristics, and then let you figure out how you want to incorporate some of these characteristics into your own home. You and your husband can make the decisions together.
Now let’s talk masculine vs feminine design.
Commonly this just means that something is a bit softer, and more delicate. This is accomplished by using lines, color, and furniture placement.
Usually in a room that is thought to be more feminine, there is more going on. There are more pieces, colors, and elements that make the space more involved.
Light airy colors are the most noticeable feature of a feminine room. A soft color is best. A blue can be considered delicate when it’s a pale blue. Colors like white, blue, pink, coral, lavender, and gray can all be used. Of course these are is no limit to the colors that can work here.
Curved lines are a more subtle way to make something appear delicate. A chair that has a lovely curved back and or seat is thought to be a more feminine feature.
Materials are just as important as anything else. Soft fabrics like cotton and linen are nice. Anything with a smooth finish is a great characteristic. Stones like marble and Quartz, as well as wood with various finishes is thought to be more on the feminine side. Lucite is another common on material.
When something is considered masculine it’s usually dark, filled with geometric lines, and uses a lot of sturdy materials.
It is much more minimal and refined, and might have a lot less in the space.
Dark Colors are key. Dark wall paint, which is a huge trend right now, and is deemed a masculine trait. Obviously this is true with furniture and finishings. Black, gray, orange, navy, and green are all wonderful masculine colors.
Materials that naturally look more masculine are leather, metal, and other materials with a rough finish. For example leather, metal, wood, and brick can all look rough and worn. This is common when trying to put together a more masculine aesthetic.
Modern design style is usually incorporated within a masculine space.