How to Joyfully Marry His and Her Styles
Do you take this beaded lampshade (leather couch, pink tile) to have and to hold? Learn how to balance tastes for a perfect style union
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Girl finds her dream apartment and decorates it to her heart's desire: feminine, elegant, glamorous. Girl meets boy, and he hates her decor. How do you strike the right balance of feminine and masculine notes so that both members of a couple can live harmoniously?
Many women prefer a gender-neutral or even a traditionally masculine style, and men have a wide range of tastes, too. But what makes a room traditionally feminine? It often starts with what makes an outfit feminine — warm colors like pinks, purples and mauves; floral patterns; metallics; ruffles; curves and lots of layers.
An all-white room tends to have a feminine feel as well — light and airy, like a sanctuary where tracked-in dirt is never even a consideration. Ornamental chandeliers and decorations add to that overall feminine mood.
In contrast, a traditionally masculine room often takes cues from men's wardrobes: browns and grays, plaids and pinstripes, boxy and straight forms.
A dark room with hues of steely gray, blues and browns automatically feels masculine. Add brown or black leather, and it's a done deal no matter how many vases of flowers you display.
A bathroom can be made very feminine with luminescent mosaic tile, peachy damask wallpaper and brushed-nickel or polished-brass ornamental plumbing fixtures.
A bathroom can be made ultramasculine with dark matte tile installed in a grid-like fashion, no patterns besides a possible bold stripe, and streamlined chrome plumbing fixtures.
You love the spaces you have created, but how do you compromise and make a moving-in partner feel welcomed and comfortable? You must combine the elements of both feminine and masculine to create a holistically balanced room.
Gentlemen, your pad looks awesome with its dark wood paneling and heavy industrial metal finishes. But if you want to show your commitment, bring in some softer touches.
Combining elements and juxtaposing them helps. For example, a neutral black and white color scheme eliminates conflict over feminine or masculine colors. A leather headboard feels masculine, but having it tufted adds curves that feminize it. Layered bedding feels feminine, but having those layers be fur makes it masculine.
Another approach in the bedroom is going completely gender neutral, as shown here. Grays are neither feminine or masculine. The boxy headboard has rounded corners. None of the decorative accessories lean toward either gender.
Better yet, a light and bright room like this can please both parties. Layers of exotic bohemian touches, like a fur throw and a Beni Ourain rug, may make one of you happy. The clean lines of the midcentury lighting fixtures and seating may please the other. The room reads vibrant yet relaxing.
This bathroom has the best of both worlds: stripes for one of you, a curvy pattern for the other. And medium brown beige tones for all. This tile pattern reminds me of the sidewalks at Copacabana beach; it has a vavoom factor.
In the living room, an all-white scheme leans toward feminine, but eliminating needless layers and ornamentation and keeping the furniture lines pretty boxy brings in masculine energy.
This living room initially reads gender neutral or a touch masculine, given the hard lines of the furnishings and lack of layers. But the extra-large artwork of a woman's nude form and the tulip arrangement bring in curves and feminine energy.
Remember, compromise is good for the state of the union. A new design scheme combining light and dark elements, boxy and curved forms, heavy metals and sparkly glass can be better than either extreme on its own.
Decorate With Intention: The Art of Compromise
12 Tips for Happily Combining Households
Ideabook published on Feb. 14, 2013.
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