His House Too! Decorating with Men in Mind

Couple hanging mirrors

Pink rosebuds on all the pillowcases, doilies, and dust ruffles, eyelet curtains, beaded lampshades, lace trim, and lavender walls - probably not his cup of tea. While men and women have been setting up housekeeping for centuries, the battle between the masculine and feminine in home décor has been an ongoing conflict. Nevertheless, there is compromise between extreme styles of decoration. The following ideas can help bridge the gap between decorating styles so both men and women can feel right at home.

Colors and Patterns

Color has a great impact on household style. Without stereotyping overmuch, most men may not feel comfortable inviting their buddies over to watch a game in a pink room. In fact, when crossing pink off your list, cross off purple and any flowery arrangements of wallpaper too. Neutral earth tones are best such as ivory, beige, sage green, chocolate brown and tan. If these colors provide the majority of the backdrop, you can always add subtle splashes of color - beige cushions with magenta embroidery, a rose-colored throw for the sofa, or silver-gray and lavender throw pillows.

It's best to choose colors that both occupants like that blend well together. Even a powder blue room, while blue, is still a bit too cutesy for most men. Consider midnight blue with splashes of magenta or perhaps maroon. Strong colors that are revealed by well-defined patterns can be a great way to design a room for both men and women. If neutral colors cannot be agreed upon, consider a bold color scheme like red, black and white. Forest green has been overdone in past years, but it is a solid choice for men that can go well with more gentle and feminine colors like bone white or ivory.

Flowers can be introduced to a room in a balanced way that is not overly feminine. Wallpaper adorned with tiny flowers and buds does signify a female style of décor, but paper boasting large arrangements of earthy colored flowers or bold blooms in dark colors can be a compromise. However, it is probably best to avoid floral wallpaper and borders. A border of ivy or leaves can also be a bridge between the two, but to truly give the décor more harmony between the sexes, opt for striped wallpaper or textured paper of marble or stucco design.

Flowers can also be introduced in more subtle ways. Vases of fresh flowers are welcome attractions for any room. Again, instead of too much pink, add more green plants and consider more blended arrangements. If the greater part of the room is neutral you can easily incorporate items such as white lily coasters, a white floral lace mantle scarf, a gold brocade lampshade with subtle floral accents, a brown leaf-shaped candy-dish, or leaf-shaped drape pull. A parquet floor might boast a handsome leaf-like inlay as a border. A rug in earth tones might depict a floral focal point.

Furniture and Accessories

Careful consideration of furniture is essential for men's comfort. Victorian settees and over-small carved sofas may better serve a dollhouse than a room of contemporary adults. No matter what the style, the furniture should be large enough to accommodate the size of the home's occupants. Generally speaking, it is important for women that the couch looks good, but it must be comfortable enough so that the man of the house can curl up all afternoon when he's got a cold or wants to watch a football game.

As for tables, chairs and other pieces of wood furniture - whether light or dark wood - the pieces should be strong and solid. Items that are extremely ornate with floral carvings should be replaced with pieces with strong lines, elegant curves and simple accents. Consider end tables or a coffee table with a granite top or plain tables with straight legs and square tops. The straight lines can always be softened by piece of tapestry, a glass vase or an elegant table lamp. The key does not lie in making the room a masculine room, but rather, avoiding a style that is too feminine.

When it comes to other props and ornaments for living rooms or dens, choose chests as opposed to trinket boxes. Avoid - if we may dare - Precious Moments-like figurines and opt for pieces of interesting pottery or colored glass instead. Even crystal gives off a very womanly style, so contain it in some way with small wood chests or carved boxes, for instance, or pair with some dark colored glass. Look for items that are interesting rather than merely pretty - international ornaments like Chinese lacquer boxes, African tribal bookends, Moroccan candlesticks, Native American prints, etc.

Finally, when it comes to the vast array of wall art available today, there may be little trouble in fining suitable wall hangings that appeal to both sexes. Men, stereotypically, like animal prints (not the chick and bunny variety, however) and woodland scenes. Women tend to gravitate to garden and cottage landscape scenes. If a landscape cannot be agreed upon, consider a seascape or a coastal scene - minus the gallant sea-ships, perhaps too masculine for a good compromise. Architecture and city scenes also make good compromises.

For men and women to be happy and comfortable in their surroundings, both tastes should be addressed in the décor. By sticking with a mainly neutral palette, both sides can then introduce items and styles that more subtly convey personal sensibilities. A home with harmonious décor will also be more inviting to guests - of both sexes.