Home Design for Men

Man caves are a thing of the past, but a masculine touch is en vogue.


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The man cave aesthetic is a thing of the past, replaced with sleeker silhouettes, midcentury lines, and neutral colors.

Photo by Drew Kelly, design by Ian Stallings

Say you’re a guy, and you’ve got a room to call your own. First off: congrats. Extra space isn’t easy to come by in the East Bay, so you should be feeling fine. But after the joy subsides, trepidation may well take its place. How on earth should you decorate?

First off, step away from the old school man cave aesthetic. We’re talking squishy leather sofas, oversized TVs, maybe a neon sign or two. That type of room still exists, but it’s not exactly the height of style. There’s a new masculinity in design, and it’s a whole lot more graceful than its lumpy predecessor.

What do we have to thank for this stylistic evolution? Although we’ve been moving toward sleeker silhouettes for a long time now, there’s no dismissing the importance of the Mad Men effect. That show ensured that the clean lines of the midcentury are synonymous with a certain smooth masculinity. And though this writer suggests you do not go the way of Don Draper—you’ve got your health to think of, after all—there’s no reason you can’t copy his style. Any space could benefit from a dash of the debonair.

Midcentury pieces are ideal for any room made for casual lounging and relaxation. They combine comfort with practicality and elegance with candor. Furniture pieces from this era (and their modern reproductions) are notable for their lack of excess. Couches are slim, chairs sleek, and you see a whole lot more leg, too. This makes for rooms that are airy, clean, and anything but stuffy. They provide an easy shorthand to a good looking and comfortable space.

That being said, a great room is not made from furniture alone. Color plays an important role, too. You can’t go wrong with neutrals; shades of black and white will always be chic. Navy is certainly handsome, and olive greens and browns offer a pleasing, hunting lodge vibe.

But don’t dismiss brighter hues either. Yellow, avocado, peacock, chartreuse: Nothing is off limits in masculine decor, even pink. Yep, you read that correctly. Did you know that prior to the 1940s, pink was considered more manly than blue? So choose shades that speak to you. Colors need not be defined by gender, and nor should your palette.

With the style in place, there’s only one thing left to do: Make the room your own, using your interests as your guide. So if you’ve got a favorite band, frame posters of the band for the walls. If you’ll be screening movies or games, indulge yourself with a big screen, and be sure to have a table handy for snacks. And bookworms, score yourself a good lounge chair and task lamp. You’ll wonder how you ever read without them.

After all, if you’re lucky enough to have your own space, why not make it reflect the very best version of you? Something cool and comfortable, personal and sincere: No matter the guy, there’s nothing more stylish than that.

Sarah Coombs is an interior designer based in Alameda.

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