House Rules: How to man up (or man down) your home
Even the ultimate bloke’s pad can be made livable with a little aesthetic compromise
“She seems to come with an awful lot of scatter cushions” a friend once said, with an air of alarm
“She seems to come with an awful lot of scatter cushions” a friend once said, with an air of alarm, soon after his girlfriend moved in. At the time I couldn’t understand why this might be a problem. In my book, the more soft furnishings you had, the happier you’d be, especially on evenings where you felt in the need of a little extra comfort.
I hadn’t realised that many men – and yes, I think you can generalise when it comes to scatter cushions – find their multiplication troublesome.
My friends are still happily together, and perhaps some of that happiness is due to some aesthetic compromises. But what does a manly interior look like? I still have some vaguely traumatic memories of earlier, adventurous days, when an invitation “back to his place” might yield more than 50 shades of decorative grey, together with vinyl or leatherette sofas and some unfortunate Athena posters. There is also the memory of a shag pile carpet in there somewhere.
Perhaps the epitome of the blokey home was Joey and Chandler’s apartment in Friends: twin La-Z-Boy recliners, a foosball table and an epically enormous television. But between that and a pastel garden of Cath Kidston, coupled with fragile knick-knacks, where’s the middle ground?
Accepted wisdom is that men prefer boxy shapes, straight lines, heavier pieces of furniture, darker colours and the odd touch of chrome, while women like “more sensuous curves”, softer shapes and paler tones. Oh, if only all aspects of relationships were that simple to navigate.
In a bigger house, you can have a room each. Just imagine it: for him, a dark vinyl and chrome man cave for him, complete with some heavy faux modernist furniture for him; for her, an adorable bright floral spot, all cushioned softness, where you can’t move without knocking something over.
If you have to compromise? Well, it all depends on who has moved in with whom. You can cover up hideously sludgy-coloured, ultra-heavy corduroy sofas with pretty floral throws.
Alternatively, a large animal skin (fake or real), plus a heavy chair chosen for ergonomics rather than aesthetics, and a few copies of computer or motoring magazines can neutralise even the ultra-feminine in a flash.