Design 101-Masculine vs. Feminine

Mankind generally seems to have an innate desire for balance. This is perfectly demonstrated in the children’s storybook “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. Goldilocks does not want her porridge to be too hot or too cold, her chair too big or too small, nor her bed too soft or too hard. She wants these things to be “just right”.

goldilocks.jpg

As we discuss different aspects of balance in the next few Design 101 posts we are basically talking about how to get a room to feel “just right”.

Today I’m going to be talking about the balance between masculinity and femininity.

There are some general colors, patterns, shapes, and elements to design and decor that read more masculine or feminine.

These groupings are not absolute truths but common perceptions.  For example there is no decree that declares pink as a girl color but most people do connect the color as being feminine. Here are two illustrations.

 

Do you think this room is more feminine or more masculine?

via Houzz

 

 

And how about this room?  Does it read more feminine or masculine?

 

To me the first room reads feminine and the second masculine.  Here are some common qualities of masculine and feminine design elements.

 

Table 1.

design 101-masculine vs. feminine

 

 

Now that I have listed some of the masculine and feminine design traits it might be fun to go back up to the mostly feminine and the mostly masculine room photos and see what particular elements created that vibe.  For example, the shiny mirrors and soft rug in the feminine office  and the wood tones and hard brick in the masculine room.

 

Unless the room is a girl’s bedroom or a boy’s bedroom I prefer rooms that have a balance of both masculine and feminine traits.  The rooms below are great examples of designers who orchestrated this beautiful blend of masculine and feminine features.  See if you can identify which furnishings and décor read more masculine and which read more feminine.

 

I’m in love with these rooms!

 

 

(Masculine Features of this room- Color and boxy shapes of the built-ins, art on the wall, color of the chair, color, shape, and plainness of the rug, boxy wood trim on wall around the door, boxy ottomans. Feminine Features of this room- shiny and ornate chandelier, intricate design on base of side table, color and tufting of ottomans, curvy light above chair, curvy little legs on chair, bright colors of some of the decorative books)

 

(Masculine Features of this room- striped rug, boxy club chairs, squared coffee table, wood tones of furnishings, plain lines of floor lamp, shape of mirror. brown color of throw, wrought iron material on legs and décor items. Feminine features of this room- blue pastels, flowers, shiny mirror, shiny table lamp bases, curves of pinch pleated drapes, the soft material of the throw, curved lines of slipper chairs, glass top on coffee table, round shape of decorative balls and plate)

 

 

(Masculine Features of this room- Wood floors, wood tones in furniture including legs of furniture. brown color or bench seat, straight lined wood beams on ceiling, squared frames on walls, boxy stands next to fire place, shape of rug. Feminine features of this room- curvy, ornate pattern on rug, curvy legs of coffee table and console table on the right, curvy back of slipper chairs on the left, flowers on the coffee table, curvy sconces on above the mantle, curvy shape of vases by the fireplace, curves of pinch pleated drapes)

 

So how can you apply this design principle to your decorating?  Ask yourself if you are wanting a masculine vibe in the room (like for a man cave), a feminine feeling in the room, or a mixture of both?  Then use the list found in Table 1. to help you decide on what elements you should be looking for in your furnishings and décor for that particular room.

 

Do you find you are drawn to a balance of masculinity and femininity in a room or do you lean more to one side?  Come back soon for a gorgeous DIY for your wall (hint: it’s a feminine element;-).  Can’t wait to share it!

 

8 thoughts on “Design 101-Masculine vs. Feminine

  1. Joanne B.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on masculine/feminine touches in a well designed room. After reading your post I discovered I always ‘thought’ this way, but it was subconsciously. I was drawn to the rooms that were a mix but I never knew why. Thanks for identifying these differences and the great examples of each. I will be sure to be mindful of this in my future decor. This was a fun post too!

  2. Kristine

    I prefer a masculine/feminine mix as well, but I struggle with how to pull it together. Your list of guidelines (I love lists) were very helpful. Thanks for sharing, I am pinning this and looking forward to more Decorating 101 posts

  3. Andrea

    Really enjoyed the post, thank you. I recently looked around my apartment and realized how much it jars on me and bugs me, despite loving everything in it when I bought them. I’m in provided housing overseas, and thought my disgust came from not having a choice about the yellow curtains and acid yellowed green chairs (and that is a problem) but this helped me realize that the problem for me is they hyper masculinity of what I’ve put together, anchored by a persian rug that screams to be softened with feminine accents. It’s not *me* and feels wrong. Time for more shine and curves. 🙂

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