“When it comes to men and interior design there is a very thin line between a classy bachelor pad and a cheesy man cave,” begins interior designer Monique McLintock at McLintock Wong Interiors. In her years working in Hong Kong interiors, McLintock has noticed patterns emerge, often from the wrong direction. In 2,000 years, we have collectively held on to draconian notions of what a man should want as opposed to a woman in matters from petty to felonious. Those gender norms have made designing a comfortable home a baffling ordeal. “Designing a stylish pad can often be a head scratcher for most men and I don’t blame them for not even bothering to attempt it. It is not uncommon to find a man’s apartment to have a collage of various pieces they have adopted or bought over the years,” says McLintock.
So in this day and age, is there such a thing as interiors for men? The short answer? No, as men also want simplicity and practicality at home. Most of the time anyway. “Men love their gadgets,” admits McLintock. “They want every new gadget you can think of and all of it controlled via a snazzy electronic panel. They even want the gadgets in the bathroom.” From a furniture perspective, most men are happy with a good sectional sofa; accent chairs are unnecessary. Decorative wallpaper? Nope. Motion sensor toilet seat? Bring it on. And no television is too big.
Trivial stereotypes aside, we all have focus areas and wish lists when and if the time comes for a complete redesign. Plenty of us — particularly those with families — want a better kitchen, a bathroom with a hotel-level rainshower or an office, but McLintock has noticed men trend towards kitted out space for entertaining. “The statement that every man’s home is his castle become particularly true when it comes to the entertainment area. A bar is always a must-have and ideally they would love a terrace to have an outdoor bar. Men are still very much like their bro brew crew time,” she says. Further to that, in the era of the metrosexual (or lumbersexual for real hipsters) walk-in closets and well-equipped bathrooms are on the rise. Men’s grooming, after all, is a US$20 billion industry.
But even when total redesign isn’t in the cards, there are options for personalising and, for lack of a better word, butching up a space. An easy bar can be created with a few leather or silver accessories, decanters and vintage bar gear. “You can place the tray on an existing side cabinet that you may already have. When the boys come over, instead of throwing them a couple of beers from the refrigerator you can mix them up a martini that is shaken, not stirred,” quips McLintock. When it comes to décor, rugs in geometric patterns and styles are a great stylish way to cover a raggedy or outdated floor, and the same in the bedroom is quick luxury underfoot. Art can define a space and McLintock is a firm believer in liking what’s on the wall over a fancy price tag. And if major pieces like sofas or beds run towards the dull, patterned or textured throw blankets or cushions will do the trick. “Don’t be afraid of adding some colour here,” she stresses.
Finally, to indulge an age-old bias, McLintock is adamant the bathroom receives the same attention the rest of the home does — and a sledgehammer isn’t required to spruce it up. “It’s often the first thing we see in the morning and the last thing we see at night,” she begins. “Let’s first start with the smell. While I’m sure the pine scented plug from the supermarket does the job I do suggest getting a diffuser and scented candles for a more sophisticated look,” she says, recommending Jo Malone (at Lane Crawford). Upgrade to a classy stone toothbrush holder (G.O.D.’s are “gorgeous”) and invest in some lush linens. “A man’s pod should feel collected and not matchy-match decorated,” finishes McLintock. “Mismatching is encouraged — like a leather chesterfield next to a sleek modern chair. I highly encourage adding vintage items, maybe even a sentimental heirloom like an old trunk that was tucked away at your grandpa’s house.” None of which sounds like advice for men but like advice for us all. And what’s more modern man than that?