The man’s room is his retreat


By Ken Dean

Signal Contributing Writer

We can call a man’s room, just that, the man’s room, or retreat, or his space, the study or library, but whatever we call it, it should reflect the man of the family. The man needs to escape to his den or burrow, if you will, to work on a project, read or give thought to problems that need to be worked out. It could also be to watch the football or baseball game, boxing or that great picture that is on television … a western, perhaps?

Many men turn the garage into their area, a work bench, pool table, game table for cards, a refrigerator filled with beer, etc. But of course, the garage is far removed from decorating a room in the house as his room — with an emphasis on design.

When it comes to other rooms in the house today men tend to add their personal feelings to such rooms as kitchens with relation to counter tops, floors and perhaps appliances and cabinet design and color, and also master bedroom in decision making for steam units, whirlpool tubs, surfaces and perhaps color.

Many men have a tendency to love high-tech gadgets and settings, like a home theatre with all the electronics and remote controls in men’s colors and fabrics.

Many look at materials for their practicality and durability. As for colors, men do not like anything that hints at peach, mauve or pink. Men look at colors psychologically different than women. Many years ago I was working on a house in Sherman Oaks and the wife and I picked a carpet color that she liked. We showed it to her husband and told him that this was the off-peach carpet we were using. His response was, “Oh no, I don’t want peach carpet in the house.” A few days later, we showed him the same carpet with a few fabrics, and this time called the carpet color salmon. His response, “That’s more like it.” In romance, men give women red roses but will mostly have anything red other than perhaps a red tie.

In choosing colors for a man’s room, work toward the darker tones, but not too dark. Stay away from pastels. Men generally like colors that range from whites to blacks, burgundy, greys, the bold jewel tones of navy and blue purple, burnt oranges, mustard or yellow-golds, teal greens and teal blues.

When selecting window treatments, stay away from tassels and trimmings on drapery treatments. Wood blinds or shutters work well here.

When working fabrics into his room, work toward patterns that have an abstract or geometric design. Patterns based on nature, such as animal-skin fabrics — leopard, tiger or zebra — work well with a nice striped wallpaper.

Decorating a man’s room doesn’t have to be a complicated endeavor. However, it is interesting to note that many men are color blind, basically having the inability to distinguish red and green, and therefore may have a hard time with colors selected for their room.

First, remember that comfort and relaxation is a starting point. Traditional classic designs, such as the English Chippendale or hepplewhite styles, go great in a traditional theme or with modern contemporary styles of Mies Van Der Rohe’s famous 1929 “Barcelone” chair, Marcel Breuer’s 1925 chrome and canvas or the designs of Charles Eames work.

A man’s room can be sleek and somewhat masculine, but it can still be elegant and classy. Visualize a traditional English raised-paneled room in oak wood with a ligh-t to medium-dark walnut stain, matching wood blinds or shutters, a couple of Engish Bergere chairs upholstered in a classy, tapestry fabric and a burgundy or reddish-brown leather sofa. Perhaps bring in a plaid fabric for throw pillows on the sofa, real or silk tropical plants, a wall unit for a television, music, computer and books. Add in the natural beauty of wood for the floor with an oriental area rug. Sound nice?

Perhaps his room is a “pub” for his pool table or card/game table sitting on a nice wood or tile floor, with plaid walls all done in tones of greens, greys, beiges and solid fabrics on the furniture … perhaps a nice bar for 4.

If the man is into sports, golf, boating, hunting or whatever, there are specialty fabrics and wallpapers depicting these themes. A Tuscany faux finish on the walls, works well with any fabric or furniture design.

Remember, this is “his” room and will remain so for years. Men tend to stay with the same concept year after year, perhaps 20 or so years, so plan with this in mind. Select colors, styles and designs that will not go out of style and give you that ‘70’s look in the 2000s.”

Ken Dean is an award-winning professional interior designer, interior design teacher and writer for 40 years. His website is He can be reached at (661) 251-0170

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