One of the most straightforward ways to add a sense of Masculinity to home is with raw textures. By avoiding polished materials, you achieve a more rugged and imperfect look. A space that appears almost unfinished can really emphasize its masculinity. Therefore, a lack of refinement can be a good thing. Think about the textures of stone, wood, steel, and concrete for example. When rough and imperfect, their textures really make an architectural statement as opposed to when they’re delicate and smooth.
In the image below, the wall has irregularities and a lack of uniformity. It’s one that is concrete textured with a wood credenza. The concrete is really what adds character, strength, and individuality to the overall space. Another unmistakable element of the space is its true sense of minimalism, which also works to highlight its flare. Both of these factors undeniably create an essence of masculinity.
Dark and Moody
Popular references such as the Bat Cave can set the tone for masculine design. Concepts like ‘dark and moody’ often emerge out of these references and help to create a manly vibe in one’s space. With that being said, masculinity does not always follow a specific formula in interior design, architecture, or fashion; it is more of a feeling.
Dark colors, specifically in the black and grey field, are key additions to a man’s home. As great enhancers, they work well with other components of design to achieve a complete aesthetic. Remember to still coordinate a dark color scheme with other spatial details like lighting. Using dim lighting and bright detail lights are a subtle yet effective way of setting your desired mood.
As pictured, this kitchen is made dark by black and a deep-colored wood, but also incorporates some brightness with its undercabinet lighting. The variation of light and dark creates a dark and moody interior that sets a certain ambiance. This is accomplished through balance with material, color, and lighting. Choose these combinations thoughtfully, but steer clear of overdoing it and causing the space to clash.
A client once put lights in his window shades that flashed different colors, which may be good for holidays or a party, but not everyday. Let’s try to keep it classy, gentlemen.
Wood can be a very good touch for a masculine apartment, but only when used correctly. Stay away from glossy finishes and keep them matte. A completely unfinished look is good too; sometimes a simple sealer is all you need. You want to stick with dark brown wood and think about the grain. Do you like a lot of grain or very little? Desaturated woods can also be okay, but you will more likely want to use them on the floor rather than for furniture, cabinets, and accent walls. Of course you could also use a dark wood for the floor.
In the photo below, you will see a home entertainment center that is quite simple but uses a slightly dark wood backdrop with accent lights to to create texture and mood. There are also very dark charcoal grey cabinets that work very well with the wood wall. This vignette is minimal and masculine with the blue lights pushing the limit. They really function as an accent rather than an overriding element.
Consistency is quite important if you are going for a real masculine look. Think about a suit: you have matching slacks and a jacket, but a shirt that may be a different color. The overall look is consistent with one dominating color in the jacket and slacks.
In this apartment composition you will notice the kitchen cabinets and panel ready appliances match the wall paint. This creates a super consistent feel with a little bit of brightness in the backsplash. Keep it simple is just about the best advice I can give you. This is one example of simple being done right.
Metal is another raw material that will go well with any type of masculine aesthetic based interior design. You can use stainless steel, black steel, or many other types of metals, but they have to have the right feel to them.
Here you can see a custom coat rack at the front entrance made of black tube steel. This is a super simple cool detail. It sets the tone right at the front entrance as someone walks in to hang their coat on this custom made metal coat rack.
If the goal is to have a very masculine space then you really want to have some industrial characteristics incorporated into the space. This could be done in many ways, for example, if you have a loft apartment, you may choose to expose brick or use industrial looking materials and hardware within the space. Details will really make or break a design. Nothing should be overlooked. A few industrial details thrown in can really elevate the overall look and feel of the space. Remember: it’s about a physical texture and aesthetic look, but also how the space makes you feel. Does it feel manly?
The image below is of a really neat steel door handle in a custom made orange door. This detail harnesses industrial with a bit of vibrancy from the orange wood door. It is balanced and adds a great deal of strength and the right equilibrium of rough and sleek to the door design.
Everything does not need to match and be all black or all grey for a space to feel masculine. Just like you may have a flashy tie to stand out, or wear a gold watch, you can add a bit of a punch in a few locations. This should be done tastefully and it all has to work together. Good design is intentional, not accidental.
You can see how this orange stained wood door pops out against the grey concrete walls of this loft apartment. It is not over the top at all, but a clear addition of color in an otherwise grey, black, and white apartment. It really adds to the space without looking like it is trying too hard. I would sincerely advise against anything that looks too gaudy. Add color but keep it classy. A nice go-to word for what this is achieving in my opinion is debonair. What’s your word?
Keep it sleek and simple, but intricate. Interior design is all about details! It is important to know the difference between silly detailing and quality, but these are things we feel. It is intuitive thought to know quality vs kitsch. Sleek details can go past the point of acceptable when overused. When used correctly, they will really balance out the design, and make the space feel high-end, which is also a critical aspect we did not address. Don’t be cheap on the details.
This kitchen has black shelves and a very opulent articulating faucet (you would see what I mean by opulent if you saw the price tag on that faucet). These two elements go together quite well, creating a really sleek feel, but with a high-end look and matching cost. The shelves are made in Italy and the faucet is from an American company. Both are quite expensive, but you can see how they bring the kitchen to a higher level. Also details, details, details! Notice the electrical outlets match the shelves.
Minimalism is Masculine
Let’s look at how minimal aesthetics can be masculine. I am not advising that the entire place be stripped down, but let’s simply remember the words of the great mid twentieth century modernist architect Ludwig Mies Van De Rohe: “less is more.”
In the picture below you will see a concrete bathroom. Notice there are no grout lines. This material is applied to the walls and has a seamless and continuous texture with no joints. This makes it a very unique minimal bathroom. Less is truly more in this bathroom design.
Attention to Detail
I’ve probably said the words “attention to detail” about a thousand times, and I will say it a thousand more. All the details have to be elevated just like the difference between an every day restaurant and fine dining. You need to elevate the design with its details and, in many case, the subtler the better. You do not have to always be in your face about it.
This bathroom has a monolithic design where the walls and floors are all continuous and one material. The linear recessed drain really enhances the monolithic nature by almost disappearing, leaving nothing but a reveal in the floor. This is way cooler than just having a simple round drain in the shower. This bathroom is distinguished and consistent, which is what we are looking for in this type of design.
Masculine Interior Design
I am Jorge Fontan, an architect and owner of Fontan Architecture, a New York City based architecture and interiors firm. The images in this post are from one of our projects in a small loft we renovated a few years ago in the Financial District. We all have different ideas on what a masculine design would look like but this is one example from a specific project where the final result had a very masculine feel.
I understand that writing a blog post about “Masculine Design” is going to bother some people. The truth is that these are real terms that my clients use, both men and women, regardless of orientation, when we discuss their designs. I am using this term as it is generally accepted by the people who I have interacted with throughout the course of my career and life.
Thank You for Reading Our Blog Post on Masculine Apartment Interior design Ideas
I hope this was helpful. If you would like to speak with an architect about a potential project you can contact us at Fontan Architecture directly.
This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.