Ready to get rid of that old poop brown pleather lazy boy he’s been hanging on to since college? Or the shabby chic living room set she bought in the nineties when that was all the rage? It’s time to update your home and redecorate with a fresh new start. Whether you are moving into a new place together or renovating and updating your existing space, it’s time to come together with your partner and make design decisions….sounds a little scary? No worries, in this blog post I will share my tips for creating a gender neutral space that will appeal to both your masculine and feminine side.
A good percentage of my clients are couples, whether it be heterosexual, same sex, no sex…whatever it is. I believe knowing how to create a gender neutral space is important when you want a home that pleases both parties in a partnership living together. Because let’s face it, two people living together can have very different styles and opinions about what they like.
Whether you describe yourself as male, female or non-binary, we all have masculine and feminine energies (independent of gender). Instead of using the terms masculine and feminine (because we tend to think of those terms as traditionally male and female), I prefer to use the term yin and yang. The ancient Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang is a complex, relational concept that has developed over thousands of years. Briefly put, the meaning of yin and yang is that the universe is governed by a cosmic duality, sets of two opposing and complementing principles or cosmic energies that can be observed in nature.
Generally speaking, yin is characterized as an inward energy that is feminine, still, dark, nurturing, creative, intuitive. On the other hand, yang is characterized as outward energy, masculine, hot, bright, focused, linear and confident. We all have both of these within us, with some energies more prominent than others.
Your home contains both yin and yang, and if you design it thoughtfully you can create a flow where both of these energies can compliment each other and work together. There are areas in your home where you crave more yin (quiet), and areas where there is more yang (energetic). For instance, you will want your bedroom and bathroom to be yin so think about accents in soft pastels and soothing artwork. Living Room and Kitchens are rooms that have more energy, try accents with primary colors like displaying bright yellow bowls on an open kitchen shelf.
8 tips to create a gender neutral space
Neutral Color Palette
This space is both masculine and feminine to me. The soft lounge chair against the black desk, the chevron wood floor and minimal aesthetic. That print on the wall is f@$%! fantastic. Well done Joseph Dirand, because everything you do is perfection and I am almost as obsessed with you as I am with those dark chocolate coconut covered almonds at Trader Joe’s.
2. Use Classic Materials
ugh, I die for this. This is so simple and elegant. The chunky terrazzo back wall and the limestone sink, looks so soft to the touch it makes me want to rub my hands all over it. The dark finish on the faucet and the dark thin metal frame of the mirror makes a beautiful accent against the light stone colors. breathe in…breathe out….ahhhhhhh.
3. Become a Minimalist
Did I just loose you? I hope not. I know it’s an annoyingly overused word these days. I don’t mean throw all your shit away and live like a monk. But I guarantee, when you get rid of a good proportion of your stuff that no longer serves you and only keep the essentials, it lightens you up both physically and mentally. The idea is to keep it modern and simple, the less nicknacks and tchotchke you have cluttering up your home the more gender neutral it will appear. Items you want to avoid displaying in your home, sports trophies (unless you won the PGA or play for the NBA), taxidermy and gaming equipment, guns displayed in a cabinet…you get the idea.
4. Choose Timeless Classics
Invest in a few classics that will stand the test of time. Like the Eames chair designed by husband and wife team Charles and Ray Eames in 1956. It is still so beautiful and timeless, it’s a statement piece that really stands the test time. Going for modern lines instead of traditional silouetttes will keep it more androgynous.
5. Don’t be afraid of color
Start out with a neutral base and add accents of color that can change easily over time, like pillows, drapery, artwork, textiles. If you decide to paint that accent wall yellow, you can repaint it when your over it in four years. There’s no rule with colors, it’s just very personal.
Fun fact, historically, we associate blue with boys and pink with girls, but did you know boys once wore pink? In the mid-19th century, pastel pink and blue were added to the formerly all-white baby palette. Around 1918, a department store proclaimed that pink was for boys, and blue for girls—as pink was considered a stronger color, and blue more delicate. In the 1940s, this color assignment was swapped in response to manufacturer and retailer color interpretations. So this blue/boy pink/girl association was happenstance.
For more of a psychological view on colors and how they make us feel, check out my blog post on the subject here.
6. Select Art Together
It’s a nice way to spend time together right? Going to art gelleries or looking at on-line art galleries. Even better, when you are away on vacation or travelling and you purchase a piece of art together, it has a special meaning and memory. Abstract art is quite neutral, yet can really create a distinct personality if you want it to. Check out my blog post on where to find the best online art here.
7. Mix Materials
A neutral pallette doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Dark metal, light oak, textural fabrics, plant sand flowers. With all of these different combination of materials and textures in a space it becomes more dynamic, cozy and well put together but doesn’t lean towards one side or the other in terms of gender.
8. Style like a Swede
Styling takes talent, that’s why there are people who are experts and do this for a living. I find the Scandinavian designers have a real knack for styling a space in that minimal cozy (Hygge) way, they are so good at. If you need inspiration check out some of my favorite Scandinavian bloggers like My Scandinavian Home, The Design Chaser, Coco Lapine Design, Elle Decoration Sweden
So to go deeper into this topic, there is a whole other conversation on gender neutral and gender identity that’s happening today. There’s an interesting article in Metropolis Magazine by Suzanne Tick, a very well known and prominent textile designer here in the U.S. The topic of the article is about designing for a post gender society. She writes; “In our post-gender world, masculine and feminine definitions are being switched and obscured. But this is an essentially human phenomenon, and we need to design for the accumulation of different human beings who are out there by being respectful to individual needs, and creating environments in which people can have their own individuality”.
And in conclusion, because I love fashion as much as I love interiors, I thought it would be fun to pair up a gender neutral outfit with a neutral space. Hope you enjoy.
and speaking of neutrals……..
Wear This There
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