Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Suit up!

If you lean towards bold, tailored interiors (and maybe pink walls aren't your thing?), then a more masculine approach may be a good way to achieve your design goals.

The use of suiting or other menswear fabrics can help channel that theme. The variety of textures of suiting fabrics will bring wonderful depth to your room, while the quality of these wools, tweeds, and cashmere will stand the test of time.


In this super-refined bedroom, designer Mary McDonald actually upholstered an entire wall in a grey suiting wool by Ralph Lauren and used accent pillows in vintage silk necktie fabrics. I just love the classic, elegant feel of this room; it seems fit for royalty!


In another bedroom by McDonald, a heathered wool flannel covers the armchairs while also serving as drapery material for the windows and canopy. A cool, minty fabric lines the canopy and provides a fresh contrast to all the grey.


Gil Schafer creates a very English feel in this Greenwich Village apartment (which was a collaboration with Miles Redd). The cozy throw across the foot of the bed is a wonderful muted plaid. Can't you just imagine throwing on a great fall blazer in that same fabric!


Although some of these fabrics do tend to run a bit dark, these next two rooms show that you can easily control the intensity by using a lighter, less potent mix of furnishings to still achieve refined masculinity in the space.


The seating area in the study above gets a cozy dose of tweedy upholstery on the sofa and armchair. Designer David Kleinberg knew what a great counterpoint the fabric would be to the clean lines and stark white of the paneling.


In this living room designed by Sean Michael Design, a tailored, mohair velvet couch acts like a nice jacket over a pair of khakis, dressing the space up a touch, but primarily staying on the same level of formality as the rest of the furnishings. 

The interpretation of a suit in the design of your home doesn't need to be quite as literal as the examples above. Merely gaining inspiration from menswear fabrics can have the same effect. The following photos illustrate this idea with wallcoverings that mimic the suiting feel.


In the foyer above, designer Ned Marshall uses pale grey stripes to convey a clean, tailored look.


That idea is repeated here, in another room by Sean Michael Design, where a darker palette adds a bit more drama to this hallway.


In a powder room by Isabel Lopez Quesada, the walls are papered in a pinstripe-like pattern that makes the space feel orderly and neat (while having the added benefit of making the ceilings feel taller).

This apartment is one of Quesada's Chamberi district projects in Madrid, and represents her fascinating style perfectly. If you like crisp, modern interiors, you absolutely must check out her work (especially the library of this apartment)!

Although covering the walls in grey wool may be too intense for me, I do think that bringing in simple, tailored pieces and refined fabrics provides balance to more ornate and vibrant furnishings (such as the colorful patterns on pillows or collections of items lining shelves). That contrast, the positive tension between items in a space, is what, to me, makes for truly striking, engaging design.

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