Design Tips With DC Interiors – Gender Neutral Decor

Written by: Subi Shehaan

9aWith the wedding season in full swing, the next natural thing for couples to bicker about is what colors to choose to decorate the new place they are about to move into and call home. She may want pink undertones, and he may want to lean towards dark grays. She may want soft bean bags to be comfortable in, while he is all about Lazy-boy dark leather recliners. Short of untying the knot he just tied, there is a way to compromise on colors and decor between genders so that both are equally happy with the choices made. While I may be biased in saying soft and bright colors are easy on the eyes, and curves are more flow-friendly than angular edges, mixing up the two extremes creates a more powerful result than keeping to one particular theme altogether. So folks, it just might be more fun to argue less about who gets more say in the type of furniture to buy (although happy wife, happy life. Just saying) and find ways to fusion up all your ideas to create a cohesive oasis for your happily ever after. Till you move in to the next oasis, that is.  With the seller’s market still going strong, you never know how soon that may be so even as you find your differences are being eaten alive at the dinner table, just remember that it may not be worth it to fight long battles over colors when your time in this particular home may be short term.

There are no colors that are male or female-specific, although it is something we have grown to adapt to over the years because it was naturally put into our heads. You’ve seen men wear pink shirts and ladies sport blue proudly, so there is nothing wrong with wanting to work with shades that are not normally associated with your sex. It’s how you combine the colors and mesh together your decor that really matters and speak volume about your tasteful skills in combining styles and tones to meet your needs.

2I briefly mentioned pink undertones as being feminine, but when combined with the right neutral shades such as gray or black, the color instantly adapts to its environment and absorbs the surrounding in such a way it is no longer screaming pink. To the left is a softer side of pink known as lilac or even coral pink, or perhaps dusty pink. You can see in this example that both genders can live happily in this space without feeling that one color is more dominant than the other, as his gray accent wall and black framed furniture is speaking to him while the rather toned-down feminine colors work well in both their favours.  A match made for newlyweds, as this decor was indeed designed for.

There are further examples of combining colors that you normally wouldn’t think would work to please both husband and wife. When the mention of a dark color comes up, there is often a frown of dissatisfaction on the wife’s face. We ladies like more space, brighter environment, and colorful accents whereas men prefer the dark and sombre shades to create an intimate surrounding to relax in. So when dark colors are thrown in the mix, there is a conflict of preferences that are often difficult to settle. However, there is a way around this dilemma. Say you both have been up and down paint stores bringing back sample chips or small sample paint cans to throw on the wall hoping that eventually you would settle on one color, and say you are leaning towards a softer shade of white and he towards a darker shade of chocolate (which to you looks like muddy mud even though he had sugar coated the paint color to sound more sweet than it really is), what would be the ultimate deal breaker? Short of agreeing to disagree, both colors can be artfully combined to complement and work cohesively together.


In this example, the large space is not compromised by dark ‘muddy’ walls as it rather complements the lighter hues of cream and blue and makes the latter colors stand out in bright contrast. Neither colors are fighting against each other, but rather settling in their own given niche in harmonious unity.  To achieve such cohesiveness, think about combining your preferences, even when both are in extreme ends of the spectrum. You might be surprised at the outcome.

When it comes to style, modern is always on the other end of traditional. Many couples are often at odds when it comes to settling on a particular style. He almost always wants clean lines and contemporary accessories, whereas she may prefer traditional tufts and crystals. If I suggest the following combinations, I think the first thing you would do is walk away from this article believing me to have no authenticity in what I am preaching: his clean lines of stainless steel and dark wood against her Victorian style accessories sitting next to his modern leather sofa with glass, steel, LED strip lighting, all on her soft shag carpet along with bursts of her favorite purple accents. Does this paint a confusing picture of a style era gone wrong? You would think so at first, but take a look at the following penthouse decorated in a transitional to suit the needs of a young couple:


Sometimes, going against the norm and the usual mixes of what we are used to might be the ultimate move in the right direction to please both sexes.

The other major conflicts between couples are the prices of items. Some of us believe strongly in ‘you get what you pay for’ and thereby we settle for anything cheap in the hopes of replacing it later for what we really want while others believe in ‘buying that expensive good quality item so that you only cry once’. Some always buy things on sale just because they are whether they may need it or not, and others wait to save up for that pricey-but-oh-so-perfect piece even it breaks their bank account. Again, I stress on combining and compromising even when it seems impossible. When it comes to decorating a space, invest in good workmanship for the main pieces to be used often (ie sofa, area rug, chairs) while keeping accent furniture and accessories on the less expensive side. This trick actually fools the eyes into thinking all pieces in the room are expensive. An example of this can be one wearing an Armani suit only to pair it up with a $10 tie. The space shown here demonstrates this well:


The very expensive upholstered bed with nail heads, American Drew office desk and The Bombay armchair are the most expensive items in this space. The frames enclosing the kids’ photos are from Walmart, the dresser is from ikea, and the night tables were bought at a discounted outlet store selling floor models. The combination of expensive and inexpensive pieces ultimately elevates the value of the cheaper items.

It’s not always easy to compromise and settle our differences, but armed with the right approach and the willingness to work out our various preferences, both the sexes can bring into their living space a little bit of each other. Go wild with styles and colors, don’t hold back on the important things and at the end of the day, create a home that is a perfect combination of you and your better half. Stamp your style in every corner without it being just yours, and take into consideration that even if one of you have an outrageous idea that doesn’t sit well with the other, just remember that being unique is the key to how you approach and live out your life. Happy Decorating!


me professionalSubi Shehaan is the award winning founder of Design Contours (DC Interiors) established in 2008 which specializes in interior designing, home staging, and renovations in Toronto. Her company is catered towards residential owners – simple residential room decor to large interior renovations and basement finishing. Apart from residential projects, she has completed commercial projects including law offices, restaurants, home builder’s sales offices, real estate offices, and college reception area. You can see more of her work on Design Contours or DC Interiors.

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