COTE DE TEXAS: Masculine Design in a Feminine House

Masculine Design in a Feminine House

 

I love feminine decorating.  Can’t help that I do – but I am just drawn to the more feminine side of decorating – using silks and linens and French antiques and mirrors.  I suppose you either like feminine decorating or you don’t.

 

image

For instance – this Mario Buatta Charleston interior just makes my heart beat faster.  No, it’s not trendy or cutting edge, but it’s so feminine and pleasing to the eye.  It’s hard to believe that not everyone loves this style of decorating, but judging from the media examples found in magazines and the internet – they don’t.

Oh.   I’m confused these days.  The magazines show houses and more houses that I don’t understand, much less like.  I flip through them and toss them away faster than I can hit the delete key on my Zinio account. 

But seriously, is it me???   I really want to like an interior that is outside my safe zone , something that isn’t what I am usually attracted to.  There has to be a trendy house – somewhere - that moves me!!  A house that is designed for 2015, that isn’t feminine, but that still excites.  And then, there it is.  In Traditional Home. 

A shock?  Traditional Home?   Yes.  And the biggest shock was it was a masculine design – not feminine at all.  Still, it appealed to me so much – it makes me want to be able to design just like this for a bachelor or a young, fashionable family.

 

image

The exterior.  Please.  What is this???????   Is this not the CUTEST, most ROMANTIC house ever designed?  And it’s a 1929 original.  Not new.   Located in Bloomington, Illinois – the French Tudor house is famous in its neighborhood for its Snow White vibe.  When the owners met a young man who was working down the street – they told him the house was going to be for sale.  He jumped on it because he remembered the house from when he was a boy.  He used to say – “one day I will live there.”    As fate would have it – he bought the house, moved in, and then married those owners’ daughter who had grown up in the house!!!

 

image

Summer Thornton, from Chicago, was hired to renovate the house that she, too, remembers driving by as a child.   Thornton retained the charm of the interior and the exterior, but she updated it for today.  I was so excited to find photographs of this house on Thornton’s web site and couldn’t wait to share them.

 

image

Before we go inside – let’s just admire the exterior for a bit.  Could it be anymore romantic with its welcoming slate steps and white vases that lead to the turreted entry hall.   Notice the French lantern above the door!  Love that detail, along with the weather vane. 

Oh, if I were building a house I would take this photograph to the architect and say – design this exactly.   Then, when my new house was built, I would buy a lounge chair – and put it on the front lawn – and just stare at my house.  I would.  I promise.   And I would wave at all the children driving by wishing that one day they would live there.

 

image

I wish there was a bigger picture of the entry turret – but you can see the original stairs, now with black painted treads.   The floor is a classic limestone with black diamonds, newly laid by Summer.  The leaded windows are original.  Summer gives a clue to the hip vibe inside – with Circa’s Hicks lighting fixture.

 

image

image

BEFORE:  the living room had wall to wall carpet!  Yes!  Summer replaced it with a herringbone pattern wood floor.    Since the ceilings are only 8’ – she painted it all white, walls and ceiling, and added vertical paneling on the walls.  The owner wanted a masculine, monochromatic vibe – but how to achieve this in such a romantic, feminine house?   By using texture and a mixture of handmade materials – Summer achieved the goal. 

 

 image

The living room – is a mix of new and old – with a strong masculine touch.

 

image

I love how Summer added the classic oil paintings to the mix of art deco and mid century design.  I love the symmetry of this vignette.

 

image

The mantel is new.  This view is towards the front of the house.  In the bay is a desk.  I love how the round table was incorporated into the furniture placement.  It acts like an entry table and helps to break up the expanse of the long room with the low ceiling.  The light over it also helps to disguise the low ceiling.  Despite the house being masculine and with a mid century vibe – it’s still warm and comfortable and inviting.

 

 

image

I love the mix of the leather Restoration Hardware wing chair and the fabulous vintage 50s black and brass light fixture.

NOTE:  in a long room with a low ceiling – break the space up with a center table and add a chandelier over it. 

 

image

Another classic oil over the fireplace.  Love the ottoman and mix of chairs.

 

image

In the bay window – is a vintage Art Deco desk.  Love the chair and the etageres.

 

 

image

The dining room before.

 

image

In a change from the white walls, Phillip Jeffries grasscloth wallpaper was added to create a more dreamy mood.  The table was custom made by Summer.  The chairs are Suzanne Kasler for Hickory.  The light fixture is Bradley. 

 

image

But the showstopper is this incredible console in black and brass.  Whoa.

NOTE:  A great way to trend your interior is to hunt for a 50s style console in vintage shops and garage sales.  One piece like this – which you could paint black or gray – could become the focal point of your room.  

 

image

Not seen in Traditional Home is the library, which has paneling – with a gray ceiling,  a big surprise.  The standing lamp is incredible. 

Note:  Summer used a lot of taxidermy – real and faux – in the house which creates a warm feel.   Search E-bay for reasonable specimens.

 

 

image

The kitchen was completely redone.  Fabulous appliances and marble topped island are the focal points.  Remember that Williams Sonoma sells ranges that are somewhat reasonable and have that spectacular look. 

 

 

image

Another view – the stove is between two brick walls, as are wood shelves.

 

image

This wall is tiled in subway tiles up to the ceiling – again to make the ceiling seem higher.  Notice the beautiful cabinets lined in brass.  Sconces are unusual in a kitchen – but flanking the sink – they look great.

 

NOTE:  Create a design element that flows through the house by using sconces.  Summer has them in almost every room.  Be sure to check Restoration Hardware for great looking sconces.

 

 

 

 image

The breakfast room with fireplace and wood store above it – and sitting room.   The floor lamp is so interesting.  I love all of Summer’s hand picked fixtures.

 

image

The sitting room overlooks the backyard.  Midcentury coffee table.

 

image

image

Upstairs – the master bedroom has creamy linens in ivory and black.  Love the painting and the taxidermy. 

 

image

Sitting area.  Notice the shoe rack in the bay – what else can you do with a bay that size?

 

image

Love the new mantel.

 

image

The bathroom carries the décor from downstairs up.  The subway tile, with gray grout, the slate floors, the black frames mimic the windows.  Notice the wood shelf on the vanity and the wood ceiling.  The bathroom is stunning.

 

 

 

image

Another view of the bathroom – shows the wood walls and subway tile wainscot.  Seriously – I have never seen a bathroom like this. 

 

 

image

What do you think?  Did the designer fulfill her assignment:   design a masculine house with a monochromatic scheme that respects the house’s romantic roots but makes it viable for today?

Yes?  I think so. 

Does this design make you rethink feminine versus masculine design?

Yes.

 

Would you ever think about switching your own house from feminine to masculine?

 

NO!!!!!

 

 

To see more wonderful photographs from the designer, go to Summer Thorton Design HERE.

 

53 comments :

  1. I enjoy a mix of masculine and feminine in a room so both sexes can feel comfortable in the room. But I hate the taxidermy look and wish that it would disappear forever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you know - I like it. especially when its real - -like in Bavarian castles where they have masses of the small horns. and i like the fake ones.

      Delete
  2. I think about it all the time Joni. Happy Monday.

    I saw the Valentino documentary (Valentino: The Last Emperor) a few years back & in the special features section his House Manager / Head Butler / Major Domo walks the cameraman through several of Valentino's homes. This special section of the movie was over an hour long!!! His chalet in Staad seemed mixed the masculine and feminine well,-- in a very European way. That movie was wonderful,--and the tour of all the properties made it even more interesting!

    Calling you to discuss this exact dilemma is on my list of top 20 things I am doing after I win this week's Powerball &/or Mega Drawing :) A simple $3 investment that yields an infinite amount of happy dreaming. Thank you for your lovely blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. will you split the winnings with me? Please???????????????????????????????????

      Delete
    2. I am so sad that I did not see your reply until today. I would have ABSOLUTELY shared a ticket with you, what fun! Ever notice how groups tend to win? Doesn't it sound fun to have had zillions to play with? It leaves more than enough to decorate,have fun with and still have a bunch left over to share.

      Delete
  3. Awesome post! We always learn so much from your comments...thanks Joni!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Fairy tale house! Those floors are perfect...as if they have been there as long as the house was standing. The KITCHEN. oh oh oh. Stunning. I am one that recoils at the frilly feminine. Much more drawn to the textural simplicity of the masculine. And so it is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hard to believe there as CARPET in that house!!!!

      Delete
  5. I have always decorated with my husband in mind, not to make things to "girly" but both of us were lovers of antiques and interesting pieces rather than what was trendy at the time. My husband lived in India and England and traveled extensively before he met me, so he came with some pretty nice furnishings :) Together we collected art and various pieces of furniture over the years.
    I am now alone and with all the beautiful things we surrounded ourselves with .. I will be buying a new home and furnishing it .. for the first time alone .. and I will be making that house much more feminine.
    I will use all of our furniture etc but there will be colors and fabrics and rugs that I see as more "girly" than I have now. it is just the kitten and me now, we will make our new nest just for us girls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. so - no recliner? still - I would rather you still have you husband, if he has passed away. If so, I'm so sorry.

      Delete
  6. This house is around the corner from my parent's home. My girls and I referred to as the The Fairy Tale Home and it's one of my favorite homes in Bloomington. We've always admired the exterior and your post has ended our curiousty of the interior. Beautiful both inside and out. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Something that stood out to me was the kitchen. We recently remodeled ours and spent quite a bit in custom cabinetry that was built on-site. Their kitchen has almost no cabinets. They have a free-standing and open island, open shelving on either side of the range, and basically only one bank of lower cabinets on the opposite side of the room, with more open shelving on the top. Now, I don't know where I would store a lot of things that I wouldn't necessarily want "seen"...possibly in the baskets and the cabinetry on the other wall; but when considering what a homeowner spends on cabinetry, you could possibly build a type of kitchen as this one, AND have the beautiful La Cornue range/oven, and highest end refrigeration for the same costs. They also could have a storage closet/pantry connected to the kitchen to alleviate all of the lost storage. I could be wrong, but I know what my kitchen costs, and I believe I could build this one for the same, if not less. Beautiful home and restoration. Thanks again, Joni!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's very possible. The bigger the kitchen you have the more 'stuff' you have. My kitchen is small 2.5 metres by 4metres with no wall cabinets but I have no problem fitting everything in. It just means not hanging on to stuff that you rarely use

      Delete
    2. I actually edited a substantial amount of kitchen items before the remodel. Most of my kitchen supplies are used often, but there is always more room for cleaning out! And I would gladly do so to live in a kitchen with such simplicity. My area is not that big either; however, it's completely surrounded with cabinetry and I really love the cleaner, open look.

      Delete
    3. I would love that kitchen. I need to edit my plates and glasses, etc.

      Delete
  8. I love this house!! My husband would also love it!! Great posting today!! I will think about it all day long and probably longer!!! Thank You!

    ReplyDelete
  9. If it weren't for the hunter's lodge aspects of the design, I would say the main living room strikes an interesting interaction of feminine and masculine. There are many more curves in the room than I associate with a designs that are all-out man-cave. It is so wonderful to see an example of masculine design that is NOT all out man-cave!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love this home! I wonder if the owner will leave the windows bare? Not a drape in site.
    I have always leaned towards a more masculine style interior, however the first photo in your post is so pretty, but I don't think it could be something I could live with long term.
    Great post, makes me think I should renew my Traditional Home subscription!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Absolutely stunning home and yes, I do believe that the designer fulfilled her assignment. I don't think in terms of masculine and feminine design, though, but more in terms of what is comfortable, functional and pleasing, and what is not - probably because I live by myself and don't have to worry about a man's opinion. My only objection is the taxidermy. It's not that I'm tired of it. I just don't like it. Also, could people stop using the term man cave? It sounds so Neanderthal. Thank you, Joni, for showcasing a beautiful home. It is so nice to see a Midwestern home, especially since I lived very close to Bloomington and visited often.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Joni, herringbone, My favorite wood floors ever. I do think an overly feminine home can be a turnoff for a man.
    Not saying you decorate for a man, I decorate for comfort, a great mix of styles and a layered over time look.

    xoxo
    Karena
    Featuring The HighBoy

    ReplyDelete
  13. Just love this! Everything about it. Thanks for the post. Was beginning to miss a longer satisfying post from you. This fulfills!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Love this house! I decorate with men in mind - just like I dress. No man wants to get crazy in a house with frills and pink walls. Total mood killer.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Joni: This is one of the most architecturally beautiful homes I have seen. The decor is masculine but not too masculine. I agree with previous post that the best interior is a combination of masculine/feminine. Saladino homes reflect the balance and Pam Pierce creates the feel. The balance is the soul of the home. Great post and thank you Joni for your incredible eye!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. LOVE LOVE LOVE this house. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. i am very much aware of the masculine/feminine continuum in my space. You did a lovely post on my sweet little Houston house a few years ago. http://cotedetexas.blogspot.com/2011_04_12_archive.html In spite of the largely neutral/black/white palette I felt like it "read" as a feminine space. I have left Houston and moved to Cincinnati and am reinventing my interior personae. Definitely have shifted a little toward the masculine end of the scale. I think this is such an interesting way to think about the spaces we inhabit and I love the way you frame the issue. I also think its fascinating to observe how our sensibilities evolve over time.

    So thanks as always for sharing a gorgeous home and opening up such an interesting discussion.

    Best always
    Melanie Millar

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you moved away??????????????? wow!!!! I am so surprised - and Ohio? omg, you must be freezing!!!! I loved your house and it does remind me a bit of this the way you decorated it.

      Delete
  17. Joni, What a beautiful home! I would be sitting in a lawn chair admiring this home too.
    xx,
    Sherry

    ReplyDelete
  18. Joni, this is the type of post that I love! Thank you for finding something great and helping me to analyze exactly what makes it work!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Who wouldn't love a house like that? I, too, would just sit in a lawn chair in the front yard and admire it - though I'd prefer the original 1929 to a new copy for the patina of the years. There were a couple of houses like this - what I call Norman - in our old neighborhood that I would walk by and sigh over. As for masculine and feminine decorating - I think that's a very interesting question. I have always had a household of males, and though I have feminine tendencies (I do love some florals and an English country type look), I've always restrained myself because I knew the guys wouldn't like it. So, I've had lots of masculine elements - stained woodwork (original to the 1920's house), antiques with simple straight lines instead of curved and carved, and patinaed wood finishes, some leather, and more texture than pattern (though I can't resist and throw in some on pillows), a little more rustic in feel. The first picture is a little too frou-frou and formal for me, though I do like it and it appeals to my southern roots. The guys in my family definitely would not. So I tried for a balance. As for this interior, I can't say I love it, though there are things that I do like: the bathroom (though where does all the cosmetic and toiletry stuff go?), the bare windows, the floors, the sitting room, the overall simplicity. Don't care for all the taxidermy and I'm not a fan of mid-century furniture. I can't help but wish there was something French on the interior that echoed the architecture, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only thing that I would totally love to steal are the herringbone wood floors! Otherwise, to me the inside does not match the outside. The dining room is very modern. Judging from the interior decorating, the outside could be a sleek contemporary block.

      Delete
    2. I agree wholeheartedly! I expected to see a romantic interior to match the exterior. The floors, however, are superb!

      Delete
  20. Joni: Thanks so much for sharing this home with us and your great "notes" about what to take-away! The wonderful exterior makes me wonder why oh why more new builds in Houston couldn't like just like this. Instead, the new builds often try to hard and don't have the charm of this one. I've always thought of homes or rooms as leaning toward the masculine or feminine and it's great to see a more "masculine" home that is cozy without florals, lots of china and frilly curtains. Although I've never like a lot of mid-century furniture, that era did have some wonderful lighting and interesting pieces, like that wonderful dining room console! And as you said, so refreshing to see a different style of decorating that is so interesting and well executed. IMO, man of the magazine spreads these days are so predictable or when they try to be different or eclectic, end up being down right ugly! Leaving me to think, like you, that perhaps I just can't appreciate a style that isn't similar to my own? So, thanks for sharing this home and making me feel like I can be open-minded. Although I don't love every furnishing in this house, it still gets an A+!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I love this house, the designer did a outstanding job. I think one reason this all works so well is the mix, using antiques, traditional things, along with the more modern pieces. I've been to Bloomington several times, my daughter lives in Washington, about 20 minutes away - very nice area of Illinois. Speaking of masculine/feminine design - recently Design Sponge did a essay on "doing away with gender based designs" and they evidently think everything should be "gender neutral". Design Sponge will no longer refer to anything as being masculine or feminine because they don't want to offend any "transgender" people. I think this is over the top, over thinking things, and quite frankly - ridiculous. Be sure to read Grace Bonney's comments. Thanks for this lovely post!

    ReplyDelete
  22. This house was very nicely done. I agree with you about most of the new design trends. I love Mario Buatta, and I miss Charles Faudree!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Had me with the Rooster weathervane. Then the vanishing threshold into the large window. Color theme, accents, sweetness of proportion, charm. Lack of ego. Seems to more than trump 'grandeur'.

    They left the staining on the roof, bless them for that !

    This 'look' has much from the past, yet something 'new' about it. Love that fact.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

    ReplyDelete
  24. The floors, the kitchen, the bathroom and the windows are spectacular in this home.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I loved this house when the magazine came out and it was even better seeing it here. I think it's one of my all time favorite houses. The decor is such an interesting mix---I really admire the ability to pull that off. I'd have Summer Thornton do my house in a hot minute. (Not that I can afford it.) Thanks for the fun article.

    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
  26. Beautiful exterior, disappointing interior.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I live an 1 1/2 from Bloomington, IL....now I must find this home and see it in person!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Joni- I'm with you! While I appreciate the beautiful bones of this house, I much prefer the top picture of the colorful Charleston house. Who wants to live in a colorless chocolate box? Here's to "Southern Charm" coming back on Bravo in March so we can see more of this glamorous home and it's delicious owner.

    ReplyDelete
  29. This house is my iideal dream house on the exterior but the interior does not fit with the exterior. It is not that the designer ruined the home, but the furnishing are too extreme- I think that a mix of masculine and feminine works best. In this house- there is no hint of feminine -the romance is gone. The only room I like is the kitchen. Still, with some simple changes in furnishing and especially lighting, it could be lovely. To each his own. Barbara @ Far Hills Florist

    ReplyDelete
  30. Joni, thanks for showing us this beautiful house! It might be my favorite or at least very close to the top. I love the mix of styles and soothing colors, I'll be studying these pictures for a while. One thing that definitely jumped out at me is the impact of beautiful lighting fixtures, they are statement makers in these rooms. All of it is just lovely!

    ReplyDelete
  31. The outside of the house is indeed fairytale like. I'm wondering if the interiors were done before or after the owner married. If before, I wonder if his new bride made any feminine changes.

    ReplyDelete
  32. The interior is redundant in color, texture and style and makes the home boring. The architectural design of this home calls for softer elements and while the designer may have completed the job in accordance with her mandate, in my opinion, the mandate from the client shows a real disconnect between what the architecture requires and their taste. Every room in this house looks a like except the kitchen. Such a waste of resources.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Ahhhh.... I've visited this post an embarrassing amount of times just since yesterday. What don't I love? - nothing. I find it very inviting, livable, and lovable. My brother lives in Bloomington, never knew something like this was there! I dream of herringbone floors, and not just any - but these, done like Paris apartments. I've only been in one Paris apartment and that apartment floor was just as I had seen in many design magazines.. and this house has it too. So well done. I'm with you on the taxidermy. Real and faux - love it all. And, that bathroom with the paneling. And, those brass fixtures. Ah! Thank you for posting, now I must go look at it some more.

    Sandy

    ReplyDelete
  34. Came back to look at this house again - I love it even more now. I think the designer and the homeowner did a spectacular job bridging the old & new. To me, the exterior goes perfectly with the interior for the year 2015. I am so glad they didn't mess with the exterior. I still cannot get over that RHOBH house you showed a few weeks ago, what a mess that couple made of it - inside and outside! I agree with the comment above, the floors & windows on this house are just perfect. I'm not a big fan of taxidermy either - it works here though. I do love the old paintings, the brass, it goes very well with this house - I also noticed the old top hat on the chest of drawers in the bedroom - these touches really are a nod to the past and work so well in this house.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have a designer friend who has a ranch outside my town. I asked her husband if he minded the feminine decor. (he had a masculine office/study) and he just smiled and said "I look good on lace." I laughed my head off. He was secure enough in himself that "if it makes my baby happy, it makes me happy."

    ReplyDelete
  36. I love having spaces in my house that feel more feminine and those that feel more masculine, spaces for day, and spaces geared more for evening. My dressing room and bedroom are feminine, but the living room and study, and back entry/mudroom feel more masculine. The breakfast room (obviously) is geared for daytime, and the dining room feels wonderful at night. Although I don't believe that men only like or want certain colors (he wears pink ties! :) I do want my husband to feel at home in our house, and I have different moods as well. This was a lovely post Joni, as all of your posts are! xo, N.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This house is perfection!! I do not care for feminine décor at all, can't stand French especially so this really blew me away. Love it!!!! great post Joni ,as usual. :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Love it! Fashion forward. Every once in a while a house makes a leap and it gives you a peep at color and shapes to come. This is one, thank you!! I am inspired.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Joni
    Another great CDT post! I was surprised that you didn't feel the house needs a facelift- I love the charm of decay like you do, but it seems a little tired- I would probably clean the roof, change the paint to a pale taupe, and add some creeping fig plus some topiary and trim that maple tree back-
    As for the interiors, they seemed very Restoration Hardware like- maybe they look better in person- but the images conveyed your point well about how a masculine look can be executed in an old world milieu,
    so congrats on another fabulous post!
    Dean

    ReplyDelete
  40. how did i miss this issue of TH?!
    summer used to buy at my chicago shop before i closed it, she was a favorite. i have a masculine aesthetic (a boy house) and love what she did, as unique as the architecture. brilliant
    debra

    ReplyDelete
  41. You’ve made some good points there. It’s a good idea! Please visit http://goo.gl/7WsYCe

    ReplyDelete