Sugar and spice or snips and snails

Marrying feminine and masculine interior decorating styles

Despite the blurring of the stereotypical feminine masculine lines in modern culture, there are few exceptions to the instinctive love little girls have for pretty, pink, shiny things and the obsession little boys have for anything that crashes, races, builds and spins; a generalisation for sure, but not without merit.

Whether this natural interest and attraction is part of our nature or nurture is a debate for another website, here we simply look at how these preferences influence the interior decorating styles of women and men in general and, how to get them to work together when they come together.

Feminine interior design can be defined as a style that is as concerned with the aesthetics of a space as it is with the comfort and it generally appeals more to women.

feminine decor

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Masculine interior design tends to focus more on function and practicality and appeals more to men.

masculine decor

Image credits:, 

Bringing these two design styles together can be challenging and is often the reason why the home of a new couple, especially a man and woman who have each or both lived alone for a long time, seems disjointed and awkward. Knowing how to marry these unique styles takes more than compromise.

new home decor

Here are our suggested steps on how to marry interior decorating styles:

Find common ground

Discuss your interests and preferences in colours, styles and art etc. This can include places you’ve travelled to and loved, pictures from interior design magazines that appeal to you, your favourite artist or art piece or your preferred colours. Look for commonality. Agree and establish your style similarities and acknowledge each other’s likes and dislikes.

Traditionally men are drawn to dark neutral colours like black and dark brown while women prefer lighter neutrals and brighter colours.  Deciding a colour palette that will please differing interior design styles can be challenging, but choosing neutral colours for your big investment furniture and finishes is wise as these colours do not date with the changing trends and seasons and will almost always allow you to change your accessories and soft finishes to accommodate brighter colours.

“Our shutters are available in a wide range of colour finishes from masculine dark timber colours to the softer neutrals, pastels and whites, as well as in bespoke customised finishes to match any colour scheme” says Karina Palmer, interior designer and marketing director of AMERICAN shutters. “However, most homeowners and interior designers choose to stay within the natural timber and neutral colour shades because they are timeless and will go with any design style and colour palette.”

samples of wooden shutters


Now make a list all the furniture, finishes and accessories that you have to bring into your shared home and have your partner do the same. Then edit your list; scratching off the pieces you no longer like, need or, having discovered the commonality in the previous step, know will not work for your partner. Present each other with your shortlist.

Must-have and must-go lists

Once you have each gone through the shortlists, allow each other an opportunity to create a must-have and a must-go list, each limited to five items.

The must-have list covers the five items you absolutely cannot live without and are not prepared to sacrifice. The must-go list is a list of the five items belonging to your partner that you could absolutely not live with.


Agree on the most important furniture and finishing elements of your home i.e. floor covering, window treatments, light fittings and large pieces of furniture as these are going to more than likely be the most permanent features of your home and are often the most costly.

When considering these elements keep in mind basic principles of versatility i.e. by choosing to go with wooden floors, one can always add loose carpets or area rugs, by choosing to go with shutters or blinds, one can always accent or accessories with false curtains etc.

“The beauty of shutters is that they are timeless and suit all decorating styles,” says Karina. “From traditional to contemporary, beach house to country cabin, retro to modern; shutters can be finished and installed to complement and enhance whatever style is chosen and more importantly, they allow you to change your style over time.”

The gallery below demonstrates the versatility of shutters and why they are the ideal choice in the home of a new couple.

Shutters and blinds are also 100% gender-neutral; as comfortable in a feminine decorating scheme as they are in a masculine decorating scheme,” says Karina.

Some sound advice on buying your big pieces of furniture is to invest in classic pieces that won’t date as this makes financial sense and will have you agreeing with one another sooner than choosing pieces that are linked to trends or unique personal styles.

Compromise is one of the most valuable lessons any couple or family can learn so use this opportunity to appreciate each other’s individuality and how, through objective discussion, compromise and the development of a unique shared style, you can craft a beautiful comfortable home.

So whether it’s ‘snips and snails’ or ‘sugar and spice’, make sure it’s ‘everything nice’, that your home is made of.

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