Lately I have been spending more time with men a decade or so younger than me. These are guys who I am proud to say are moving into this world with their heads held high and their goals in order. Its very encouraging. One thing that seems to become a topic of conversation once or twice a year is the design of their homes. Small space homes specifically as we live in a very dense urban environment.
Over the last few years I have written a number of emails, scoured the internet for relevant images and sent some guys off what I think are good designs for the young bachelor. So when a couple guys asked me the same favor recently, I promised that I would put up an online reference in order to make things easier for all of us.
So here it is, part 1: The Living Room
This is where a guy will spend a lot of his time while at home. I have my stereo, record player and listening chair here. I have a TV, a couch and a rocking chair as well. This room must serve more than one purpose (for me listening to music, watching films and entertaining) and yet space dictates that it will need to be thought out well.
This is likely the largest item in the living and will be the most useful. In my opinion it should be as minimal as possible while still retaining its comfort. I like leather for its ease of use, durability and its timeless design.
After the sofa a good chair or two is necessary to keep the space multi functional. There are a lot of options out there for all sorts of budgets, but again a good chair is something that will easily last your whole life so its worth the investment even if it seems expensive. For myself, these chairs by Danish furniture designers Preben Fabricius & Jørgen Kastholm is what I see when I think of a masculine style living space. Their designs are simple, comfortable and high quality. They look just as good in a modern space as they did in the 1960’s. And I love leather and steel. These are available at Montauk Sofa based out of Montreal, Canada.
This is the easiest item to overlook but its importance lies in bringing the room together. While seating is generally going to be made of only a few different materials (cloth, wood, steel and leather) cocktail and coffee tables can be made of almost anything. This comes down to personal preference, and mine is metal and stone or solid surfacing. When it comes to my own designs I have a near obsession with building things to last, both through high quality materials and construction as well as the ease for someone many years from now deciding to restore the pieces.
These two cocktail tables use Jade as the surface and gold plated steel as the legs. Jade is the hardest stone on earth and is nearly unbreakable. Its also non porous so is completely stain resistant which is absolutely necessary when dealing with cocktail and coffee stains. Gold does not tarnish and for this reason does not require a lacquer overcoat which makes things difficult for refinishing.
Marble is likely the most common type of surfacing for cocktail and coffee table. Personally I do not like white marble for tables as marble is very soft and porous. Stains that are left for any time can soak into the stone permanently. There is a very extensive list of rules for dealing with marble which I don’t like. Basically anything that I enjoy to drink (alcohol, juices, coffee, etc) is not good for the surface of marble. Coasters MUST be used and all drips and stains can be permanent and using a sealer is recommended. This is basically the opposite of jade where absolutely nothing has to be done to it, and nothing can damage it. Cost is the biggest factor however, and marble is extremely cheap at around $400 per tonne!
Another option for stone that I like is onyx. It is quite hard, and while not nearly as strong as jade, it is still a good choice for cocktail tables. It has a unique look and the colouring is often in masculine tones. It is also slightly translucent which gives other options for the stone in regards to back lighting. The downside of onyx is the price, which is higher than that of marble but the upside is that it is a far more valuable stone.
Not exactly last, and certainly not least is the classic wood and steel tables. Wood is a decent option and can often have a long life of its own if one is willing to refinish it every so often. Most people want a carefree table but at the moment the current trend of reclaimed and raw is anything but maintenance free. Unfinished wood soaks up anything the moment it touches it. Even water will stain unfinished wood. A lacquered finish takes away so much of what people desire in trending furniture. Also not to be overlooked, like most trends there can be a lot of misinformation out there. The image below I thought was a good clean look so I searched for the designer and builder. It turns out this a white label product and is massed produced and resold by online retailers. Not that this matters, but to some people they are purchasing under the idea that they are getting a “reclaimed” furniture piece when the reality is that the wood is aged in a factory and given a life story.
Ultimately furniture is a personal decision, but I never recommend people to rush into the situation with only a part of the equation in mind. I endorse the high-low philosophy which means that an expensive well executed piece can be paired with another item of far less value. This is why I start with the sofa, chairs and tables. These are the big ticket items that people should not cheap out on. Over the life of a good high quality product the price is often $10 a month, with the added bonus that it can be sold for exactly the same price or even more than the original purchase price. This is something that is not possible with budget furniture.