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The modern man cave

By Ben Weaver - Editor in chief at The London List. @the_london_list


For years we’ve heard guys talk about a “mancave” – a male retreat or sanctuary in the home. But when it comes to interiors, much like fashion and grooming, in recent years, men have become increasingly more sophisticated. They want a stylish city pied-à-terre; somewhere they can entertain and feel at home. Traditionally interior design has revolved around women, but at Ivar the focus is firmly on the modern gentleman, on creating schemes that are contemporary and masculine. It’s not about trends; it’s about quality and creating interiors that have integrity. The key to a successful interior is the ability to edit, to look at something and understand why you like it, it’s intrinsic qualities and what it is that makes it good or bad. If you don’t know where to start, here are some of our top tips to give your interior a lift:

It’s important to avoid your home looking like a cliché. Whilst Don Draper has become something of a male icon, and 1950’s sofas are all the rage, go too far and it risks looking like a film set. An interior should feel collected not decorated with an eclectic mix of furniture from different periods, like an antique French chest next to a contemporary sofa. Try to find things that contrast but are harmonious in their juxtaposition. This takes time to perfect, and if you’re not prepared to put in the work, then it might be worth going to a professional.

Equally, and I would emphasise, and I’m not talking “shabby chic” (a term that quite frankly makes my skin crawl), a few weathered and worn items will make your interior feel more homely and give it character. Steamer trunks or industrial lamp, whilst masculine, remain sophisticated. Try auction houses like Lots Road or scour antique stores on Portobello market. Indeed many stores have online inventories and so you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your armchair.

Typically guys only buy things they intend to use, no bad thing, unless it comes to an interior. Your home will look unfinished and incomplete without lamps, cushions and (completely functionless) decorative accents, like ceramics or tribal figurines.

Rugs are often overlooked. Personally I would keep it simple with block colours, graphic kilims or textured sisals. Avoid busy patterns as it will only distract from the rest of your décor. It’s important to create a balance, and whilst a few statement pieces will give an interior identity, other elements should remain backdrop.

Image by NordWood Themes

For many interiors, the sofa will be a key element, and don’t be tempted to go purely for form over function; choose something with back support in a neutral colour. Almost as important, an interior needs a good accent chair. Personally I would advocate a classic, such as the “PK22” by Poul Kjaerholm or the classic “657” Pollock armchair. Mixing pieces from different periods will make a scheme feel timeless, and in turn, more individual.

Though I may risk stating the obvious, a coffee table isn’t intended as a foot rest, it should be arranged, and it’s not all that complicated: add a few books to show off your interests, whether that’s art, architecture or photography (try Assouline, a personal favourite of mine) and finally a few decorative items like vintage cigar box or Murano ashtray.

In recent years entertaining at home has become increasingly popular and especially the art of cocktail making, so a bar display is a must-have. If you have space a mid-century bar cart would be a wonderful addition, or if not, a simple silver tray will suffice. Invest in bar tools, a good pair of crystal tumblers and the requisite assortment of spirits and mixers.

Finally, art can be a great investment if you know what you’re doing, but if you don’t, then just buy what you like; after all, you’ll be looking at it every day. In my opinion, the bigger the better; people often wrongly assume that large furniture, accessories and art will make a space feel smaller, but in fact the opposite is the case. Try the Affordable Art Fair or look for limited editions at the Saatchi Gallery. A couple of large canvasses will add huge amount of personality to your interior.

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