This is an idea I’ve been kicking around for a little while. However, don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t intended to be as intense and drawn out as my Staples series. Rather, it will be a breakdown of some of the essential items in a man’s home that deserve focus.
The purpose of designing your living quarters should be three-fold. First, it should be functional. It doesn’t matter how great something looks, smells, or seems if it doesn’t accomplish its primary goal. Second, it should be a place that makes the man living there comfortable. For some men, this means an extreme minimalism about which they don’t need to concern themselves. For others, it means a well-curated home that shows off mementos and reminders of experiences, travels, events, and hobbies. Third, it should be a place in which other people want to be. Whether you’re like me and have a wife and children who also live with you, or you’re a free-roaming bachelor who lives on his own, we all have other people in our living space. We want it to be something that makes them comfortable and want to be around us more. Just like with clothing, the way our homes look can say a lot about us.
One of the central points in a man’s home is the living room, and one of the central points of the living room is the sofa. Whether he lives in a studio apartment or a luxury villa in Italy, any and every man should have a sofa. It’s a place to sit upright and socialize, get work done (I’m on mine as I type this right now), relax after a long day of work, or even crash for a quick nap.
And yes, a sofa is better than a row of recliners or other alternatives. Odd chairs look great in a living room, but the common space offered by a sofa makes people more conversational and can also make it easier to participate in other shared activities.
So what does a masculine sofa look like? It’s obvious that things like excess frilling, feminine patterns, and beer-stained cushions are all to be avoided. Here’s an idea of what to shoot for.
You’ll notice that there are good representations of all three archetypes of style. The mid century and modern are more Rakish, the industrial and rustic are more Rugged, and the preppy and vintage are more Refined.
After looking through a few hundred pictures, I started notice some trends in the sofas that looked inherently masculine:
- Most had arms that were as high as the back. This gives them an overall lower stance, making them appear broader and more aggressive.
- Darker or bolder colors were used. This may have been in the sofa itself or with the throw blankets and/or pillows. A little unapologetic contrast is a good way to show a man lives in the home.
- Most were made from materials that are traditionally associated with masculinity. Leather, fur, brass, canvas, dark wood, and even denim can work well on a sofa.
- While many had a few accent items thrown on, none went overboard. A few pillows and a blanket shows intentionality. Going all Jan Levinson makes anyone look crazy.
Finding the right sofa can be an exercise in patience. Buying something brand new can be prohibitively expensive. Even popular vintage pieces like mid-century leathers and chesterfields can cost an arm and a leg. Using consignment shops, craigslist, antique stores, and keeping an eye on sales at regular furniture shops will make it easier to find the right piece at the right price.