Gentleman’s Loft

Photography by Stacey Brandford

Posted on Feb 4, 2011

Embarking on a redecoration of a bachelor pad is a task rife with stereotypes and macho themes. Immediately, one conjures up images of black leather, chrome, empty Crown Royal bottles, giant TVs and stereo equipment stacked to the ceiling. This need not be the first visual you associate with the modern bachelor, but it can be tricky to steer clear of all these connotations and arrive at fresh, intelligent approach to the challenge of designing a home for the modern single man.
Gentleman’s Loft

Having known, (and decorated for) a few bachelors over the course of my design career, I’ve become all too familiar with the pattern that ensues, and it goes like this: boy decorates to celebrate his macho singledom, boy meets girl and decides to settle down, girl vetoes all of boys furnishings, and … the cycle of decorating begins again (after a few “debates” on what should stay and go).

Perhaps it would be helpful if we started by re-establishing the terminology and substituting the word gentleman for bachelor, and quarters for pad. So, bachelor pad becomes gentleman’s quarters. Immediately we’ve ditched the unsavoury overtones of lascivious behaviour and bad-boy antics in favour of a more sophisticated approach to living.

Be Inspired, Not Overwhelmed

There was an undeniable cool factor in this loft space, thanks to the former use of the building – it was a baseball glove factory. Immediately, this fact would be a draw for any single, sports-loving guy, and might provide ample inspiration for design motifs. But, instead of going hog wild with an all-star sports vibe, we embraced the baseball legacy quietly and discreetly. After designing a custom bed, covered in a most daring dragon fabric, we opted to use distressed brown leather on the side rails. It’s practical and durable, but a bit manly too. No jerseys, no gloves, no bats needed.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The P Word.

P is for pattern. Pattern doesn’t need to be defined as floral, cutesy and feminine, and it definitely doesn’t need to be avoided by all bachelors. I think pattern brings interest and excitement, dynamism and colour to any room, and it would be a missed opportunity to forego it altogether. The jumping off point that got the creative juices flowing was the bold dragon print fabric from Schumacher featuring saturated hues of turquoise, teal, red and ochre. As soon as we’d embraced the dragon aesthetic, it was clear that the macho leather palace had been left in the dust. Suffice it to say that not all clients want a bedroom that is peppered with primary tones, but our client had said he wanted “POW!” so that’s exactly what we tried to deliver.

Gentleman's Loft

Embrace The Industrial Age

When furnishing a loft space with the agenda of trying to add warmth, be sure to seek out unique and unusual elements. Instead of opting for run-of-the-mill “modern” and big, boxy furnishings, you can have fun introducing accents with a story to tell and a past history. A pair of industrial shop tables can adapt to become flexible stools at the foot of the bed, a vintage ladder creates a whimsical play on scale, and a pair of tire moulds can be turned into show-stopping mirrors. When balanced with an equivalent infusion of finer furnishings, these rough and ready elements add patina and keep the mood youthful and fun.

Gentleman's Loft

The Save

Let’s be realistic and admit that not every home is a lifetime purchase. A one-bedroom loft is good for a while, and an opportunity not to be missed if you can swing it (I lived in two of them, and savoured every moment of my downtown hipster days), but it’s likely not the lifestyle choice for a lifetime. When considering where to put the decorating dollars, I think it makes the most sense to be frugal on all the fixings, which may not move easily to your next domicile. When the job calls for about 60 yards of fabric to dress the windows, you can bet I’m hitting the bargain bins to help realize my vision of adding softness and texture to the room. Keep in mind that if you’ve got tall windows, and if you select a neutral fabric that can easily be worked into another scheme, you can always repurpose your window coverings and use them in another home in the future (or sell them to the new owner when the time comes to move on).

Gentleman's Loft

The Splurge

The modern man can’t be all hard edges, and neither can his home. A polished concrete floor presents an aura of undeniable hipness, but there’s more to life than being trendy and edgy. By layering a luxurious semi-antique Persian carpet over industrially inspired concrete, you can temper your cool with some warmth. The caveat here is that big spaces demand large floor coverings, so if you’re warming it up, you need to do it right and select a carpet that is proportionately equivalent to the size of your space. Herein enters the splurge factor. We found a fabulous carpet, on sale for just under $3,000, but we’re confident that this purchase is appropriate for the long haul (and can easily be relocated to another home, and will retain its value as it continues to age).

The Signature Sarah

Some think that open concept homes eliminate the options for multiple paint colours. I do not subscribe to that opinion and enjoy experimenting with various hues. When I enter a home, I like to see one room revealed against the next and enjoy the play of layered colours within a single sightline. Even if your home doesn’t have distinct “rooms” defined by doors and trim, I heartily encourage you to mix it up and avoid the temptation to keep it all consistently bland and beige. Anywhere you have a corner, you can change it up and break from one hue to another. You’ll always have a better chance of success if you break the colour on an inside corner, but if you’ve got a steady hand, feel free to cut the line on a visible outside edge, too. Think of the fun you can have when creating blocks of colour as opposed to a uniform monotone!

Sources

Area rug – Turco Persian Rug Co., www.turcopersian.com | Bed, chair fabric – Schumacher available through Bilbrough & Co., www.schumacher.com | Custom bed – Sarah Richardson Design, www.sarahrichardsondesigncom | Drapery fabric, leather for bed rails – Designer Fabrics, www.designerfabrics.ca | Mattress, mattress pad, duvet, sleeping pillows – Ikea, www.ikea.com | Plaid pillow fabric, red pillow fabric – Leo's Textiles, www.leostextiles.com | Pillow sewing – Wesley Seto Designs, 416-538-3223 | Red column table, blue metal stools, yellow ladder, round mirrors, glass beakers, red console, teal vases – Queen West Antique Centre, 416-588-2212 | Custom marble tabletop – Elite Stone Design Corp., www.elitestone.ca | Walnut bedside tables – Patina Antiques, 416-862-8880 | Yellow lamps, vintage stripe blanket, green glass dish – Eclectisaurus, www.eclectisaurus.com | Pendant light – Ministry of the Interior, www.ministryoftheinterior.com | Sheets, duvet cover – The Real Canadian Superstore, www.superstore.ca | Track lighting – Universal Lighting, www.greatlighting.com | Vintage alarm clock – Morba, www.morba.ca | Framing of memorabilia – Elgin Picture & Frame, www.elginpictureandframe.com | Coverlet – West Elm, www.westelm.com | Coat tree, red box – Chair Table Lamp, chairtablelamp.blogspot.com | Framed photography – Canvas Gallery, www.canvasgallery.ca | Floor lamp – Philz, 416-461-9913 | Bookends – Decorum Decorative Finds, 416-966-6829 | Paint Colours – Para Paints, www.para.com. Walls: Coin Silver P2146-04, Accent wall: Blue P5012-63, Hallway: Express Yourself P5047-41

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