Welcome to Interior Design Demystified, where Christiane Lemieux, co-founder and CEO of The Inside, identifies the latest interior design trends and explains how to make them work in your home. We know cultivating a fun, on-trend space isn't always easy — especially on a budget. That's why Christiane is bringing in the big guns — aka her friends and mentors in the business — to help break it all down for us. Think of it like having an interior designer always on call.
For decades, menswear has served as both an inspiration and reference point for interior design. Particularly as we head into the colder months and transition away from the breezy effortlessness of summer style, it evokes a glamour that feels especially timely — a natural return to layering and texturizing. And, most importantly, we’ve finally reached a point where cultivating an interior with a masculine edge is no longer synonymous with the sterile bachelor pad stereotype.
No one knows this better than New York-based dealer, stylist, and designer Michael Bargo, who seamlessly blends past and present, East and West and high and low, into effortless, unexpected interiors. Below, he shares some of his top tips for infusing the magic of menswear and masculine-inspired, architectural design into any space.
Playing with textures is a key element of menswear-inspired interiors. “I typically gravitate toward velvets and cow hides – especially for durability, as I have two cats and a dog,” says Michael. “These textures also bring a great natural element that feels grounding and warm.”
If you start with a leather sofa, it’s as simple as adding a cashmere throw blanket and a luxe velvet pillow – think about dressing your sofa much like you would accessorize your cold-weather outfit.
Focus on Accents
Bring in small pops of print through accent pieces. “An easy way to incorporate subtle elements of pattern is through tactile and colorful rugs and accessories. My go-to for capturing instant visual interest is a great Noguchi paper lamp," Michael shares.
Whether it’s a decorative screen or a cocktail ottoman, accent pieces are a great, non-permanent way to instantly add depth and personality.
“In most spaces I design, the bulk of the room features straightforward, simple, clean lines,” he said. “But there’s usually one element that’s a bit more whimsical or rounded – whether it’s a beautiful round table, or a sofa with a curved back.”
This juxtaposition gives those special pieces room to breathe. You can also seek out classic silhouettes paired with a chicly tailored stripe — essentially the furniture version of the perfect suit.
Make It Monochromatic
The very essence of monochrome is picking one color and sticking to it. Repeat it in different shades, saturations and applications.
“When you start building a palette, make sure it’s tactile — success in a monochromatic room happens through a mixture of textures, so each color variation reads, feels and catches light differently.”
But, he says, never be afraid to bend the rules: “While I always tend towards monochromatic to start, the best rooms also have a little bit of color, even if it’s the smallest touch in a ceramic or piece of art.”