- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Kerry Touchette, an interior designer in Northwest, does not expect too many single men to pick up the phone and call him for help in home design.

“A single guy won’t call unless he’s pushed into it by someone,” says Mr. Touchette, president of Kerry Touchette Interiors and of the American Society of Interior Designers Washington Metropolitan Chapter. “They live like frat boys unless they’re sophisticated. They don’t think of those things unless their mothers or families used [to] when they were growing up.”

Many bachelors may not realize they can design their homes to be attractive and welcoming while maintaining masculine appeal, metro-area interior designers say. They may want to entertain or have female guests for a visit, and a disorganized, haphazardly designed bachelor pad may not be their best choice for impressing.

“It’s getting them to do things that they don’t see as necessary,” says Walter Gagliano, an independent interior designer in Northwest.

Bachelors have a few things to consider when it comes to furniture, wall and floor coverings, and accessories — including anything from paintings and poster art to mirrors, jars and vases, sculptures, and artifacts — to move past their single, college-student days to sophistication.

“It’s all about accessorizing. When you bring in plants and artwork, then it starts to make the space feel more pulled together,” says Lee Snijders, host and designer for HGTV’s “Design on a Dime,” a room-by-room makeover show.

For instance, Mr. Snijders suggests selecting silver and brushed nickel accessories on furniture with dark wood stains and solid colors, plaids, stripes, and basic linear and geometric shapes for fabrics.

“If I were designing for a guy, I would steer clear of floral fabrics,” says Tito Piccolo, president of Barti Associates Inc., an interior design firm in Arlington. “I would use fabrics, surfaces and furniture that are low maintenance. I would use the materials that clean easily, that don’t absorb liquids, that can’t be spotted.”

Mr. Gagliano encourages his clients to select accessories that are more personal, such as those from a collection or hobby.

“A lot of times, people don’t think their stuff is good enough to be shown,” he says.

Accessories can be used to pull together the elements in a room, preferably through a few tasteful objects rather than several small pieces, says Patrick J. Baglino Jr., principal of Patrick J. Baglino Interior Design in Northwest.

“A few select, special items are going to show off well rather than little things placed everywhere,” he says.

An accessory or central wall piece can be used as a room’s focal point, which, for most men, is the entertainment center, Mr. Snijders says. He suggests painting the wall behind an entertainment center or fireplace a different color from the rest of the room, such as a dark color versus a lighter color or white. If a painting is the focal point, using the painting’s least dominant color for the walls and some of its other colors to accessorize can help create a balance of color, he says.

Leaving the walls “contractor white” is not very inspiring, Mr. Baglino says.

Mr. Baglino suggests picking a color palette for the entire house and painting one room at a time.

The colors should be ones the bachelor likes that could reveal something about himself, says Barbara Hawthorn, principal of Barbara Hawthorn Interiors Ltd. in McLean.

“It says to another person who he is. It really sets off his own identity,” Ms. Hawthorn says. “The color sets the whole sense of the mood and tone.”

Likewise, purchasing all leather can come across as too cold in mood, says Melissa Birdsong, vice president of trend forecasting and design for Lowe’s Inc. in Mooresville, N.C.

“Combining materials [and textures] makes a room more interesting. It keeps it from looking plotted, out of the box,” Ms. Birdsong says.

Fabrics for furniture and accessories can vary but should complement one another and, perhaps, pull in some of the wall colors, Mr. Baglino says.

“It’s a little more dynamic. It creates a lot more interest,” he says.

Wood stains on furniture can be mixed and matched and tied together with accessories, Mr. Snijders says. Cross referencing, or placing objects that match one piece of furniture on top of a piece of a different color, is one method, he says.

Furniture is best selected according to function, taste and the scale and size of a room, Mr. Baglino says. Function includes who and when the bachelor wants to entertain, his lifestyle, and how he wants to live in the space, he explains.

“He should think of furniture that can be used in a combination of ways,” Ms. Hawthorn says. “He should look at using pieces that are versatile or interchangeable.”

Those pieces should be easily movable and not too heavy, she says.

“His hard furnishings should have lots of organizational interior space,” she says. “So, if he needs to whip through the apartment and clean it up in 10 minutes, there are places to put everything and make it look organized and neat.”

The bedroom and bathroom also need some attention.

Mr. Snijders recommends selecting matching bedding for the bedroom and matching towels and bathroom accessories, perhaps stainless steel or brushed nickel for the bathroom.

A flat or box bed skirt is Mr. Piccolo’s suggestion for the bedding.

“Keep the look very tailored,” he suggests. “I would stay away from ruffles for a bachelor.”

In the kitchen, Mr. Snijders recommends using square- or rectangular-shaped hardware and painting the walls a color common in food to stimulate the appetite. The finish of the hardware should match the finish of the faucets and appliances, he says.

Mr. Snijders says interior design can appeal to men.

“A lot of bachelors are realizing, we’re guys and we like to build stuff,” he says. “This is a great opportunity to do that and make your place look cool.”

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