Insider Solutions

Ideas for the Clueless Man

Q: I'm a recently divorced, middle-aged man, faced with the mystifying task of decorating a home for the first time. Any tips on getting started?

A: Decorating a home for the first time can be baffling. Let me assure you that you aren't clueless. You do know what you want—you just haven't given it much thought.

My experience is that men's insecurity about decorating stems from childhood, when women picked out their clothes and decorated their rooms. Then, when these boys grew up and got married, the wives took over.

Men, once they get started, often have a better feel for decorating and are more adventurous. Since this is your first time decorating a living space, start by fantasizing what you would like to come home to at the end of the day. How would you like your personal space to look and feel?

Now, forget about the home and focus on you. This might be more difficult, yet essential. You are the person who is living and reacting to all that surrounds you.

Be aware that we all tend to use our parents' home or the home we lived in while we were married as a frame of reference. Now is the time to discover something new—a time to explore yourself and how you want to live. You really do have all the answers. Don't let anyone tell you that you're wrong. The main thing is that you shouldn't rush or make a decision just to have it made.

Now that you've fantasized what you want, you need to start thinking tactically. Begin by discovering the colors you like. If this sounds tough, think about your reactions to colors. If you have trouble doing this, look in your closet or think about shopping for clothes and the colors you are drawn to.

Now consider the style of furniture. What shapes do you like? What gives you a feeling of comfort and contentment? Do you like to recline or sit straight? What tables or surfaces do you need to function in your personal space? Do you want lamps or indirect lighting?

Decide how you want the spaces to be used. Do you need a traditional living room? You may choose to turn the living room into a poolroom. Perhaps you prefer a theater room with draperies at the entrance for darkening. If you want, you can also have a table and chairs for dining while watching the screen.

If there is a family room, you could furnish it for casual sitting, reading and relaxing. You could put a dining table in there as well. The point is, think out of the box because you are the focus of the design decisions. Live your style. You are not only designing your home, you are designing your life's style.

This is the time to remember rooms have no feelings, YOU do!

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