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Do women and men have different tastes in home decor? The stereotypes that women are drawn to pinks and frills and men preferring the “man cave” look, are probably no more true than the myth that leprechauns have a hidden pot of gold under the rainbow.

Our perception that a room is “feminine” might be triggered by such attributes as pink or pastel-colored walls, floral printed pillows, or tiny knickknacks. Delicate furniture or accessories and scalloped linens also read feminine. These features are associated with female qualities of pretty, delicate and dare I say it, “ornamental.”

A masculine feel in decor is typified by leather furniture, dark colors, weathered furniture, and perhaps a cowhide rug. In addition, such architectural details as wood beams on the ceiling balancing out the dark furniture on the ground can be seen as masculine. These features evoke traditionally male cliches and the supposed no-nonsense straightforwardness of men.

Of course, these stereotypes are just that: an oversimplification and generalization of the things that men and women prefer. Plenty of women hate throw pillows as much as men. Plenty of men hate dark decor and embrace soft colors. Women and men equally strive to make a house a home. Particularly today, there is a unisexual decor revolution going on.

There are ways to blend the masculine and feminine in design. For example, arched doorways can counteract other angled or sharp masculine features in a space. Adding color, mixing low end and vintage pieces can make a home feel less fussy, more relaxed and unisexual. Applying a mixture of modern (a living room chandelier instead of an overhead fan) and rustic finishes (a rustic headboard) will also bring both gender’s traditional sensibilities into the design.

Another way you can combine male and female qualities is to combine dark antique furniture with modern and white pieces. Or, substitute ikats, paisley and block prints for florals when you want to incorporate prints. Satisfy a man’s need for real wood by adding textures like wood floors and bamboo blinds but add a quilted duvet cover for a feminine touch.

Sharing a space with someone will always require a melding of tastes and incorporating the other person’s style with your own. If your partner and you have different design tastes, it is helpful to know when to compromise and to always keep in mind the purpose that the room will serve. If a piece of furniture has no sentimental value or no function in the room it inhabits, then edit and get rid of it.

Likewise, if you are really passionate about a particular element of decor, such as the color of the wall, be prepared to speak up and at the same time, be willing to let your partner include an item he/she loves. Incorporate collected objects with shared meanings for you both.

If you really cannot agree on a given room, perhaps you can each have your own special room to decorate in your own style. It doesn’t make for an entirely cohesive house, but it will keep the peace.

And always keep in mind that the popular trend is not to be too “matchy matchy”; a room shouldn’t look too “staged” by professional decorators; that it shouldn’t look too “perfect.” The idea is to bring your own personality and life story into your surroundings, and make your rooms reflect who you are. Your home should tell “your story” — not a decorator’s story — of your personal history, your background, your likes, interests and hobbies.

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Deborah Macdonald is the owner of Textured Design Napa. Contact her at 707-255-0246, deborah@textureddesignnapa.com, www.textureddesignnapa.com.

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