AP photo/Keith Lapinski Studio|
These pillows, sheets, covers and bed skirt, in chocolate and turquoise, are from the Nate Berkus-designed "Indochine Bedding" line sold at Linens 'n Things.
Bachelor of Arts
Decorating a young man's home with-
out dirty socks or video game wires
By Sam Dolnick
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — You're out of Mom's house, you've left the dorms, you're up off your friends' futons. You're a young, single man with your own home, and it's time to start living that way.
Old towels can't double as curtains. Your laundry pile won't work as a bedside table. And that old Joe Montana poster doesn't count as art.
Here are some tips about how to class up your apartment while staying true to what you like. (And if you like the towels over the windows look, no one else does, so get rid of them.)
Your home says a lot about you, so take the time to make it nice.
“It’s not just about having somewhere to sit,” says Nate Berkus, host of a show on Oprah Winfrey’s XM radio channel. “It’s about expressing your personal taste and your aspirations and your style.”
Don’t copy a living room from a magazine, don’t hire a professional decorator and don’t go for some sleek vision of a cool bachelor pad. Make it unmistakably yours.
“A new home doesn’t need a new man,” says Berkus. “People want to be adults and cut ties to where they came from, but I think that’s a mistake. You want to bring things with you, but present them in a new way.”
Take pictures of friends and family, change them into black and white, and frame them. Bring an old chair from your parents’ house and reupholster it. Hang a drawing you made in kindergarten. Little things can make your place feel more like home, and less like a hotel room.
Books are also a good way to add warmth to a room and to express your personality. Start collecting books and ask for big art books as gifts. You can never have too many books.
Don’t treat the bedroom as a box to sleep in. Put some thought into how it’s arranged, keep the room clean and make it comfortable.
You don’t need a four-poster bed, but you shouldn’t be sleeping on your old single bed and Super Mario sheets, either.
“You do not want to redo your first bedroom from when you were 8 years old,” says Dee Morrissey, owner of Morrissey & Thompson-Ryan Interior Design in Colts Neck, N.J. “Big turnoff for the ladies.”
Get a good mattress, either full-sized or queen, buy at least two sets of nice sheets and get a lot of pillows.
You can get away without a headboard if you hang an interesting piece of art above your bed and prop a pile of pillows beneath it. But a man’s first headboard is a milestone.
“Order a headboard and an upholstered box spring, and all of a sudden you’re not a child anymore,” says Berkus, who has created his own line for the home at Linens ’n Things.
Painting a room is the easiest way to put your own stamp on the place. A surprising color can make an anonymous room feel dramatic, but don’t go overboard — you don’t want to recreate Peewee’s Playhouse.
Most people will say that dark-colored walls make rooms look smaller and light-colored walls make them look bigger, but don’t worry too much about that. Navy-blue walls can make your home look unique, and a brightly colored sofa or comforter won’t make the room feel claustrophobic.
A trendy strategy is to make an “accent wall” by painting a single wall a different color, but Berkus cautions against it.
“It’s a cheap trick,” he says. “It shows a lack of commitment. If you like something, just paint the room that color. It’s much more surehanded.”
Don’t try to furnish the whole place in one trip to Ikea — collect things over time. Get a pair of vintage lamps from a flea market, bring back a rug from vacation in Mexico, get a table from a yard sale.
“It’s more interesting if you mix things,” says Morrissey. “Find a great old trunk, put glass on top and there’s a cocktail table.”
The walls are blank canvases to fill with whatever you like. Berkus suggests you buy one piece of great art, get it framed well, and hang it in a place of honor. Fill the rest with black and white photos, inexpensive art prints or those college posters you can’t part with. Frame as many pieces as you can, and get a mix of sizes and colors. If you like it, it’s not clutter.
Don’t spend all your money on fancy gadgets. No one’s going to want to come over to watch the game, no matter how clear the picture, if there’s nowhere to sit.
If you can afford it, flat screen TVs, which can be hung on the wall and admired, are hard to beat. But they’re still pretty expensive, with an average price hovering around $1,600.
If you get a regular TV, put it on a rolling stand so it can be tucked away when you’re not watching. Get good speakers that you can connect to your iPod. And if you’re a video gamer, don’t turn your living room into an arcade. Put away the controllers when you’re through.
Plants are a great way to bring life into a dull room. Don’t bother going exotic or fussy — they’ll probably just die, and pots of dead plants are worse than no plants at all.
Cactuses are easy, although they don’t do much to warm up a room. A better bet would be an aloe plant, a rubber tree, or a ZZ plant, which grows shiny green leaves and doesn’t need much direct sunlight. Snake plants look interesting and can thrive even when you forget to water them.
Scatter plants throughout your home — put small ones on windowsills, taller ones in corners, leafy ones by the door.
They’ll always be there to welcome you home — and they’re good practice for learning responsibility. Here’s a rule: Don’t get a pet or have a baby until you can keep that bamboo tree alive.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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