Walking into the home of a single guy generally elicits one of two questions: “Have you been robbed?” or “Have you heard of a broom?” That is, unless the home was designed by Frank Goldstin and his team at Chicago-based Hudson Home. “Just because you’re a guy, that doesn’t mean that you can’t live with comfort and style altogether,” he said. “A lot of guys find it really difficult to put things together.”
As CEO of the award-winning design/build firm, Goldstin and his associates work with clients from idea conception all the way through move-in day. “We have a really comprehensive approach that allows the homeowner to work with one team all the way from the beginning to the end,” he said. “It is more cost effective and has created a really streamlined approach to residential building.”
The results are luxurious, sophisticated homes that are not only stylish, but very useful to its residents. We chatted with Goldstin and asked for his tips on creating a sleek and very livable male abode.
Frank Goldstin (FG): Just because you’re a guy, that doesn’t mean you can’t live with comfort and style altogether. A lot of guys find it really difficult to put things together.
Our approach is something that is called ‘sophisticated comfort.’ In any type of space, you’re designing a place where you can kick back and relax but that is pulled together enough for when you have people over for a glass of wine or to watch a football game.
FG: We approach it in the same way guys get dressed―no muss no fuss. Really interpret how you’re going to live. A lot of guys say, ‘I don’t want to live in a museum’ or ‘I want to be able to put my feet up or touch something without breaking it.’ So what we’ve done is create a really nice masculine aesthetic using creature comforts that don’t make you feel like you’re living in a museum. You can move a book, put a plate down, or put a glass down.
FG: We love the use of stone and wood veneers. We also like using surfaces that are not going to show a lot of wear and tear in terms of finger prints. Sometimes we avoid stainless steel, or build a panel over the fridge. We often use matte finishes that don’t show a lot.
Working with guys, we’ve had to explain that just because you’re putting in nice furniture, doesn’t mean your house is done. Good accessories for guys are things like books, natural things like coral, or decorative arts that might be primitive pieces which add layers and interest to a home.
FG: Create a really great home office environment that is comfortable and interesting. Just because it’s a home office doesn’t mean it can’t be cool. In one case we had a client who really loves mod furniture, so we found a desk from the 1960s that we restored, put in Knoll chair, and now it’s a great place to put all of his computer screens.
FG: The trend today is to stay away from stainless steel unless you’re really on top of cleaning. Get a good dishwasher! If you’re the kind of guy that really lives in his house (maybe you leave things out on the countertops), I recommend surfaces that aren’t porous and don’t stain. Man-made materials like quartzite. Guy-ify your house. Make sure that you have things that aren’t going to be ruined in your own environment.
FG: It’s not the bottle of vodka in your freezer. You should be able to take things out when you have people over. Put your bottles in really nice storage pieces that sit on your countertop, or have all of your alcohol out displayed on a really nice tray, so it looks like a home. What you’re basically doing is treating yourself and your guests to your own sense of style. It’s like taking your lifestyle to the next level. Instead of putting things in cabinets and hiding them, display them and make them part of your everyday routine.
FG: Lighting is critical because sometimes we’ll encounter guys in their current homes, and the number one question we have is ‘Where are your dimmers?’ It’s like the sun is shining―don’t you want to dim your lights a little bit when you have someone special over? You’re going to want to create the right mood.
FG: Clean up your house. Everything has a place. Laundry belongs in a laundry basket in the closet. The same goes for plates or glassware.
Invest in one good piece. It’s most likely going to be a sofa. You’re going to want to sit down. Give yourself a place where you can entertain people and have them over. Or invest in something like paint. Paint is really inexpensive and creates better tones and a better environment.
FG: Benjamin Moore has some of the most amazing colors out there that really run the gamut of ‘guy colors.’ The trend is to do more of a muted tone, and a muted pattern, more quiet. One of my favorites is a Benjamin Moore color called Titanium. I’ve used it in many homes and it looks different wherever the sunlight is hitting. Sometimes it looks blue, sometimes gray, or it even has a green tint sometimes.
FG: Don’t start by going out and buying a 60-inch television―even though television is important, you’re just not going to want to base your whole room around your TV. A TV should fit into the picture but not be the one major focal point of the room. Start with how you are going to live in that room, rather than building everything around the TV.
Also, gone are the days of the huge speakers that are standing next to your 60-inch TV. Smaller or wireless systems by Sonos are really cool.
FG: Dimmers. A TV that’s not taking up the entire space. Showcasing some of the things that you may use to entertain, like a wine display or a creative way to put out cocktails. Interesting art work that you can find by going to a very inexpensive antique or home decor store. Have some warm paint that gives you a nice even palette to your home. Invest in some window treatments that add some character and style. Wood blinds and some drapery panels from a place like Crate and Barrel add a really nice touch. It’s about addressing a little bit of everything.
For a man who is very concerned about his living environment, if you’re able to, consult with a pro to capture the essence of how you are going to live in the space. There are some decorators that charge an hourly rate. For a little bit of an investment, it can save you a lot of headaches and embarrassment later when you bring a girl over.