Author Archives: mitchell

Man Cave

 

Tux

Never say “Man Cave”. To me or to anyone. And don’t ever ask me to design one. I will design a gentleman’s lounge, a bachelor pad, a study. But I refuse to design a room for a grown man to act juvenile. It’s embarrassing and frankly, unmanly. If you need a place to “escape”, that room should inspire you to venture uncharted territory – professionally and personally. It should help make you a better man. It is a man’s retreat, not a romper room. How does a tacky lamp or beer-can sculpture strengthen your conviction or improve your swagger?

Your surroundings should make you smarter, stronger, braver, and more manly, not regress into kitsch and childishness. Certainly have fun with the place, but be clever, not tacky. There is strength in subtlety.

Think of James Bond in a bespoke tuxedo. His gold cufflinks are microphones. His Cartier Pen a covert weapon. To the uninitiated, he appears a successful, worldly man. But the double agency of his jewels and tools empower him. As your room should empower you. Whether the room starts as raw space or just plain, it must be appropriately attired. Pants/Shirt/Jacket: Flooring/Wall Finishes/Ceiling. Be generous with the finishes. Consider how the walls meet the floor, like tucking the shirt into your pants. Consider a baseboard: material, color, scale affect the attitude of the room. All elements must harmonize. As you apply finishes to the room, you are dressing it.  The room is forming successfully when it commands your attention, even unfurnished.

Let’s get some furniture in there. What you put in the room are your covert instruments.  Furnish the room with intention. Your primary purpose for the room is what you should indulge the most on. If it’s a study, invest in an incredible desk. This is where you may stretch your budget. If the room itself and primary furniture is high caliber, you can be thrifty on other, less visible elements.

The effort you put into the space will be empowering. Be serious. Be clever. Be playful. Be the best of you. The more time you spend there, the more you’ll feel better about who you are, and who you are becoming. You are not a man child. This is not a man cave.

Live Like A Man Who Gives A Fuck

veroneseI can’t count how many times I hear men declare “I don’t care about furniture”. It’s mostly straight men, and they say it with pride. I can understand why they may feel this way. Traditionally “interior design” or “decoration” was the realm of “the girls-n-gays”. I don’t agree with that sentiment, but I understand it. And a lot of what is called “interior design” or “decoration”, even well done, looks like it was by or for women and gay guys. But that is not the universal truth. I am a straight man who designs and decorates homes for successful straight men. I have gay clients, and some women, and some couples and families, but most of my clients are straight men. Successful straight men. These men succeed from their obsessive attention to detail – in their business and in their life. They give a fuck about things most people ignore. Their attention to detail includes every single thing in their homes. They live among items that inspire them.

Imagine if everything in your home was selected by you intentionally. Imagine if everything you live with inspired and motivated you. If you woke every morning to an environment that filled you with pride and satisfaction. Yes, I’m talking about your furniture. Go ahead and roll your eyes, then try this: Think about something you care about. Maybe it’s the stock market, a sports team, music, motorcycles. Whatever it is, I bet you know its history, its details, what differentiates it from others. Now imagine applying this attention to the contents of your home. You wouldn’t put any half-assed stock into your portfolio. Why settle for any old chair? Or desk? Or bed? You might not think it makes any difference, but I’m telling you it does.

You are a product of your environment. If you live among random things of limited value to you, it affects you. You care a little less about things. If you live among items with purpose, substance, history, and a personal connection to you, you’ll find you pay more attention to details in other parts of your life. Details matter. It’s what separates high achievers from the general population.

Maybe you think you can’t afford to live like that. Not so, my brother. It needn’t cost a lot to live with intention and integrity. Yes, it’s more expensive than salvaging discarded furniture from the curb, or taking hand-me-downs from friends and relatives. It may be fun to recount the “score” of free furniture, but is that how you want to live long term? Live with integrity and intention. Of course a large budget will get you originals, but many original designs are licensed and reproduced to be more affordable. What’s important is to know what you’re buying and why. Who designed that piece? Why? When? What about it resonates with you? Its simplicity? Its elaborate embellishments? What is it made of? How was it made? Where was it made? This information adds to the furniture’s significance to you.

With a little effort and an Internet connection, you can begin to learn about different periods of design.  If you have more money than time, you can pay me to curate suggestions for you. Let me start you on your journey of enlightenment. Go to the Website https://www.1stdibs.com/shop/styles/  all major styles are listed here. Click on each style to see a well curated selection, and see what you love or hate. Take notes. Compare the styles you like and what they have in common. You may never buy these exact items, but you can learn from them. When looking at a similar item from a national retailer, you may recognize the original inspiration and how well (or not) its execution stays true to its roots. Rule of thumb: the closer it looks to the original, the better.

The exercise of pondering furniture will inspire you to think about what attributes you appreciate and why. Such introspection leads to a more productive mindset that carries over to other aspects of your life. Have a point of view and express it where you reside. Good craftsmanship and well executed design will rub off on your mindset. Simpleminded people drift through life oblivious to their surroundings. And “surroundings” includes furniture. Think about what motivates you, look around at what surrounds you, care about it – the same way you care about your finances or whatever else you commit your free time to – and take control of it. Give a fuck about your furniture. You’ll be a better man for it.

Trinity

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A man’s decorating doctrine should focus on the trinity: the bedroom, the bathroom and the bar.

A clean and organized home will speak volumes of your physical and mental success. Address the basics, incorporate your character into the direction of your furniture style and break the stereotype by concealing your television or at least leaving it off when entertaining. Use one end of your dining table as a library table styled with books and objects that represent your interests.

Before having guests over, invest in new (matching) sheets and a new bedcover. Place low wattage bulbs in your table lamps and place a decent read next to the bed – even if you don’t usually read. A textbook or literary classic if you’re faking it. A real book you are actually interested in reading, even if you haven’t started it.

Stock your bathroom with fresh towels, a PUMP soap dispenser with a pleasant smelling soap (e.g.: lavender), and a (matching scented) lit candle. A small civilized arrangement of fresh cut flowers would likely blow your friends’ minds and increase your chances of someone staying over. It also shows you pay attention to and care about the details. It’s a good idea to “curate” your medicine cabinet because people *will* look.

Put together a “top shelf” bar tray with a proper basic base of white rum, vodka, bourbon, tequila, and brandy. Mixers should include dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, triple sec and bitters. Accent with small bottles of seltzer and soda water, some fresh lemons and limes, cocktail olives and cherries. Barware should include six to eight of each: short glasses, tall glasses, [champagne] coupes, and wine glasses (pick your favorite style and use for both red and white). Tools should include a cocktail shaker, strainer, jigger, corkscrew, a bar spoon and “simple” paper cocktail napkins. Place all out on the largest tray you can find. Put this tray on that library table we talked about. A quick image search of “bar tray” on the internet will give you the right idea of what you’re after.

When you throw your next mixer, you will be prepped and ready.

Tools of Your Passion

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Successfully styling your place takes introspection. If you acknowledge you don’t know what you’re doing, be conservative in the overall look. Don’t buy stuff for the sake of having stuff. Buy and show things in your home that are meaningful to you. Your passions convey character.

If your passion is motorcycles (whether you own one or not), pick up a vintage helmet to place on top of a table or cabinet. Print photos of your favorite classic bikes in black and white, frame them in simple black frames, and hang on the wall or set on a table next to that helmet.

If your passion is golf, fill a beautiful silver bowl with balls or tees on a table, lay a vintage driver on your mantel or a shelf.

If your passion is SCUBA, hang a spear gun on the wall. Frame a small picture of Jacques Cousteau and place it on a table with a head of coral next to a picture book of the sea.

Regardless of what items you display, they should have some general characteristics: The items should have some history. Older or vintage items with a patina from use and/or a specific pedigree (handed down from a previous generation, given to you by someone special, etc.) makes them authentic and more interesting.

Surround yourself with meaningful things to admire. They represent your identity to  guests, invite passionate conversation, and make your home a more unique and enjoyable environment.

I’m a Straight Man Who Designs Interiors

Turnbough_SplashPage_PortraitFor the past 25 years I’ve designed bachelor pads, beach houses, and family homes for the worlds least known billionaires, industry leaders, and countless entrepreneurs. My straight approach to designing living spaces captures the passions and motivations of my clients in their living, working, and recreation to celebrate their accomplishments and enhance their performance.

I’ve always had a fascination with the science of appearance. I studied at Ringling College of Art and Design. When I graduated I moved to New York City to pursue my passion for design.

My work has been published in scores of renowned design magazines including Architectural Digest which inducted me into their “AD 100 Top Designers”, as well as Departures, W Jewelry, Flair, Elle Décor, House & Garden, The Franklin Report, Interior Design, The New York Times Magazine, and Vogue.

Follow me to discover good design from a straight man’s point of view. And visit my website to see a portfolio of my work: http://mitchellturnbough.com/portfolio/

#TrophyApartment

Trophy_ApartmentAlthough I would never use the term #TrophyApartment, I’ve had clients seek my help with this specific request. I’ve designed my share of extravagant high-end homes, but they never say “Trophy Apartment”, they just say “home”. I’m not judging the #TrophyApartment-seeker, in fact, I enjoy working with them. Typically they’ve never used a designer before but just earned their first big bonus, or they just sold their company. They are successful, often self-made guys with active social lives but they live with a futon on the floor and a mashup of odd furniture left over from roommates, relatives, and ex-girlfriends. They live like hobos with Rolexes. And they’re ready to make their place represent their success. So they call me.

Before I can hand him a “trophy”, we must first address the basics:

  • He needs a real bed and the furniture that supports its function (bedside tables, reading lights, storage).
  • He needs somewhere comfortable and appropriate to sit (that is not the bed) where he can relax or entertain.
  • He needs somewhere functional and pleasant to dine and/or work (that is not the bed).

Often this type of project is space planning and buying furniture with minimal to no construction.

When addressing these basics, I incorporate his CHARACTER into the direction of furniture style and the layout (space planning). My design direction will improve how his space serves him, and most importantly, reflect HIS personality, attitude, and lifestyle.  Depending on his tastes, I incorporate appropriate luxurious and masculine finishes. He may agree to indulge on investment pieces of furniture or art he really responds to (often for the first time in his life) which I will incorporate into the design.

The luxurious finishes and indulgent purchases are what the client usually identifies as the “trophy” part of his space. But in my opinion, having him live in a beautifully functional space that represents his individuality is the ultimate prize.

www.mitchellturnbough.com