Masculine and Feminine Design

What makes decorative accessories and furniture feminine or masculine? 
What a great question! Femininity and masculinity present themselves in various ways across cultures, but I'll respond to this in the conventional American perspective. I think most Americans regard "feminine" furnishings to be primarily concerned with form, and "masculine" furnishings to be primarily concerned with function. Some may find this heteronormative way of approaching design to be dated, and even repressive! I think good design is ergonomic, functional, and aesthetically pleasing. Here are some side-by-side traditional comparisons.


Crate & Barrel Clara and Davis chairs

Feminine furnishings undulate like a woman's body, while masculine furnishings possess hard, clean lines.

More comparisons after the jump.

Wisteria Sleek and Simple sofa and Crate & Barrel Aidan sofa

Feminine seating has a sloped or curvy back with low or no arms, like slipper chairs or camelback sofas. Masculine seating features a straight back and high arms, like a tuxedo or lawson sofa.

Williams Sonoma Simone and Randall chairs

Feminine furnishings read as petite and dainty. Masculine furnishings are visually solid and heavy.


White-washed and light woods are regarded as feminine, while dark woods are considered masculine.

West Elm Silhouette nightstand and CB2 Harvey chrome nightstand

Feminine fabrics and materials are soft and warm like chenille and wood, while masculine fabrics and materials are durable and cool, like leather, stone, plastic, and metal.

Feminine furnishings are also elaborately decorated, as opposed to utilitarian and minimalist.

Crate and Barrel Marimekko Pippurikera Wisteria and Ashton

Brighter colors, embellishment, and complex patterns like damask and florals characterize feminine textiles. Darker fabrics with subtle and geometric patterns, like tweed, plaid, and pinstripes, are masculine. Weight is also important: feminine fabrics are generally more light and airy.

Design Seeds Color Sprig and Docked Hues

Feminine tastes favor winter and spring's powdery, dusty tints. Masculine tastes are partial to summer and fall's deeply saturated, earthy hues and shades.


Feminine window treatments tend to drape loosely with tab tops, clips, or pole pockets. The materials are usually soft and gauzy, like silk or linen. Masculine window treatments are neat and tailored with pinch pleats and grommets. The materials are usually thick and structural like velvet or canvas.

Thanks for the question! I hope these comparisons were helpful and informative.


  1. Thank you so much Luna! You went above and beyond answering my question and I so much appreciate that. This post was incredibly educational and informative. I do honestly feel like I will pay more attention to furniture now as it regards the feminine/masculine spectrum.

    I also appreciate that you gave plenty of visual examples, as I am a visual kind of guy that needs to see pictures of what the concept is. Thanks again!

  2. You're very welcome, Joey! I poked around the internet to research masculine and feminine furnishings, and didn't see any side-by-side comparisons of individual pieces, just entire rooms. I think this guide will really help fellow designers and consumers to decipher the differences.