Male vs. Female: It’s a Size Thing




A skirted vanity table, Venetian mirror, silver toiletries – a femininely designed master bedroom shared by a husband wife.


OK, I am going to say it.  Like it or not.  Here goes.   I would much rather design a house for and with a woman than a man.   I just prefer feminine decorating over masculine decorating.   Even the male interior designers I most admire design in a feminine way - Saladino and Carithers come to mind immediately.  Yes, I know there are exceptions and right now I am thinking of a few couples I have worked with whose projects ended up being very successful.      But, given the choice, I PREFER the design project  where the wife takes the lead and makes all the decisions.  Usually when the husband gets involved, it’s not a good sign:  he’s not happy with the wallpaper, he doesn’t like linen, he hates curtains, he doesn’t like seagrass, and he loathes four poster canopy beds.  You know, all the things I love.    Some woman love designing for men.   They like masculine things and appreciate dark colors and chenille, leather and plush carpet – I just don’t.  For myself, I know a project is going to be good when the husband leaves the room, and the wife rolls her eyes and says to me – “don’t listen to him.”  Even better is when the first time I actually meet the husband is at the installation.    Now, that’s a great client!


image John Saladino’s powder room.   A male interior designer not afraid to show his softer feminine side.


Testosterone-driven designing is just not my thing.   To illustrate my point, I have found two extreme examples – one where the husband had a huge impact on the project, often leaving me to wonder if he was even married.   The second house is the result of a woman designing for a woman.   It’s a house where the husband said - “Honey, if you are happy, I am happy.  I know interior design matters more to you than it does to me, so you do whatever you want to the house.  I trust your taste.”  That is a husband who is secure in his masculinity and doesn’t need to live in a house which proclaims he is the boss.    Both houses shown today are about the same size, though the lot sizes are quite different.    They both have many bedrooms and both are obscenely expensive.   Look at these two houses and decide:    Do you prefer a masculine design or a feminine design.     Have fun!




House #1 is located in Austin, across the street from the lake.   It was built in the early 80s and has been remodeled three times.   Clad in native Austin limestone, it’s typical of the contemporary Mac Mansions built in Austin by the all the dot com executives and by the real estate agents who got successful serving them.




The huge swimming pool was only added last year, replacing a much smaller one.  The first major remodeling was done in 2004.   In 2007 a massive four car garage was added – the garage is the large wing on the right side of the house with glass doors overlooking the pool area.      Now tell me, what woman would build a four car garage before a swimming pool?  And what woman would actually WANT a four car garage?   And honestly, what woman would even WANT a pool this big?   This complex actually looks like a hotel.  Woman don’t decorate this big.   We’re happy with smaller, cozier, warmer, quainter.  Men want it BIG.   The bigger the better.  It’s a testosterone thing.




The back yard complex during the day.   The massive four car garage is to the right of the main house.   The landscaping is really sparse – no beds of lavender blowing in the breeze.   No roses or hydrangeas either, in fact, not many flowers at all. 




The famous garage that doubles as a party room.   OK.   Wait – it DOES have a chandelier in here, along with a video arcade game.    The glass doors overlook the pool.   I suppose it’s nice to have a pool view while you’re working on your cars!      Ladies, I ask you – would you EVER want a garage like this?  This size?  This BIG?




The most feminine room in the house is the dining room – there are actually crystals on the chandelier!    The real estate brochure includes pictures before and after the remodeling which are interesting to look at.   Here, there is no rug.





And here, with the addition of the back yard pool, the dining room gained a rug which brightens up the space considerably.   Notice the ballet art on the wall – the husband threw the wife a bone here.    Just kidding!    Maybe it’s even the wife’s own art work?     The dining room overlooks the beautiful backyard - the kitchen is through the open door to the left.    Although it’s not my personal style, I do think this room is very pretty and well designed for soft contemporary. 




The main living room.   Masculine or feminine?    A huge moose head, leather chairs, and seagrass – wow, that’s a first for a male!!!  This room would be great as a man’s study, not a main living room – especially for a feminine wife.   Is there even one feminine touch in here?   This room faces the front yard.  It’s a shame there’s no view to the back yard, but the house does face the lake – so there  may be a lake view. 




The King’s domain.   What an office and what an extravagance:  a poker table all set up and ready to go.   This is a man who knows what he likes and gets it.   He doesn’t hear “no” too often.   He’s used to getting his way.  Notice the flat screen in the upper left corner, just for poker nights!  This office is to the right of the living room and also faces the front yard.




Now THAT’s a range for cooking up some steak and potatoes.   But being as this is Austin, it’s probably used more for grilling fish and vegetables.





The area to the left of the kitchen (just down the steps) is the family room, complete with all the male necessities:  a sectional in suede, an ottoman for his tootsies, a large screen TV and a built in media center.   AND included here is every woman’s favorite decorating item:  a sports jersey won at a charity auction!   And look – the room was even decorated in gray to match the jersey!    Now, this is a sweet wife!  She already gave up her living room to her husband, her back yard, and now her family room!   





This picture is included in the real estate brochure, but I am going to say this is same family room before the recent remodeling.  Notice the furniture. 




Yep.  The furniture was moved outside to the patio in front of the garage.     What a beautiful backyard – a playground fit for a King!  The lit trees are incredible at night.





OF COURSE there is a giant media room, complete with a small kitchenette and a plush, lush, squishy ultrasuede sectional!   You didn’t think the husband would be forced to watch TV just in the family room, or in his poker room/office now did you?   Of course not!    And you knew there would be another sectional somewhere, right?   No man is happy without a couple of leather or suede sectionals spread throughout his palace.    And that’s not just a TV there, there is also a powerful surround sound set up.   What man can’t live without surround sound or brown paint and orange carpet, too?  Remember this is Austin, home of the burnt orange UT longhorns!      I am going to guess that this is the former garage – that was at the front of the house before the remodeling.    Now that the new four car garage was built, the former garage was turned into a media room.   Just a guess.




The master bedroom – newly decorated.   The former bedroom is pictured below.   I’m not sure why both the before and after pictures are presented in the real estate brochure, but I love seeing how the house was upgraded.   The decorator did a good job – all kidding aside – decorating for a male.   In this picture – there is new carpeting and a new bench which I love.  The decorator also added draperies (probably because the husband couldn’t get the room dark enough with just the shades – so they added black out curtains for him – I’ll lay odds on that guess!)   Also, the soffit over the bed was removed in the remodeling and windows were added next to the bed, along with grasscloth wall covering – all so masculine.  The two windows were added to gain a view of the back yard – there wasn’t one before – smart decision!    Of course there is a wood and leather headboard – no tufted velvet upholstered jobs for this man.  Men love big, heavy beds.    And never a canopy for them, thank you very much!   More suede on the chair and a half (natch – the bigger the better!)    One more thought -  how much more masculine could the duvet be?   Brown and white windowpane.  




The room before (I think this negative was reversed here) – notice the dropped ceiling over the bed which is now removed.  Windows were added to the sides of the bed, along with the new carpet and wallpaper.  Hubby loved his windowpane brown and white duvet, so that stayed.   But all the white ultra modern furniture went bye-bye.   I like the new bedroom so much better!!  No curtains here either which was too much sun for the King’s eyes.




image rr

The King’s private store – a walk in closet to rival any boutique!    He is married – I can see his wedding pictures where his bride in her white gown is clinging to him on his motorcycle.   This truly is a  Type–A personality living here.    And he also rides horses – check out his boots and riding hat.   All the photographs are in neatly matching brown frames – which is a perfect idea, excellently executed!   And he has a little daughter!   Hmmm – there sure didn’t seem to be any signs of a child living here.     The carpet is really attractive, in a masculine way, of course!




Her side – her closet was expanded, there were before shots of the closets too.    If this was MY closet, it would be so frou-frou!   I would have vanities and Venetian mirrors, and white marble, and sconces and a chandelier or two!  I would have an antique chaise lounge in my closet area – certainly not a brown contemporary stool, but then again, Mr. Slippers Socks Man surely isn’t in control of OUR decor!   He knows better than to even offer a suggestion!   The Queen does like her shoes.   This is one neat, organized couple – I have to hand it to them!   What a dream it would be to have all this storage space.






Now, the question is – is this the master bathroom before remodeling, or just one of two bathrooms?  If they have two bathroom, this would be his. 




And this would be hers.   But if this is the same bathroom remodeled - there is a vanity now and a bathtub added.  This does look updated and it has the same mirror.   It’s hard to say if this is a separate bathroom or the same one remodeled.     Can’t see them sharing this bathroom with just one sink.    But why is her bathroom decorated with the dark brown marble – so masculine, while his is light limestone?   Rather or not its two bathrooms, or the same remodeled - look!  Fresh flowers!  Wow!!!!!!  And a sconce!!!!!   A few feminine touches even with all the brown marble and tile which happens to perfectly match the window pane duvet!





All kidding aside, despite being a Type A personality and always getting what he wants, it’s obvious he is a real softie:   look to the right of the picture, under the window – there is a dog door – with STEPS!    AWWWWW,  too cute!!!!   He added steps for his little dog to get in and out!   Now that’s a thoughtful man!





And proof there IS a baby around!  A toy car is parked right next to her daddy’s wedding get-away motorcycle!   Too sweet!



So – what do you think?   Could you be happy living in a  male dominated environment – with every concession made to please the man of the house and the woman’s femininity totally pushed to the background?    If I hadn’t seen her closet, I would have doubted a woman even lived here, save for the ballet picture and crystal chandelier in the dining room.  This is a man’s playground to be sure!   I wonder where they are moving to?   Next up, below, is the example of feminine decorating.  





Located in the heart of Dallas’ Highland Park – a classy, old neighborhood, this is MY idea of a dream house:  yes, it is huge, but it seems manageable.  I could be really happy in this house!   I love the classic facade with the beautiful windows and the porte cochere with the terrace above it.  And what pretty landscaping – even in the winter – it’s still lush green with its welcoming center flowerbed.     I also really like all the box that curves out and frames the front steps.  Charming!    Even the paint color gives off an air of femininity – a soft grey with darker gray shutters.      This house is oozing in curve appeal and softly saws – I am woman!  (Albeit with a wealthy, quiet, understanding and obliging husband.)





The living room says it all – this was decorated by a woman for a woman.    Does a man even LIVE in this house??????     It’s a vision in Gustavian – so beautiful!  I love all the painted gray and white-washed furniture – the two Swedish chairs in plain linen, the French bench in front of the fireplace with its dainty crystal sconces.  And where did she find two antique matching mirrors?  Amazing!   I love the way the demi lunes and mirrors are flanking the fireplace.    There’s a plush, down filled sofa in a pale gray linen with a subtle tape on the hem.  The coffee table is so feminine – but nothing is more feminine than a Moro clock!    Look at it – it looks like a curvy woman in a long dress standing there!   Notice the lacy crown molding and the fluted mantel trim, even the bricks inside look white washed.   Just beautiful.   I have only one comment/complaint.  I noticed that in Dallas, not as many people use seagrass as they do in Houston.   This room is crying out for seagrass with the rug layered on top of it.   Just my opinion!  You knew I would say that!





Looking the other direction– in the front window is  more antique furniture – a Swedish sofa and two French side chairs.   I love the curtains too – nice and full.  Through the double doors on each side of the fireplace is the sun porch.    Notice this detail:   I love how the owner kept the original nails in the chairs next to the sofa – she could have used a beautiful gimp trim to hide them– but she chose to keep it original.   




The sun porch has a charming brick floor – you just don’t get these details and small rooms in new Mac Mansions.  The scale of the rooms in older houses is so much more human – so much more cozy and warmer.   Here she pairs a French settee with two wing chairs covered in a feminine embroidered fabric.   I would have morning coffee in here and light the fire each winter day.  I love how the fireplaces were updated with the white stone – so soft looking.    Again, I would have chosen seagrass.   Don’t you think the texture and color of the seagrass would be better?     Hard to imagine making these rooms any better, though.  




OMG!   A vision!!!!!!!!   First, I love all the pale painted furniture - the table and Swedish chairs.  The chandelier is so beautiful, iron and crystal.   It’s so curvy and feminine.   In the bay window, another Swedish sofa is used, again in plain linen.   And the desk!   A Swedish secretary with its dark gray interior that picks up the pewter color of the iron chandelier.   The creamy, dreamy, silk taffeta curtains are perfection.   Notice how the wainscoting is painted cream against the white walls – and how the curtains blend with the wainscot – that very subtle difference in color keeps the room from going icy.   This decorator knew what she was doing.   Oh help me!!!!   I WANT this room!!!!!!     It’s all so feminine and wonderful and soft and romantic.  I would love to see this room at night with the chandelier dimmed (and trust me – this owner has all her lights on dimmers, I just know she does!)  What a beautiful room!!!  The wife is so lucky that her husband lets her decorate the way she wants to!   That doesn’t always happen, believe me – it doesn’t.   She is truly lucky he trusts her taste – and he should.  She has beautiful taste!     Again, you know, you know – the seagrass!  I almost feel guilty pointing it out.




Will someone please just kill me and put me out of my misery??????????    Please!    I can’t stand all this beauty!   I am two shades of green now.     OK – sisal ????  But it’s better than nothing.  Let’s dissect:   The slips on the furniture is so perfect!   I love the color, not white, not gray, just linen.   The two wing chairs are a darker shade which is such a great choice and what a cute steel table between them.  The fireplace is so pretty – the curvy Louis XV mantel with a Louis Philippe mirror above.  I adore how she accessorized her shelves with white ironstone and antique books.   And the sofa table – nice and deep!   Piled with decor books – Michael Smith’s first book is right on top – good choice!    Here’s another square linen lamp shade, love those.    Could you improve on this room?  Maybe.  Maybe with a light fixture and curtains.  Maybe not.   Hard to say.   It’s just so pretty as is.   Just beautiful.     Whoever owns this – has great taste and style.  I wonder if she decorated it herself?   If not who was the designer?    I am just dying to know!




The brick floored terrace outside the family room – cute of course, with an awning covering the space.  French garden chairs surround a slate top table, French lanterns light the space.  Notice the balustrade - gorgeous.    And I love how she can make the neighbors disappear with the curtains! 




Well,  at least the kitchen is ugly!  Yeah, in my dreams!   First, the Carrara marble is gorgeous – or it could be Calacutta marble, hard to tell.  Notice how the arched window is repeated in the arch over the cooktop and the doorway.   Charming.  The cabinetry is beautiful – I love how it’s all footed.   The island is so long – what a great space to spread out a buffet.  And the matching lanterns - adorable!    The door that leads to the porte cochere is located in that area between the kitchen and the dining room.




The master bedroom looks surprisingly a little unfinished, but hey – who can blame her?!!    She’s exhausted from getting the rest of the house so perfect.   I do love the silk taffeta curtains in mint.   Again, so  feminine – mint taffeta!   And the French doors are beautiful – look at the scrolled iron balconies overlooking the back yard. 




In this picture you can see the beautiful back porch with its balustrade and awning.  Above it is the master bedroom with the scrolled iron Juliet balconies.   And the arched window on the left must be another arch in the kitchen – most likely the breakfast room.   I love the romantic iron gate on the left side.    The landscaping is simple and neat – just box with small pots of blooming flowers.  





On the porch – outside the arched kitchen window is this antique fountain, filled with ivy and winter cyclamens instead of water.


The tale of the tape:  both houses are just under 6,000 sq. ft.  The Dallas home has a basement with a media room and gym – not pictured, plus a two bedroom/two bath cabana.   The master bedroom is a 5 room suite.   The Austin house has 6 bedrooms and 5 baths, and both houses have 4 living areas.   The Dallas house is $5 million and the Austin house – the masculine resort - is just 3.5 million – seems like a bargain in comparison!  The Dallas house was built in 1925 – the Austin house was built in 1982.  Both have been extensively remodeled.   The Austin house covers 1.35 acres, the Dallas lot is 90 x a deep 225. 



These two houses are both examples of decorating in the extreme.   A masculine escape – a soft contemporary, filled with two media rooms, a dedicated office/poker room, a four car garage with a chandelier and glass doors VS a light, air, feminine Swedish styled classic house with rooms scaled to human beings, not elephants or Type A  masculine egos!    Which do you prefer?    What is your style?  Are you a feminine designer or a masculine designer?  Are you more contemporary or do you favor antiques?    Do you need large, comfy, squishy sectionals or could you be happy with wood framed antique Swedish sofas?   Do you need large chairs  & 1/2 or will a French bergere be fine for you?    Could one designer have decorated both houses?   Or more importantly – would one  designer have WANTED to do both styles?    Can you guess which one I would have loved to have designed?

Southern Accents’ Loss: Caplan Miller Events




A 50th birthday party planned by Caplan Miller Events – The Appletini table had it’s own cabana.


Last year,  I wrote a story about my good friend’s daughter – Courtney Caplan, a young entrepreneur in Austin, Texas who along Sarah Miller started a party planning business, Caplan Miller Events.  CME has been a huge success – their parties are out of this world and every one who knows Courtney is so  proud of her.     One 50th birthday party CME planned was so divine that pictures of it were splashed all over the wedding/entertaining blogs.  After the Cote de Texas story went online, Courtney was stunned to get a phone call the very next day from Southern Accents magazine.  Karen Carroll, then editor-in-chief of SA,  wanted to showcase the party planners in her magazine.  To say everyone was thrilled would be an understatement. 



image  CME is known for using furniture vignettes at their parties.  At the 50th birthday party – lime green and zebra were used as theme colors.


A few months after that initial phone call and much preparation later, Southern Accents did come, photographers in tow to capture the lavish “faux” party  Caplan  Miller Events put on for the magazine.  The story of that party was scheduled to run this spring - except what no one anticipated happening happened and now of course, Southern Accents is no more.  What a shame for CME that all those party pictures will never be seen.   But, graciously enough, in the last issue of SA, there is a storyline on Austin and a small blurb of the girls along with their picture was included on their web site HERE.   Although extremely grateful to be included in the “Insiders Guide To Austin,” it is still small potatoes next to actually being featured in the magazine.  Courtney, the ultimate optimist and a the-glass-is-always-half-full kind of girl is just happy knowing what would have been.  And so, since I feel somewhat responsible for the whole episode, I asked Courtney to share a few recent events she has planned so we could all enjoy them.     As always, CME didn’t disappoint and my jaw was hanging open while I gazed over the pictures Courtney sent.  I’m sure you’ll be impressed too!



image  Caplan Miller Events:  Sarah Miller, Courtney Caplan, and Elisabeth Elias who heads up their new Destination Management and Corporate Events Division.  Looking good girls!



The first wedding Courtney shares was an outdoor event held in the bride’s parents backyard overlooking  Lake Travis.  The theme was yellow as you will see,  for the Yellow Rose of Texas – a popular rose AND song!  The flower girls wore adorable yellow tutus.





CME had to construct a large wooden floor over the lawn which was used for the ceremony.   Yellow flowers by Petal Pushers of Austin were everywhere.





The wedding canopy overlooked the lake  - so beautiful!




image A view of the ceremony.




The programs continued the theme.




Of course the bridesmaids wore yellow and carried a mixture of gold and yellow flowers.




And naturally there was lemonade.




The bride wanted a candy bar – stocked with every kind of yellow candy...





And sucker – notice the darling yellow dotted ribbons!





The place cards were cleverly affixed to yellow ribbon with clothespins.





More yellow flowers were at each table.





I loved how they had fireside S’mores!





Even the beer Koozees were color coordinated.   It’s hard to imagine how much work goes into planning an event like this!   All photos were taken by Diana M Lott Photography.





The next wedding Courtney shared was a beautiful indoor event, this time with an orange theme.  In Austin, there are a lot of orange party themes since the local University of Texas’ color is burnt orange.   Here, reflected in a mirror is the flower-laden wedding canopy.    The photographer is Jenn Lindberg Weddings and the floral designer is David Kurio Designs.




A close up of the corner of the wedding canopy.




After the ceremony, the canopy is placed over the favors. 




During the cocktail hour, the lighting changed from orange to lilac.  What a wedding!




The tablecloths were silk taffeta and Caplan Miller Events had mirrors made by Townsley Designs for all the table tops. 




A close up of the table settings with their mirrored tops and glass chargers. 





The cake was topped with orchids and in the background – I wonder if that is the groom’s cake in the shape of a UT Longhorn?????  Only in Texas!




This next wedding was a true Texas experience weekend.  The rehearsal dinner was held in Luckenbach, Texas – a town of just a few residents which was made famous by a Waylon Jennings song.




The photographer for this weekend was Juxtapose.   I love the wedding couple’s initials spelled in flowers against all the rough woods!




The couple had a BBQ at the old Luckenbach Feed Lot for the Rehearsal Dinner.




Hook’em!   Of course there had to be a Texas Longhorn.   The couple actually met on 6th Street in Austin and the groom is fresh off his second deployment to Iraq.




  The wedding ceremony was held in Fredericksburg at the Grape Creek Vineyard complete with a bagpiper.




   Blue hydrangeas were placed all around the outside altar.




The reception was held at Hoffman Haus – a charming B&B in Fredericksburg.




The reception was held in a tent complete with chandeliers from Mexico and toile table cloths in blue and white to match the hydrangeas.    Courtney made sure to tell me that these glasses weren’t the ones she ordered!  They were supposed to be cobalt blue cut crystal – but CME made do with what was sent.  Courtney – it looks pretty nice to me!




Another view of the tables – so pretty!!    Gorgeous flowers by David Kurio Designs and Draping by Townsley Designs. 





Since the couple were married at a vineyard, wine corks held the place cards.





The tent from the outside looking in – so romantic looking.





Flip-flops in hydrangea blue were provided for dancing – the details are just amazing.




All the women wore hats to the wedding, so of course there was a Hat Check!




The candelabras held white orchids.



   0189What a beautiful tent – I love the draping and the Mexican styled chandeliers.




There was even a late night buffet complete with donut holes and funnel cakes – yum!




Mini burgers at the Late Night Buffet.





image And finally, just this past August, CME had another 50th Birthday bash – this time on 6th Street in Austin, photographed by Jerry Hayes.




Each guest’s menu became their own place card.   And yes – burnt orange was again used in honor of the UT Longhorns.




I adore this flower combination – green orchids and peach roses!   So beautiful!     The amazing flowers were by David Kurio Designs





Everyone was seated in one long table overlooking downtown Austin.   Even the chair cushions matched the linens.




Outside, CME had all the furniture, provided by Townsley Designs, brought in for the event. 


To see even more pictures of their events – be sure to visit Caplan Miller Events web site HERE.      I tell Courtney and her mom I can’t wait until Elisabeth gets married, I am going to hire CME to plan it – if they won’t be all booked up that is!  




I mean – if  Courtney had been an event planner when Elisabeth had her Bat Mitzvah, I’m sure we would have ended up with this:  a circus!  Isn’t this the cutest thing ever??   The Bat Mitzvah girl had her own Circus!  Love it!    Courtney, you are the BEST!!!!!!





In a bit of blogging news – The Skirted Table this week welcomed my blogging mentor, Jennifer Boles of The Peak of Chic.   Be sure to listen as Jennifer discusses how she started her blog - it’s an amazing story, and she also talks all about her new job at House Beautiful.   To listen go HERE.     As always, Linda, Megan and I so appreciate your listening and commenting.  Be sure to leave us any ideas for upcoming shows you might have.