Words + Styling || Lyle Eero || 26 May 2016
It is, to be frank, an inspirational safe haven where creature comfort, personal style, and marked individuality coalesce and aesthetically reign supreme — an essential room truly fit for a gentleman of polished taste and character.
Existing long before the (increasingly jaded) omnipresence of the contemporary "man-cave” — and its entertainment/electronic laden premise —the very essence and ideal of the study tastefully eludes to a simpler (more sophisticated) time when the average gent took great pleasure in withdrawing to its confines to further cultivate upon his character by reading copious amounts of literature, formally hosting invited guests, and carrying out his hobbies and passions in complete isolation and sheer comfort (as well as in utter style…the dinner/smoking jacket was the common attire worn by gents retiring to their studies in the days of yore).
In this day and age, the study still operates in very much the same manner as before (albeit in what some would deem a less pretentious manner) in relation to its core design philosophy (classical yet personal) and in its ability to tastefully illustrate the unique individuality of a man’s true character in a highly stylized, very open and honest way in which no other room throughout time has been truly able to match in personalized scale.
And, that is something that should be admired in an era where cheap trinkets, mass-production (and consumption), and a creative penchant for soulless, stripped back minimalism (in the interior design domain) have made it so that nearly all the romance, intimacy, and uniqueness — all that once defined the classic gentleman's study — has been somewhat stripped away and thrown to the wind .
Cannot decide? Well, for many a man professional guidance in such matters may be needed (as well as welcomed as a second opinion for that matter).
Accordingly, and to ease the selective decorating/design process, I’ve taken it upon myself to researching what typically constitute as being the staple study essentials that should be included in every gent's study whilst further enlisting the professional eye of a good friend of mine, Mr. Kenneth Walter, who is a well respected interior designer (and the head of the design firm Walter | Grey ) with a keen eye for tasteful aesthetics that has been creatively honed for well over 30 years — working on everything from historic restorations to contemporary interior makeovers — for a few quips and some general advice for the man set upon outfitting a study truly befitting a gentleman.
But before we begin, its important to note that a gentleman does not have a "man cave” but rather a cultivated study replete with personal trinkets (heirlooms + habitual goods), worldly curios, fine antiquities, masculine furniture and tasteful artworks.
So leave the television and home theatre to its own dedicated space and channel your best aristocratic gentleman by investing in these 10 items every gentle needs in his study.
A gentleman's study is fundamentally a highly personalized space whereupon each individual touch that he decidedly incorporates into its design should honestly express (and build upon) both his style and innate characteristic tastes in an unbridled (yet sensible) manner that bespeaks of refined individualism — it is where the idyllic atmospheric touch that makes the room truly his comes into play.
And seeing as it exclusively functions as his sole personal refuge, it should go without saying that it needs to contain objects and trinkets that he not only admires but that also mirror his interests, history and personality.
By that definition, the personal furnishing you choose for your study should serve as an expressive visual mood board (of sorts) that illustrates your refined tastes, expounds upon your worldly travels, channels your life experiences, takes into account your signature (menswear) style and hobbies, and reflects upon your core characteristics values as a gentleman.
So, my advice to you is to choose wisely as there is no run-of-the-mill template to follow that will suit every man nor is there truly a wrong or right way to proceed accordingly…just decorate to please yourself and no other individual..
An elegant bookcase is one of the basic classic core elements of the gentleman's study and is something in which — if it were not present — the room would otherwise feel incomplete without.
And, given the fact that it is but an empty vessel without stocked shelves, an extensive personal collection of both classic and contemporary literature is a must as well. Together, they will entertain you (and guests alike) for years to come and will speak volumes of your worldly cultivated character whilst providing the room with an elevated touch of characteristic uniqueness that will undoubtably set it apart from the average library or corner nook found in most homes.
Now as for the style of bookcase itself, whether you are amongst the lucky few who have floor-to-ceiling bookcases lining your studies walls like a proper library or if you are of the ilk who would prefer a standalone ladder bookcase (if your collection is small), its safe to say that your options — in style, colour, structure, material construction — are near endless.
Having said that, floor-to-ceiling (along one wall…or two) is surely the way to proceed given you have the means (and resources) to do so but any of the options below will be equally sufficient and able to carry out the task at hand admirably if called into action.
- PLACE BOOKS HORIZONTALLY: Your literary collections need not be perfectly symmetrical, alphabetically filed, or vertically aligned perfectly (but none of that will hurt either…and are actually advised), so do consider stacking your books horizontally and pilling them atop of one another to create a visual contest that is both unexpected and aesthetically charming
- ADD STORAGE, DECORATIVE OBJECTS & GREENERY INTO THE MIX: Each device will breakup the otherwise streamlined monotony and enliven the typically dull spacing commonly present on most bookshelves (use unique bookends/pottery/clocks/candles…to achieve the look)
- ADD ARTWORKS/PHOTOGRAPHY TO SHELVES: Utilizing contrasted framing placed between rows of books or as standalone pieces to bring a freshness to the old mainstay library tradition of only books on shelves is a great way to display pieces accrued over time that would have otherwise went unnoticed or not on display at all ( this trick will also allow your personal touch to really shine through)
- DECLUTTER YOUR WALLS: Scale back what is featured on your study's walls by creating a space for the pieces you would typically hang up on your bookshelves instead.. It will give them the dedicated showcasing they deserve while allowing your study's walls to remain streamlined and visually uncluttered. BONUS: this will create an interesting talking point within the room to expound upon
A stately desk (consider an executive the choice of Kings), while not a being study requisite per se (especially for those with little space to work with), will notably serve as an eye-catching visual linchpin for your entire study should you choose to invest in one.
Commanding, stylishly streamlined and unrivalled in professional craftsmanship, one shaped in a traditional woodworking manner — whether it be vintage, antique, or new — will add a dash of sophisticated old-world charm and polish to any space it occupies erstwhile markedly distinguishing, elevating, and animating the entire room's styling to the next tier of peerless refinement as residual consequence.
Heavily ornamented, sturdy as can be, texturally masculine, and carrying with them centuries of history, these desks — when working in tandem with chairs of the same styling magnitude — are a staple study essential for good reason: they are undeniably handsome and serve a basic everyday functional working purpose for both creative and white/ blue-collar professionals alike world round (from authors and artists through bankers and lawyers).
All-in-all, they are sound investments that will pay back dividends for a lifetime to come and will leave you with no buyers remorse.
A win-win situation if there ever were one.
Tasteful artwork has the innate ability to truly transform and elevate the thematic character of any interior space. And seeing as gentlemen are (commonly) lovers of all the finer things in life, incorporating a personal touch to your study through art — whether contemporary or classic, antiquated maps, blueprints or character portraits — is something that is both recommended and to be fully expected.
As such, at the bare minimum you should aim to (literally) frame your study with one statement making piece of artwork that will act as both the visual foundation and focal point within the room from which you can gradually lay the supporting cast of accentuated pieces as you see fit over time and space as you carefully curate your (budding?) collection of artworks for the years to come.
And lest you question the true value of artwork, rest assuringly in knowing that it is a sound investment (through-and-through) that provides both an instant visceral gratification and an admirable injection of style to any room it graces whilst having an enduringly prolonged effect that will stick with you for decades to come.
As for the chosen pieces situated above and below, well whether you fancy something like a framed, printed anthropomorphic fox (painted on 18th century dictionary paper), a vintage map to reflect your adventurous spirit, or a touch of antiquated sophistication (delivered courtesy of the hand-painted oil canvas boat below), then I have you ably covered.
Whatever the case may be, just be sure that any piece you chose speaks to who you are, what you believe in, and what you aspire to become (respective of price) as art has the tendency to stick with you for a lifetime if chosen and invested in properly.
Handsome, richly textured, strong and comfortable. Those are the traits you should seek out when searching for furniture to outfit your study. And as tradition would see fit (over 150 years of it), nothing checks off each of those characteristics so admirably whilst giving off an aura of gentlemanly sophistication moreso then an iconically timeless Chesterfield sofa or club chair.
Steeped in historical luxury and structured elegance (curved armrests, pegged wooden legs, distressed leather), Chesterfield’s are specially crafted to not crease a gent’s clothing (when seated) and are the perfect place for reading, post-dinner conversation or just simply relaxing (i.e. napping) after a long trying day at work.
As for furniture beyond that of the seating arrangements, what I would recommend (given you have the space) would be an exquisite walnut coffee table (or sustainable reclaimed pine/ side table if you prefer) that looks a bit beaten up and celebrates the natural beauties of wood — and all its knots, cracks, and imperfections. Practical and rustically charming, it can serve as a place to store goods and showcase everything from (aptly-named) coffee table books to your favourite magazines and small table top accoutrements.
Alternatively, you could opt for the more subtle (and space saving) tandem of a simple reading chair (style of your choosing) and side table if you do not require extensive seating/storage arrangements, lack the real estate, or just fancy a more minimalistic approach.
Pro tip: Place lighting sconces above the sofa to create a warm,inviting and homely atmosphere
Proper lighting will make or break both the characteristic feel and look of your study and is what will ultimately define its distinct underlying tone and effect the general aura that emanates throughout the room (as well as any other room for that matter).
To that account, uplighting objects — wall sconces, table/desk lamps, and panelled windows — that give off an ambient warmth (courtesy of incandescent and not fluorescent lightbulbs) that is both welcoming and ideal for relaxing in come strongly recommended as they will leave your study with a general aura of comfort rather then that of a cold, industry emptiness.
Moreover, use small table lamps and picture lights to create streamlined pockets of warmth and dedicated glows while resorting too larger groupings of wall sconces (or floor lamps that give off soft glowing light) for more extensive lighting needs.
AVOID: Overhead ceiling lights or chandeliers (unless you strongly desire one…and intend on keeping it properly cleaned).
INVEST IN: Brass, wood, or metal for timeless looks that are sure to please
Every gentleman deserves a room to call his own, a dedicated space that is a tastefully stylized reflection of his unique individuality, his personal history and life experiences, and his cultivated character — a location where he can do as he sees fit without nary a distraction while in a tranquil state of mind.
And the gentleman's study encompasses all that and more, being a source of great personal pride (for many a man) and a safe haven in which he always feels at complete ease and sheer comfort within; It should be personal yet timeless in its precise execution, a coalescent trident of design principles that brings together classic elegance, unique individuality, and modern sensibility in just such a manner that it acts as a highly stylized extension of both his refined character and signature style (wardrobe).
Originally regarded as a separate drawing room for aristocratic gentlemen to retire to for after-dinner drink or smoke, the modern study has broadened its functional (and social) scope and can now serve a multitude of alternative social purposes such as (but not limited to):
: FURTHER DESIGN ACCENTS :
You may also consider including within your study any of the following: a record player/sound system; mirror; screens; fragrances (candles or diffusors featuring oud, tobacco, citrus scents), a clock, statues, a telescope…
For you see, a gentleman's study ultimately serves (above nearly all else) as a visual memoir to all that he has (and will) accomplished in life while reflectively speaking of what it is that he characteristically (culturally, morally, and habitually) values in life.
And that is where the true charm and underlying beauty of a gentleman’s study rests: in its uniquely curated, innate personalization.
So, don’t limit (or restrict) yourself as “one man’s treasure is another man’s trash” after all; be open and receptive to studied experimentation as there is truly no right or wrong way to proceed (per say). Peruse online dealers such as eBay and ETSY to unearth unique finds (at a bargain), visit high-end thrift shops to find a hidden gem, attend estate auctions, and visit restoration businesses and contemporary dealers alike in order to curate and display an eclectic mixture of furniture, artwork, and personal trinkets within your study that collectively tell the tale of who you are as a man.
It is a truly unique and tastefully specialized room in which no gentleman should be without… so don't let it slip through your fingers and into obscurity today.
What do you think of the classic gentleman's study? Are you the proud owner of one? And if so, what features heavily in yours/what would you deem the staple essentials (that I've included or may have overlooked…such as a clock for instance)?
Let me know in the comments below…
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