To anyone who hasn’t been living under a 127 Hours-sized boulder for the last few years, it’s pretty obvious the television-viewing world has fallen prey to Mad Men fever. I am 100% fine with this. While I’ve only seen a few episodes of the show (Jimmy works in television and so doesn’t really like to pay for TV service at home, and I can’t imagine how much more I would procrastinate with HGTV available whenever I wanted it), the aesthetic is beyond beautiful. Pencil skirts, well-tailored suits, Futura, hats, thick-framed glasses (suspiciously similar to the hipstery ones seen all over Columbia nowadays), sleek skyscrapers of metal and glass, rich leather, wood grain. I actually have a hard time following the plot because I’m too busy drooling over the clothes and sets.
Ahem. As I said, clothes and sets. (Little side note: my sister used to waitress with Jon Hamm, back when he was a waiter at Cardwell’s in St. Louis. She said he was super nice and just as good-looking in real life.)
But let’s be fair: despite the gorgeous clothes all the women wear on the show (Christina Hendricks is my faux-ginger role model), the aesthetic is overwhelmingly masculine. Two-thirds of the sets are swanky offices and posh bars, filled with men in suits smoking and sipping expensive booze. I don’t yearn for the days when men were men, women were arm candy and cigarettes were everywhere, but I do long for the days when all furniture had fantastic angled legs and couches were anything but poofy.
I think Jimmy is feeling the Mad Men vibe these days, because he asked me to design him some stationery with a distinctly retro feel. We decided on something simple and masculine, with no frills but plenty of style–like the offices of Sterling Cooper.
It’s loosely based on the stationery used for that fake letter from Sean Connery to Steve Jobs that went viral, but with some little tweaks to the front and a repeating-monogram back. Jimmy’s pretty much hopping up and down waiting to get it back from the printers. I’ve had to remind him once or twice that I have real, paying clients who are giving me money to have their stuff printed first, and I’m just making him stationery to be a nice wife and would you stop looking outside the UPS guy is not coming at midnight to bring you pieces of paper! (I say all this affectionately–actually I’m pretty stoked to have the kind of dude who still wants to write snail-mail.)
While we wait the agonizing 24 hours for Jimmy’s letterhead to get back to us, I thought it’d be fun to design an office/lounge/sophisticated man cave, inspired by the Mad Men atmosphere but updated for the modern, smartphone-toting, Twitter-using, man purse-wearing dude. He’s traded the coffee and cigarettes for espresso drinks and the occasional cigar, but he’s still stylish and gentlemanly. Here’s what I put together.
While I’m not normally a fan of faux finishes, Ralph Lauren’s Suede paint can add a very subtle, warm texture to a room, especially in a rich, leathery brown. The color shown here is Clay Red.
1. Custom stationery (just do a search on Etsy if you’re not design-inclined) is a great alternative to email when you have something special to say.
2. A beautiful, lacquered humidor keeps cigars at the ready in style. (Not that we’re advocating smoking.) Black high-gloss humidor, Amazon, $95.99.
3. A classic Saarinen armchair in suit-like gray boucle makes a fantastic variation on the standard desk chair. It’s also available with a swivel base. Saarinen executive armchair, Jules Seltzer Associates, $1,402.
4. A rugged-looking “work lamp” in place of a standard desk lamp gives a nod to stereotypically “manly” professions like carpentry and drafting, while the softly curved shade tones it down and makes it fit. Carpenter carbon lamp, CB2, $69.95.
5. A modern vase, interesting enough to view on its own without flowers, is a nice alternative to a fresh bouquet. Althea Golden Eye vase, Jonathan Adler, $125.
6. This imposing mid-century desk is large and spacious, but sleek enough to avoid looking bulky. Found on eBay; no longer available.
7. The Kennedy chair from Thrive is flawless: modern but timeless, masculine but graceful. And check out those sexy angles! Kennedy chair, Thrive Furnishings, $899.
8. A funky, modern rug with a bright pop of color brings an unexpected touch of modernity to the space. Satellite rug, CB2, $249.
9. You’ve got to be prepared for unexpected guests with a great cocktail, and you can’t go wrong with some classic smoky, straight-sided tumblers. Tambien smoke barware, CB2, starts at $3.50.
10. A classic media console in black powder-coated steel and gleaming brass makes a statement without saying a thing. Dang media stand, Hive Modern, $899.
11. No man cave is complete without the right music, and this beautiful vintage-style turntable fits right at home in the office. Pioneer PL-630, found on eBay; no longer available.
12. A minimalist clock in a large scale stands out against the warmth of the suede walls. Monocle 19.5″ clock, CB2, $49.95.
So what do you think? Yellow is an unusual accent choice for a man’s office, but I think it fits right in. Jimmy’s pretty pleased with it, too. A quick question: do you, my darling readers, like the sort of “dream room” boards I’ve been putting together, without paying attention to the cost? Or would you prefer some budget-friendly boards where I find chic things for low prices? Let me know–I’m all ears.