The Biggest Mistake Single Guys Make, According to a Designer Who Has Renovated a Dozen Bachelor Pads
There’s an easy solve.
Published Sep 26, 2022 10:00 AM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
Just the phrase bachelor pad can conjure up dated ideas of leather recliners, mismatched furniture, and plaid flannel bedding. But designer Mollie Ranize is here to change all that. The founder of Dmar Interiors has perfected, if not cornered, the bachelor market as part of her longtime Los Angeles design business, which also lends its California modern sensibilities to cool clients of all types—women, families, and, yes, coupled-up fellows. Nowadays her reputation among single guys is so strong that she doesn’t even find the men—they find her. She’s the secret weapon in the L.A. area, her name passed by word of mouth from single friend to single friend.
The good news is that, according to Ranize, bachelors have come a long way. Even before working with her, their homes weren’t all circle beds and mirrored ceilings. In this visual age, dudes have style. Or the start of it. They just need some area rugs and throw pillows.
And yet Ranize’s tips are universal enough for everyone, even if single men of all kinds have sought out her services. “If you build it, they will come,” she says, laughing. And she knows, because she’s been to the weddings. We talked to the designer about where guys need the most help and the one accent color to avoid.
What kind of statement does a well-designed bachelor pad make?
That someone has their shit together. It makes people want to spend time there. It displays confidence and care. And how it makes you feel is really important. Think of your whole routine in a beautiful space: You wake up in your nicely made bed, flip on your lights, step into your beautiful bathroom, then walk into your organized closet. It makes you feel good. That’s the whole point.
Does the design process ever feel like an unofficial therapy session?
Yes. They’re making a commitment to themselves that they’re going to live differently, take care of things, respect their space. It’s a bit of a grow up, a milestone. And it does change behaviors.
So you’re entering a dude’s space for the first time—what mistakes do you see over and over?
No window treatments. A general lack of tasteful soft goods: nice bedding, towels, pillows. No tools to help organize day-to-day life like trays for keys or storage solutions. Also, bachelors tend to buy a matching set of furniture. This goes for everyone: Don’t do it. And finally, not enough personalized pieces—pictures, plants, decorative accessories. I’ve not met a man yet who has bought himself a decorative bowl.
How can men who may not be accustomed to scrutinizing their personal style and vibe begin to examine their design preferences?
First, I have a detailed convo: where they grew up, hobbies, family, introvert/extrovert, where they’ve traveled, how they like to spend their time. Then I compile imagery for their review—because everyone can tell you if they like a picture or not—and edit it down as we go. I take those things that make them them and create their most elevated version.
Do you get consistent requests for specific spaces?
We are doing home offices for everybody—bachelor and otherwise. Most people don’t want a typical office. It needs to double duty as a lounge or library. The goal is something that feels more relaxed and less corporate. The homier the better. Area rugs. Chairs that are comfortable. A round dining or café table that could work for coffee or cocktails. Window treatments to control light and privacy. Shelving for personal items.
What rooms do guys tend to leave unloved (but really deserve more attention)?
Bathrooms and closets. You can update a bathroom so easily with a few key components: fresh towels and bath mats, updated mirrors and sconces. It’s where you start and end your day—a nice place to pay attention to. The closet can be as simple as changing all your hangers so they match. Now just getting dressed feels like you’re treating yourself.
So we’re going for fresh and timeless—no man caves. What materials work?
Natural materials. Wood, stone, metal. Balancing hard surfaces with softness, so the masculine with a hit of feminine. I force a lot of linen on men because it’s classic, can live in any environment, and comes in tons of colors. It works for chairs, sofas, window treatments. I don’t do a ton of dark rooms; I tend to add depth and darkness with materials not paint.
What paint shades are your faves?
I try to keep the general feeling of a space light and bright while communicating warmth and comfort—depending on space, light exposure, season, and time of day, this can be tricky. Some go-tos we use to accomplish this: Dunn-Edwards Fossil, Dunn-Edwards Crisp Muslin, Dunn-Edwards Swiss Coffee, and Dunn-Edwards Foggy Day.
Do you get a lot of requests for blue?
Blue is interesting. Women actually gravitate more toward blue. Because we use blues to accent in a way that complements the space and communicates with nature, we like these smoky shades: Dunn-Edwards Novelty Navy, Dunn-Edwards Battleship Gray, and Sherwin-Williams Mineral Gray.
Why do single men gravitate toward plaid bedding—and what are you doing to change that?
Plaid is safe for men, but not often used the proper way! We’ll do something instead, like a beautiful custom plaid roman shade.
How do you handle the kooky stuff? Band posters? Esoteric collections?
We prioritize what’s most meaningful, then I find a solution for it. We reframe. We build a nook. We create a custom table for that epic Lego collection. It’s still you—only elevated.
Once the main design is done, how do you make a space feel finished?
Two things I always change: light switches and door handles. Also lamps and lighting in general are such key, easy ways to personalize a space. And accessories: throw blankets, coffee-table books, trays, and plants.
How do you make plant daddies out of them?
We always, always do plants, no matter what. You need that pop of color. But honestly, some people are not equipped. They have the best intentions, but that plant never has a shot. So we do a lot of faux plants. We’ve had good luck with Crate & Barrel, Target, Wayfair, and Nearly Natural.
You joke “if you build it, they will come.” How do you design for the now (bachelordom), while leaving room for a potential partnered future?
If the design doesn’t grow, I’m doing my client a disservice. They shouldn’t have to come in for a full redo if they find a partner. The partner should find charm and comfort in the house as it is. I’m all about visualizing where you want to be and working it into the design, so any change doesn’t have to be so drastic. The closet reallocation might be dramatic. But the rest of the home should transition easily.
If you could give our guys one last piece of advice?
Avoid the desire for red accents—bedding, rugs, blankets, art. It’s a really strong, harsh color that, despite the thought, is not sexy!