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Living May 8th, 2024

How To Become A Man Of Style At Home

Living May 8th, 2024

One of my favorite quotes in the world is from Miles Davis: “For me, music and life are all about style.”

Pursuing, expressing, and appreciating style is one of my greatest joys in life. And while a lot of this happens out in the real world – engaging with others away from home – that doesn’t mean it should stop inside my home.

On the contrary, as the single place I spend most of my time, becoming a man of style at home is arguably more important to me than how I express my style to the outside world.

Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis.

By creating a home where you can live with style, you not only solidify stylistic routine and behaviors, but – most importantly – you create a haven that’s full of your own personal, curated style – one that tells the story of your life – that can be enjoyed at any time, uninterrupted by the fickle and uncooperative nature of the outside world.

(Of course, for those of us with partners or roommates, creating a home with style is a “team sport”, but that doesn’t make it any less important!)

Your home should have areas that make you smile; feel inspired; feel proud; see beauty.

And while, just like with fashion, the way I curate my personal style at home will look different than your unique approach, I think there are a few guiding principles to get you started.


It starts with intention

You have to care. That’s the number one rule about becoming a man of style at home – it can’t be phoned in or delegated. It takes time, energy, thought and effort. But it’s an immensely worthy investment and one that will pay you back handsomely by turning everyday moments at home into something exceptional.

We’ve all been to those homes. The ones that look nice on the surface, but there’s nothing deeper than surface-level. These are the homes where the interior designer has made all the decisions, and, in doing so, has watered down all character and uniqueness; where the artwork hanging on the walls is also hanging on the walls in thousands of other homes; and where a certainly too-expensive vase has no story to tell to justify the space it takes up.

On the other side of the equation, we’ve also been to homes that are warm and welcoming – just without any sense of curation or attempt to create beauty. Sure, to some, beauty is a luxury – not a necessity – but I subscribe to the Robin Williams philosophy from “Dead Poets Society”: “poetry, beauty, romance, love . . . these are what we stay alive for,” and that includes expressing beauty and style through your home.

And while money certainly plays a factor into the size of the home you have and the types of things you fill it with, there are countless vintage, white elephant and resale shops with a plethora of beautiful and unique art, furniture and décor to express style within any budget.

You just have to care.


Showcase your interests in a genuine and authentic way

A home is also a canvas – the one place in the world where you can, without compromise or restraint, truly lean into all that you love in the world. Don’t miss this opportunity!

As a born and raised proud Chicagoan, my home is filled with photos of the city. Even better, they’re photos I took. Am I trained photographer? Nope. Are they the best photos that exist of the city? Absolutely not. But in displaying them, I not only celebrate my city, but also showcase a budding hobby. They’re unique in the world and they come with a story to tell.

I’m also extremely fortunate to have an artist for a godfather and he’s provided a bounty of art to grace my walls and my tabletops. His style is edgy, abstract and contemporary, and his pieces – intermixed with my black and white photos of Chicago – combine to create a dynamic fabric of expression that’s uniquely mine.

In a similar vein, my favorite aesthetic is Ralph Lauren’s, a designer as comfortable as any at juxtaposing design styles: the elegant with the rugged and the classic with the modern; at once global yet proudly American. My home seeks to reflect that, too, where an American flags leans against a bar cart filled with spirits from across the world and where photos of Frank Sinatra and the Seagram’s building share space with watercolors from Barcelona and Paris.

This is not to say your home should display photos of Chicago, my godfather’s art, or reflect a Ralph Lauren aesthetic – those are my interests. Think about yours and celebrate them proudly.


Lean into your hobbies

In a similar vein, your home should make it effortless to lean into your hobbies. Mine are cooking, reading, gardening, and writing (thanks, He Spoke Style!).

My kitchen is stocked with the right utensils, a very deep spice cabinet, and lots of counter space. I have everything I need to pretend I’m Jeremy Allen White from “The Bear” to properly mise en place with my Japanese chef knives, get the perfect sear on short ribs or chicken thighs in a Le Creuset Dutch oven, and plate my meals as if preparing service in a Michelin-starred restaurant.

When I read, it’s in my Eames chair, one that I melt into as much physically as I emotionally melt into the scintillating prose from the book I’m reading – with a small side table that has just enough room for my coffee (or cocktail, depending on the hour).

And although I live in the heart of Chicago, I take every opportunity to curate a garden each year, celebrating each new shoot or bloom as I create a little oasis among the asphalt that allows me to grab a bottle of French rose, turn on “Crepuscolo Sul Mare,” and pretend I’m in the Mediterranean.


Set the mood

On that note, whatever season it is and whatever you’re doing, you’ve got to set the mood. Don’t spoil the joy of celebrating your interests and embracing your hobbies with an atmosphere that feels like a doctor’s office (see overhead lighting) or a garage sale (you’ve got to keep your place tidy).

Lamps and candles are your best friend in this regard. They add warmth and glow to any room – and with the right candle, can make your place feel like the swanky lobby of an elegant hotel in London or Singapore. My favorite candles have complex scents that feel at once unique yet familiar and lean into stronger notes like cedar, frankincense, and vetiver. A few of my go-to candles these days are Ski House by LAFCO, Hinoki Fantome by Boy Smells, and Black Rose & Oud by Salt & Stone (and, for the holidays, Ralph Lauren’s Classic Holiday Candle).

While we’re on this subject, let’s talk about clutter. It doesn’t matter how interesting the art on your walls is or that your guitar or record collection is incredibly rare if your place is filled with disorganization and mess. This is not to say that it shouldn’t look lived in – a sterile home that feels like a museum isn’t any better – but this is a plea to ensure everything has a place.

As a father of two under five, it’d be extremely easy to let the kids’ “stuff” encroach on every inch of the house, but my wife and I make it a point to have specific places where everything goes at the end of the day: a basket (or two, in our case) for all the toys, a shelf with drawers for their craft supplies, and hooks in the hallway for all their layers and jackets.

If you have a bunch of returns collecting by the front door, put them in a bag discretely behind a chair. Go through your mail, toss the junk and put the rest in a specific place (and no, the specific place should not be your kitchen island). Keeping your home tidy and free of unnecessary mess will not only create a calmer space, but a more stylish one, too.


It’s okay to indulge (within reason)

There’s also one extravagant element I’ve now made a “must” for any home I live in (to my wife’s chagrin as we currently search for our “forever home”): a wood-burning fireplace. While this should – on any reasonable man’s list – sit on the “nice to haves”, for me – a very sensory person who lives in Chicago – it’s my one extreme indulgence.

With the city’s capricious weather (and a wonderful summer season that’s sadly far too short), the fireplace in our current home gets used nearly 8 months of the year, its comforting smell enveloping the living room, its flickering flames dancing on the wood floor, and its familiar snap, crackle and pop soundtrack all coming together to create a little cozy hamlet in the middle of our busy urban neighborhood.

I realize how incredibly fortunate I am to have such an unnecessary thing on my “must have” list, but life is short and filled with things you can’t control, so I fully support finding something that brings you an overwhelming amount of joy and leaning into it (as long as you appreciate how blessed you are to indulge in said extravagance).

While fireplaces might not be your thing, I encourage you to find your own indulgence – a commercial grade cooking range, a home with a rooftop patio, an espresso machine whose price makes you blush – that can transform the mundane of the everyday to the exceptional right there within your home.


Can you host others as easily as yourself?

“No man is an island” and so while it’s important for your home to be a personal sanctuary, it should also allow you to entertain others to a good time. Life can be at its best when shared, and if you’ve curated your home to expertly suit your lifestyle, it goes to reason that your home can become even better when filled with those closest to you.

If cocktails are your thing, have a go-to recipe or two memorized (along with the right tools to serve the perfect version). Be able to offer food (more than just chips and dip) by having a collection of a few trays and platters you can use for charcuterie or other unique bites. I’m also a big believer that it’s wise to always have bottle of bubbly (as well as some light beers) chilling in your fridge as you never know what the day (or evening) will bring.

And those other principles in this article go a long way toward being a good host in your space as well. A tidy home makes getting ready for company a cinch. Being able to set the mood works just as well for one as it does for a crowd. And a home full of your life’s interests and hobbies is a unique, personal showcase – one that’s fun to take your guests through (as long as they’re curious and the tour is done humbly).

Just promise me that while you’re explaining that special chair or art piece in your house, you leave out the price tag and focus instead on the story behind it and what it means to you.


The Bottom Line

“Love how you live in the moments that matter.” No, this beautiful phrase isn’t another quote from Miles Davis, but rather the mission statement from Crate & Barrel. And despite its prosaic commercial provenance, I absolutely love the sentiment it evokes, encapsulating all the principles this article lays out in eight pithy words.

Being intentional. Celebrating your interests and empowering your hobbies. Creating a mood that’s enjoyable for you as well as others. Indulging (within reason).

All of these principles ultimately seek to work together in harmony to create a home where you love how you live in the moments that matter.

A home you’re proud of. A home that can make any day – in any season, at any time – be your favorite place to be.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,
David Reardon - He Spoke Style

David Reardon

Born and raised in Chicago, David is a romantic who is fulfilled by connecting with others on how amazing life can be. He is the Global Senior Brand Manager for Maker’s Mark which, is essentially, his dream job. His role allows him to work with the founding family to launch innovations and connect with consumers globally. Men’s style is his passion and the closest he feels to being an artist. The confidence that comes with dressing with style and thoughtfulness drives him. He still lives in Chicago with his incredible wife, Tara, and his two amazing children, Emma and Noah, who mean everything in the world to him.

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Edited by Brian Sacawa

Diptyque Candle Photo by Rob McIver


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