What to consider when designing for different genders

Whichever style you opt for your home, in interior design, what really matters most is your comfort and own preferences. PHOTOs/Promise Twinamukye.

What you need to know:

Feminine design aims to create a space that is delicate, ornamental, light and elegant, while masculine spaces are stereotypically dark, solid and functional; often preferring leather, heavy fabrics, wood and cool metals.

When creating attractive spaces, we tend to design them in a way that matches our own personality and lifestyle. Although we are embracing gender neutrality, nevertheless, there are those quintessential elements that appeal more to one gender than the other.

It is therefore important to recognise and appreciate their diverse preferences when embarking on a décor project.

Benjamin Gahwera Ateenyi, a design architect says, having an understanding that various spaces are designed for specific users and functions, makes it easy to customise those spaces effectively. 

Furthermore, the elements of design for both genders often revolve around creating inclusive and versatile spaces and this has thus led to the evolution of gender-neutrality to take over. The popular design types are modern, traditional, rustic, and minimalistic. Therefore, when making design choices for both genders, you can consider some of these key designs.


Usually, men’s interest tends to gravitate towards dark colour palettes such as black, or blue. They want a shade that is just right. Additionally, they want a more tailored and polished look and their rooms are literally darker and more put together.

However, with women, their interest is more soft, light and calming in colour palettes. They want things that have a natural and softer look such as pink or gold.

Opting for a balanced mix of colours can appeal to both genders as it allows personal touches and customisation that reflect their unique tastes and interest. For instance, you can decide to use a dark accent wall color while the rest are light.

Ateenyi says, “Secondary and tertiary colours give a great composition as opposed to primary colours. Using neutrals such as white, off-white, grey purple, pearl, cream and greige can create a balanced look.”


People choose furniture depending on their style, comfort feel and the trend. On a gender scale, masculine furniture pieces tend to be lager, dark and made of durable materials such as leather, whereas feminine furniture is lighter with soft edges and is made of softer fabric.

For something neutral, one can focus on contemporary lines and mid-range colours such as having a dark sofa with light colour pillows.

Sustainable design

In a bid to reflect a commitment to reducing the environmental impact of resources, sustainable design practices have became an integral part in making designs in living spaces. The integration of such features into the structural design reflects a profound shift in the way we approach a living space creation. This transformation acknowledges the critical role that the physical environment plays in both gender stereotypes in health and productivity, as well as the broader responsibility of reducing the environmental impact in the different spaces.

Suzan Nabulime, a design architect says sustainable design is a home design that reduces negative impacts on the environment, while increasing the health and comfort of the occupants and focusing on eco-friendly design appeals.

A study byAaron R. Brough, James E. B. Wilkie, Jingjing Ma, Mathew S. Isaac and  David Gal to discover why are men less likely than women to embrace environmentally friendly products and behaviors, reveals that whereas prior research attributes this gender gap in sustainable consumption to personality differences between the sexes, we propose that it may also partially stem from a prevalent association between green behavior and femininity, and a corresponding stereotype (held by both men and women) that green consumers are more feminine.

Building on prior findings that men tend to be more concerned than women with gender-identity maintenance, we argue that this green-feminine stereotype may motivate men to avoid green behaviors in order to pre-serve a macho image.

In spite of this, in the realm of interior design, sustainability has been playing an active role in graying the line between masculine and feminine interior design styles. There is emphasis on soft interiors such as the use of daylight and organic materials for any gender-specific designs.

Biophilic design

Biophilic design aims to incorporate natural elements, such as plants, natural light, and water, into architectural spaces. It seeks to enhance the connection between humans and nature, leading to improved well-being, productivity, and overall satisfaction.

With the gender design stereotype, women tend to love the nature feel of plant or water addition to spaces, and natural light more than men. When natural light is evenly distributed it only reduces the dependence on artificial lighting but also elevates the overall quality of illumination, thereby enhancing the physical and psychological well-being of office occupants. The deliberate integration of natural light can significantly boost productivity, mood, and energy levels, ultimately creating a more comfortable and inviting living space.

Therefore, the biophilic design approach can be used by both genders by making good choice of material that suits both genders.

Ateenyi says, “Natural materials such as brick, stone and wood create a comfortable home and are environment friendly. You can decide to use hard and soft materials such as plants in wood vessels, bamboo fences with climbing plants on it as these create a neutral look.”


The integration of technology into design spaces is a vital response to the increasing reliance on digital tools and interconnected systems in today’s day to day life.

With the growing use of internet of things both genders are moving towards use of technology as this is essential in improving efficiency, connectivity, and overall productivity. While research shows that the men tend to use internet more than women, both male and female have been seen to incorporate technology by using some of the technology tools in their living spaces such as high speed Wi-Fi, touch less utilities, Bluetooth devices and voice-activated controls among others.

Ateenyi recommends use of smart home technology because it eases the way of living for everyone right from security, communication and comfort.


As this design approach is usually characterised by beautiful wall artworks, depending on one’s interest, both women and men choose designs that appeal to their sensibilities. If one’s aim is to achieve gender neutrality, Ateenyi recommends incorporating artwork depicting nature such as the sunset or water bodies.

This weekend’s winners for the Plascon Paint and Win promotion that has been going on for the past 7 weeks include; John Onyango Omunyin who purchased the paint from Passent hardware in Seeta, George Lawrence Bua bought it from Shree Impex Hardware in Lira, Joseph Balisanyuka bought it from Tebakyayika Paint Centre from Kisenyi, Ivan Omugole bought from Erire Hardware in Tororo, Michael Segawa purchased it from Slon Hardware in Mukono and Elisa Muchunguzi who bought the paint from Kabarebe Hardware in Kabale.