You’re probably familiar with the concept, but ‘his and hers’ areas go far beyond public restrooms and related areas that are gender-specific and sometimes even no-go zones for the opposite sex. Go with classic examples such as girly dressing rooms or blokey dens, or better still, mix things up a little and make your home really interesting.

For those with the means and space it is often recommendable to create specific areas of interest in a home that stand apart from the main, ‘communal’ parts such as a lounge, kitchen, terrace or formal dining room. They can be shared areas, such as a family or TV room, a home cinema or a courtyard, or more specific to the tastes and preferences of a particular age group – as in children’s play areas, games rooms, basketball courts or even playgrounds.

A very common theme in this regard is the gender-based division of a home into his and hers domains that operate almost like separate wings flanking the main shared areas. They provide the lady and the gent of the house a chance to claim a specific domain for themselves in which they can enjoy peace, space, truly be themselves and pursue those interests most typically associated with them, their friends and peers.

Rooms with a Gender

The very idea of splitting a home along these lines can seem a little outdated unless you approach it with a sense of fun and practicality. If done properly, his and hers areas are not designed to put anyone in their place or tuck them out of the way, but to provide a cohabitating couple with a little private space either just for themselves or in which they can entertain those of like mind. It is an area in which to spend time, not live, for if you find yourself not enjoying the main shared spaces of the home and retreat into your own domain too much, you should slowly begin to question the relationship.

Dressing and Bathing

That aside, the most practical application of his and hers areas in a house, albeit a sizeable one, is the division of the dressing areas and even the master suite bathroom. It is here that the woman tends to gain priority, for these are seen as essentially feminine spaces in which women spend more time and to which they attach more importance than a man. Times are changing, however, and while a beautiful dressing room where you can keep your clothes in style and also dress in comfort remains relatively more important for a woman, many a man would love to keep his wardrobe in a similarly organised and impressive manner.

Given the different nature of men’s and women’s clothing, the style and configuration of the two dressing areas will be different, and very often they are arranged in almost symmetrical ‘wings’, though seldom in a straight 50/50 proportion. Ladies like lighter colours and elegant soft furnishings in their dressing rooms, while men are starting to put their mark on this kind of area by using slightly darker, heavier tones and materials, often with a somewhat classical touch that makes them feel like a dashing gentleman of old. Our advice here is that, being a very personal and sensory space, neither man nor woman should hold back in making this a room that expresses their style and makes them feel comfortable.

When splitting a bathroom into Yin and Yang zones the first part that comes to mind is the toilet area itself. How practical and convenient for both if they can be discreetly tucked away in opposite sides of the room for optimal privacy. Though it is not a possibility for all, keeping the functional part of the bathroom apart in this way does much to maintain a certain mystique in a marriage, while separate wash basins are almost as beneficial for a happy union. Here again, women tend to have more in the way of cosmetics, skin creams and associated personal items, and therefore might require more space as well as a special area for the application of make-up.

If you take things a step further, as many in the larger Marbella villas do, and create two separate his and her bathrooms, you will probably find that he goes for black or deep brown marble, or perhaps minimalist functionality, while she opts for lighter or more colourful marble or more ornate designs, and luxuriant elements (such as freestanding bathtubs). This can be a mistake, for having separate baths and showers reduces the opportunity for intimacy and the romance of a shared bubble bath, the gesture of running a bath for your partner or even the introduction of delightful unisex designs such as Zen-inspired bathroom décor.

Relaxing and Playing

It should be clear by now that a harmonious home provides special interest areas in which children, wives and husbands can retreat and indulge their interests, but that it is even more vital that these do not become a substitute for the shared common core of the home – the kitchen, living room, dining room and terrace with pool area, above all, and any space or living environment in which the household likes to spend time together. Though traditionally the lady of the house had more of a hand in the decoration of the home in general, these days such clearly defined roles are becoming far less rigid and more dependent on the personal preferences of the individuals involved.

A lot of men are very interested in design now, and many far more so than their wives or girlfriends. Generally, though, the main shared part of the home should reflect all its inhabitants and be a place where they feel comfortable and at home. The décor of these areas – which are also the main reception spaces where you receive guests and entertain – therefore tends to be a little more mainstream, though if you want to let go and be eccentrically idiosyncratic, why not? You may shock your guests or delight them, but if a quirky lounge or bright kitchen makes you happy, go for it.

Mixing Styles

The more private parts of a home generally tend to lend themselves more to personalised styling, and while it can this doesn’t always include the bedrooms. For this reason, your best chance to go a little crazy is in more specific areas such as a home cinema, bar, games room, studio, exercising or yoga area, or a study/library. Traditionally, this is gender territory, with studies, libraries and wine cellars the domain of classic gentlemen – or games rooms or home cinemas their contemporary equivalent – and conservatories, arty studios and yoga rooms their female counterpart. But then again, not so long ago the kitchen was regarded as the woman’s workshop where today the cooking enthusiast of the family can be either the husband or the wife, or both, so shy away from stereotypes if they don’t apply to you.

Few Marbella homes are kitted out with actual garage-style workshops, so many of the men in these parts may want to use ‘their’ part of the home for the creation of a den dedicated to their interests – be it anything from cars and cinema to technology, art, literature or just drinking with friends. A more formal, elaborate den is of course a study or library, and a more superfluous one could become a games room, but unless particularly refined or replete with modern classic decorative elements, the latter should above all be a space for all the family, including the kids. A bar in your home can similarly be a pretty cool spot in which to entertain and socialise with friends as a couple, so the best his and hers rooms are those that offer a chance to relax, get away from the world a little and/or focus on a hobby or interest.

Women have traditionally sought this in artist style studios, reading rooms or conservatories, or spaces made for dancing, exercising or meditating. If you follow the traditional path, ‘his’ parts of the house will be covered in dark wood and heavy leather, while ‘hers’ are flowery, bright and ornate. Of course it doesn’t have to be like that – without making the home’s décor too schizophrenic you should try to shake it up a bit and be inspired by some of the greatest examples of eclectic home design, and if you can add a feminine touch to a study, make a games room into a cosy pop art gallery or veer away from too much pink and glitz in the areas chosen by her, then so much the better. Above all, his and hers domains should add to the decorative style, functionality and fun of the place you call home.