September 26, 2014

The good, the bad and the manly of men’s home style.

Why it's suddenly a hot topic and where it's going, from two trail blazers at TRNK.

A few weeks ago, the guys from TRNK offered five tips for creating a masculine home. It’s been hands down one of our most popular pieces.

Seems there’s a bit of a moment happening when it comes to guys and their homes. TRNK, pronounced “trunk”, is a site with stories about guys in their spaces, some decor how-tos and a shop. It launched earlier this year, but is already playing a big role in re-balancing the yin and yang of home design.

Tariq Dixon and Nick Nemechek of TRNK NY

So we caught up with Tariq Dixon and Nick Nemechek, the brains behind the site, to find out why the idea of the masculine home (not to be confused with the man cave) is a new one, and why it’s suddenly grabbing eyeballs and making waves.

What’s changing in culture, to create a need for a site about men’s homes?

“Dynamics in the home have really shifted. It’s not a feminine domain anymore; it’s a space that’s shared. And there’s a huge demographic shift going on generally too. In 40% of American homes, men are the primary grocery shoppers. Companies are starting to get in on this — I mean, you see football players on laundry bottles.

“Guys are really interested in playing more of a role in creating their space, but don’t have the resources or confidence.”

TRNK interior #1

Why do guys lack confidence in making their own spaces?

“One of the biggest challenges, speaking from our own experience, is not having the right information. It’s hard to be confident when nothing is aimed at you or merchandised for you. Like, you read a publication and you’re clearly not the audience.

What is different about men’s approach to the home?

“Men generally prefer to deal with fewer options — they don’t tend to like it when there are too many possibilities. So when you’re offering advice and ideas, you have to keep it simple and streamlined in the process. And they like to feel they have a trusted source, which is why we try to keep it narrow and vetted.”

TRNK interior #2

What approaches tend to work for men?

“The language on our site is about picking what speaks to you, and confirming that you can’t go wrong if you pick objects that have meaning to you. You don’t need overthink it. Little things compounded can create a beautiful space you love.

“Also, the guys we feature on the site in the stories section gravitate to the qualities of a specific object — they like a lot of durable and weathered materials. And they’re fascinated by the construction of a piece of furniture. They spend a lot of time talking to us about what products are made of, and how they’re made.

“We hear a lot that guys want a home that feels lived in, that they can be comfortable in. Comfort is the key, not creating a space for entertaining, but about living in it and enjoying it.

Tariq Dixon and Nick Nemechek of TRNK NY

Where’d you get the idea for this start-up?

“We come from merchandizing backgrounds—we met at Gilt Group, and before that Nick worked as a menswear merchant at J. Crew. So we saw a lot of dialog about men’s style, but noticed the dialog was missing about men’s homes.

“Also, we invested so much time and energy furnishing our own homes. And we had to look in so many different retailers to get what we needed. We couldn’t find a space that provided both inspiration and objects. So we created it ourselves.”

Where’d you get the idea for the name?

“It’s initials from our two names. We started playing with anagrams with our names, and realized we couldn’t use all of the letters so we just went with the first ones. Plus, there’s the significance of the trunk — it’s where you put heirlooms and mementos. Things you want to have around forever.”

Find out more about Tariq and Nick. Read more of their how-tos and stories. Or read their column in GQ.