Gender x Domesticity.

The aim of the project is to investigate the social construction of gendered experiences in a space and redesigning a gender-neutral home.

What does Gendered spaces mean?

Gendered spaces refer to a set of spaces that are allocated to people based on their gender identity. Gendered spaces also reflect the social norms of everyday life (Nakhal, 2015), where spaces are determined based on the notion of gender while interacting with the activities. (Golfman, 1977)

What does gendered spaces mean to me?

In my opinion, it seems that women are confined by the standardized procedures by the society. In turn, the society possesses a thought that recommends household chores and tasks as a job for the women, so that they would dedicate themselves fully to the house. It reflected the moral values of society in the past. Coming back to the present, women have changed their way of thinking. Instead of accepting the nature of women’s domesticity, they hoped for status, power and education. Compared with the past and present, the way women perceived things have definitely changed. This motivated women to actively support and pursue their own domesticity.

Case Study: My Home

How are family roles being played out in gendered spaces?

Using my house as a case study, my main aim would be looking into how social policies have affected the way I live, as 80% of Singapore’s population lives in a Public Housing unit. Through the narrative view of a first person account, it helps to better understand the idea that I would want to bring forth, through material objects as it gives a relation to the occupants. It also delves into the negotiation and segregation of spaces caused by gender. I will be using an autoethnographic approach to analyze this case study with some frameworks that are used to facilitate it. The case study takes a walk through the house with a floor plan of the unit and photographs to capture the essentials. The house that I am staying in is a four-room flat that was built in 1997, in the estate of Jurong East.

How do you define ‘masculine’ or a ‘feminine’ space?

Before I dive into splitting up the spaces into ‘his’ and ‘hers’, I would need to find out the real meaning of gender. If so, what tools do I use to define gender? Looking at the precedent study done by Hannah Rozenberg, she came up with a digital calculator to define the meaning of gender. By using gender biases that were embedded in technology, I was able to find out the ‘gender’ of certain spaces.

On the right, the diagram shows an example of how the digital calculator works. By inputting a certain word, the graph would lean towards ‘he’ or ‘she’. In order to try it out, I keyed in ‘blue’ and ‘pink’, and the results was what I have expected. Leaning towards the right would give it a positive gender unit, which means ‘pink’ is greatly associated with ‘she’. Leaning towards the left would give it a negative gender unit, which means ‘blue’ is associated with ‘he’. This tool has greatly helped me to understand that certain terms have already been embedded into the society and/or technology, thus, it is tough to change the conception of such mindset.

What is considered a ‘masculine’ or a ‘feminine’ space?

Moving forward, I used the digital calculator to calculate the spaces in my home. The results are not what I expected to be as it differs from my family’s space usage. *GU represents Gender Unit.

How can I redefine Gendered Spaces?

What would happen if I use gender stereotypes to design the homes?

Based on the typical stereotypes that are given to each gender, I will be using those terms to redesigning the home. The three designs are the Female Home, the Male Home, and the Neutral Home.

My Final Home.

Does the naming of rooms affects the way the functions are being portrayed?

The house was decked in antique wood furniture, showing a preference and the control in decision making in the family. My father personally likes antique items, thus he was the one who chose the furniture and floor finishes. My mother did not have a say in it even though she did not really like it. It can be reflected that the words of a man still hold its importance in the family. (“The Significance of a Father’s Influence - Focus on the Family”, 2011) Also, both of my parents think that having Chinese New Year decorations in the house would bring auspicious luck into the house. We would keep those even after Chinese New Year has passed. With a traditional mindset, they think that it signifies a year’s worth of luck and prosperity. The dining table can be seen having objects placed on it. It is rare to see family members eating together, as we eat at different timings based on our own schedules. It does not serve its original purpose of dining table, rather, it became a furniture that people have looked upon.
Cleanliness and neatness is maintained in the kitchen by my mother. She tidies the house everyday When my father comes home, he would be glad with the house’s condition as everything would be kept in place. He would still help out with domestic chores when he has the time to do so. This in turn reflects the patriarchy value despite the shift in Singapore in inheriting the British’s way of thinking, it can be seen that Singapore is still in a conservative society.(Katherine, 2015)
In the first case study, it can be seen that my father’s presence was significant in my house, the way we behave and the way the house is presented leads me to realise that social construction of gender has chances of adapting it to different social roles, instead of planning out by gender. It indicates the extent the influence of social policies brought upon onto the standardized living environment. In the second case study, it can be seen that cluttering of items seems to liven the state of the house. The absence of a father figure does not set the living environment any different from other families. Such roles could be adapted, and it is not based by gender. Domestic spaces force people to be adaptable to their surroundings too.
Moving forward, I used the digital calculator to calculate the spaces in my home. The results are not what I expected to be as it differs from my family’s space usage. Looking at these results, it seems that it does not accurately reflect the gender of the spaces. It deduced the value based on the terms embedded into technology, which means that the individual items like bed, pillow are already stereotyped beforehand. It can be concluded that the gender of the spaces does not have any connection to the items of the space.

Organic. Soft. Delicate.

Gender roles means that people are expected to behave, act and speak based upon their assigned sex. Females are generally expected to dress in a feminine way and be polite, accommodating and nurturing. The two gender stereotypes that I will be mentioning are personality traits and domestic behaviours. For example, women are often expected to be accommodating and emotional, and some people do expect women to take care of the household. (“Gender Identity & Roles | Feminine Traits & Stereotypes”, n.d.) If for the man the key words were quality and comfort, for a woman, it would be style and elegance. Each woman is different and thus needs to personalize her space in her own way (A man’s room vs a woman’s room: interior design tips and ideas 2008-2016). The furniture that have been chosen are mostly soft edges, providing an elegance mood throughout the house. The sofa is of organic shape, which shows the fluidity of women’s mood.

Pink. Clean. Bright.

A new study by the City University of New York proved again that men and women see differently the world, and color design is more important to women, while too many small home accessories and too much ornamentation can be disturbing to men. (Striking Gender Differences in Modern Interior Design and Decorating for Guys and Girls 2015) The scientists conducted a study and found out that women enjoy monochromatic color schemes and interior decorating ideas for women should include rich color palette with more than one color. Usually, young women tend to choose colors such as pink, lavender or light blue. These are all pastel colors with a fairy feel. (Striking Gender Differences in Modern Interior Design and Decorating for Guys and Girls 2015) By decorating the room in pink and white, it demostrate a certain emotion evoked by women. Generally, the mood will be uplifted when the room is of a lighter shade, linking it to women’s emotions. Calling something ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ doesn’t mean that particular room or decor style is only for men or women — it means that the space being described has qualities we associate more with one gender than another. (His and Hers: Analyzing “Masculine” and “Feminine” Decor n.d.)

Decorative. Sensitive. Form> Function.

Soft, comfy things (like a tufted headboard), gold, delicate prints, light colors. floral printed pillows, tiny curios, an abstract painting in lovely light colors, a vase with flowers on it, are preferred for women. (His and Hers: Analyzing “Masculine” and “Feminine” Décor, n.d.) - A young woman’s bedroom should be fresh and cheerful. It should reflect her age as well as her character, just like her cloths do. The walls should have a happy color. This way the whole room will be cheerful. (How to decorate a young woman’s bedroom, n.d.) By dressing the whole house in feminine colour, it reflects the gender stereotypes posed on women.

Angular. Dark. Complex.

Men like solid design, functional furniture, strong contrasts and comfortable colors, deep tones, like navy, black and brown. Leather, wood and heavy fabrics are their favorite materials that manifest strength and comfort. (Interior Design Ideas, Textures and Colors for Men and Women n.d.) There are a few items that a man’s room needs. One of them is the sofa. Something covered in leather and with a timeless look would be perfect. The shelving is also important. - a man’s room also needs some wall decorations. These need to be personal things, such as collections, trophies or a particular item that the user really likes. (A man’s room vs a woman’s room: interior design tips and ideas (2008-2016).

Tough. Logical. Function> Form.

Men are generally expected to be strong, aggressive, and bold. They are expected to take care of finances and doing repairs. (“Gender Identity & Roles | Feminine Traits & Stereotypes”, n.d.) A man’s room needs to be first well planned and organized. It is a space where a man can relax and enjoy himself, where he can read, write or share beers with his friends. When decorating a man’s room, you have to think of quality and comfort. If you want to furniture to last more than just a couple of year, maybe you should consider buying vintage furniture. The style suits a man and the quality it offers or superior to the one offered by current manufacturer standards. The furniture you choose then needs to be comfortable. (A man’s room vs a woman’s room: interior design tips and ideas 2008-2016)

Blue. Dominating. Decision Making.

Dark colors, masculine, gloomy, stylishly foreboding, big wood beams. Lots of texture is preferred for men. (His and Hers: Analyzing “Masculine” and “Feminine” Decor n.d.) From this house, it can be seen that the interior is decked with gender stereotypical materials/ terms based on men. Does men still have any preferences on how they want their room to be done?

Neutral. Minimal. Essential.

Many interior designers believe that there is no big difference between interior design for women and men. Comfortable and functional, harmonious and modern interior design ideas have a universal appeal, they explain. Still, if a man and a woman like one interior design style and have one favorite color, their design and room decorating ideas, solutions and realizations can be very different. Interior design for a couple should find interesting and appealing to both, a woman and a man, interior design ideas, attractively blending their tastes and personal preferences. Modern room design ideas should offer peace and comfort, balance and harmony, luxury and elegance, bringing more joy and optimism into men and women interior spaces. (Interior Design Ideas, Textures and Colors for Men and Women n.d.)

Neutral. Minimal. Essential.

There is a double bind that exists with what we call the “blue and pink stereotype” that is driving gender inequality. Why are we judging, and how do we evolve as people if we are putting these old-school frameworks on gender in today’s modern times? We have to start a new conversation that allows both men and women the freedom to identify with aspects of their personality without feeling too “feminine” or too “masculine.” (Zalis, 2019) We can start off by having gender-neutral items, neutral colours for both gender. The only way to move away from the prejudiced society would be to be yourself.

Final Perspective.


Whether the interior design for men or women, the space should be decorated with the color that the human likes best. It needs to reflect one’s personality and character. figure out the style and choose furniture and accessories that are representations of oneself In my final home, I have decided to go with the oriental theme as I followed the character of my father.

Neutral colours.

The use of neutral colours was to allow for gender-neutral experiences. Decked in wooden colours, it gives a raw feeling to the home atmosphere. The first move was to rearrange the floor plan, but giving prioritise to the rooms that has the largest space usage. The placement of the living room, dining area, altar has been changed to fit the space productivity as well. By renaming the rooms, it allows for transparency and minimise domestic conflicts. It becomes an area for rest, an area to eat and an area to pray. It eliminates any gender stereotypes by changing the way we are addressing it.