Our clash over counters—and over who calls the shots on our kitchen’s particulars—put us on the cutting edge of a major, if belated, societal shift. When it comes to designing the home kitchen, say data and industry pros, men increasingly wish to be heard. No wonder: According to a 2012 University of Michigan study of Americans born from 1961 to 1981, married and single men now cook more than their fathers did, an average of about eight meals a week.
The Elements of Guy-Galley Style: Interior designers share the strategies that satisfied their male clients’ kitchen demands.
Potent color. Predictably enough, a lot of men like dark and bold hues, offset with black or white. Designer Lisa Steinbach Schecter of Kitchens on Montana in Santa Monica, Calif., recently used a “very crisp and clean” palette of charcoal gray, dark woods, and white to revamp a Los Angeles bachelor’s condo kitchen. (He doesn’t really cook much, she noted, but wanted a set-up that might inspire him to.)
Beefed-up hardware. Big paws need big pulls, so male cooks should do hands-on testing. New York designer Young Huh likes warmer metals for a masculine look: “Brass and bronze are very popular—a little different from the typical chrome.”
Gadget pride. Men, designers find, have no interest in concealing equipment. Colorful appliances are trending, too; HGTV’s John Colaneri, co-host of “Kitchen Cousins” and “America’s Most Desperate Kitchens,” chose a bright-red Bertazzoni range for his own kitchen (“sprayed in the same factory that does Ferraris!”).
A second sink. Including suitably straightforward hardware. In his client’s Upper West Side kitchen, New York architect James Ramsey installed the industrial Dornbracht Tara Classic Single-Lever Mixer, with a spray-faucet attachment worthy of the local firehouse.
Elevated counters. Or at least one of them. Elijah and Kelty White, a Wellesley, Mass., couple who recently remodeled their kitchen, opted to raise their central island to 38 inches, 2 inches over standard. (Thicker countertops are one way to manage this.) Perimeter counters remained the standard 36 inches high.
Ample entertainment. A wireless sound system and smart TV can be controlled with a smartphone. New York designer Bob Schwartz prizes the Sonos system for its compactness and crystalline sound. “I tuck it on a high shelf in the pantry,” he said.
Super-tough surfaces. For counters, Ms. Huh recommended low-maintenance quartz and other engineered stone products, which are resistant to stains and scratches, ”in uniform colors—not a lot of speckled stone.” Caesarstone and Silestone are the big names in this category.
Power to spare. Ranges, exhaust systems and dishwashers should be heavy-duty. With a powerful stove, choose a hood designed for high BTUs, advised Ms. Huh. (It will also do a better job Hoovering all the smoke you create as you learn to train your dragon.)
Vent hood clearance. To avoid headbanging when tasting the pistou, hang the hood high, but not so high it’s ineffective; follow manufacturers’ guidelines.
Scope for performance. Outfit the island with seats and space for socializing. Avid home cook Howard Kurtzman, from L.A., who worked with Kitchens on Montana, made sure his 6-by-5½-foot center island was wide enough that “guests can share the space with me but not get in the way.”
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