know what they say about men. Big feet, big Ö under-cabinet toe
Of course thatís what they say. "They" being kitchen
remodelers who are slowly but steadily seeing menís growing
influence on the cooking spaces they now design.
When the American suburbs erupted beginning in the 1950s, kitchens
belonged exclusively to women ó women who, on average, were about
Todayís average man is about 5-foot-9. Heís also much more
likely to at least participate in cooking, serving and cleaning than
Ward Cleaver and Ozzie Nelson were. All the testosterone-driven food
shows out there ó think "Iron Chef" ó are proof of that.
So set aside the moment a manís natural inclination toward larger,
faster and more powerful appliances and electronics ó the first
trend in male-inspired kitchen remodels is a more accommodating
"Everything in the kitchen was basically designed for a
woman," says Ed Miller of E. Miller and Associates in Cedarburg.
Kitchens for men might start with countertops at 37-1/2 or even 38
inches, as opposed to the normal 36. Exhaust hoods are raised. The
aforementioned toe space beneath cabinets increases. Sinks and prep
areas grow. Molly Madsen of AB&K in Greenfield and Mequon points
out that even the cabinet hardware ó normally not friendly to
bigger, meatier male hands ó comes under scrutiny.
Once a man fits in the kitchen, however, itís not yet a manís
kitchen. Next up are the appliances.
"Every man that walks into our showroom likes our 48-inch-wide
fridge," Madsen says. Simply put, kitchens are great places for
Madsen says her husband thinks their undercounter icemaker is
probably the coolest gadget in the entire house. Another favorite is
the dishwasher with a removable grate. It can be filled with ice so
you can chill beverages there. You have your party with ice-cold beer
and soda, and when the event is finished, just run the rinse cycle and
your "cooler" is clean.
Miller finds that men are partial to high-end appliances, such as
Sub-Zero and Viking brands, and feel the same way about cookware.
"Itís a tool in the kitchen, and men can never have enough
tools," Miller says.
Guys also get interested in the guts of the work being done in
their homes. Power tools tend to do that. "Men do get into the
finishes of things, and the construction," says Laree Allen of
Allen Kitchen and Bath. "Men tend to look at the construction
side ó what the underlay under the ceramic tile floor is going to
be, or what the finish on the cabinets is going to be."
Other considerations tend to get a manís attention in a remodel.
First, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, is the bar.
"Men get very involved in the bar," Madsen says. "If
anybody is doing a lower-level remodel, thatís the one thing you get
a lot of feedback on from the guys."
Televisions and other audio-visual conveniences are also very
important, because itís hard to make chili when youíre constantly
having to go into the next room to see whether or not the Packers were
able to finish off that drive. "Lighting is surprisingly
important," Madsen says. "I have men that seem to get
involved in that part of it. It surprises me ó a lot of people
overlook that part of it."
But while men dream big and design big in their kitchens, they tend
to sidestep other details. Miller and Madsen ó who did not collude
beforehand ó point that out.
"What we hear from females is, he loves to cook but he makes a
huge mess," Madsen says.
"When guys cook, they donít think about the mess theyíre
going to make," Miller says.
The obvious solution there is the easy-to-clean range top. Flat,
ceramic tops seem the clear choice, yet an electric countertop just
doesnít sing the same siren call as a stainless steel gas range
firing off 18,000 BTU with five burners and 6.0 cubic foot of
convection oven space (add Tim Allen-style barking here). Madsen,
however, says there are now such range tops that also lend themselves
to easy cleaning.
Another mess-busting trend is the two-dishwasher kitchen. Miller
says both kitchens he did just for men had two dishwashers.
Overall, men bring a very functional approach to kitchen
remodeling. What can be done in the kitchen and how convenient is it
going to be to do are the questions men want answered by their kitchen
designers and contractors. M