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Michelle Lerner discovers that more men are now having their say about what goes into the cooking space.?

Michelle Lerner discovers that more men are now having their say about what goes into the cooking space.​

Is the home kitchen the new man cave?

Yes, says interior designer Will Engelbrecht of WillDesign. “I’d even take it further. I’d say the kitchen is the new sports car. Being in the kitchen has been reinvented as a macho thing to do, and I am seeing men increasingly shaping kitchen design.”

Men have for some time been muscling in on the kitchen as the place to show off. “They’ve seen how celebrity chefs operate, and they want to try it out too. It’s theatre for them. Celebrity chef Floyd started them thinking they could do it, and then you had Jamie Oliver. Locally we have Reuben Riffel and Pete Goffe-Wood making cooking macho and sexy.”

He says men are not afraid to splash out: “Last year we were talking about the reinvention of the old man cave. This year we are seeing men recreate that man cave space in the kitchen, where they love to showcase their cooking skills and hi-tech appliances.”

According to a 2012 University of Michigan study, GenX men (born between 1961 and 1981) cook an average of about eight meals a week, much more often than their fathers did, and nearly as often as women. As a result, men are as likely as women to drive the design decisions in new kitchens.

American restaurateur Nizam Ali has a black-and-brass La Cornue French range as the focal point in his kitchen. Picture: Katherine Frey

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) says design trends associated with men in the kitchen include more contemporary styles, such as flat-front cabinetry, bolder colours, contrasting colour palettes and upgraded appliances.

Designers say a decade ago husbands weren’t as involved as much in decisions about kitchen design, and one partner would often make most of the choices. Now, they say, both partners often collaborate on design choices, each with their own priorities.

Men spend about 30% more than women on appliances, according to research.

“Men love gadgets and appliances, and those are the stand-out features they look for,” adds Engelbrecht.

Nadia Subaran, co-founder of Aidan Design, says it used to be that the husband would attend early meetings about a kitchen remodel and be tough on the numbers, but otherwise the wife would take charge.

Having an island with seating for guests makes the kitchen more like a showplace, where guests can watch while you cook. Picture: Supplied

“That’s changed dramatically over the past few years, and now in many cases the husband is the main cook and decision-maker,” she says.

Subaran says in many cases men are pushing for larger and more hi-tech appliances and are willing to spend more for those items.

Designer Megan Padilla has found “most of the men we work with favour industrial-style ranges”.

Blue Arnold, principal of Kitchens by Request, says a difference he sees between male and female clients is that men want “experiential cooking, with big and bold kitchens and big and bold cooking that blends outdoor and indoor cooking techniques”.

“For one couple I worked with, the husband wanted the kitchen to be like a showplace where his wife and their guests could watch him cook when they were entertaining,” says Arnold.

“He wanted an island with seating for his guests, a butcher block section, a wire-scraped granite section and a glass-front fridge, like he has seen on TV.”

Pizza ovens are often high on the wishlist when men are involved in remodelling the kitchen.
Picture: Supplied

Arnold says many of his male clients like to connect their indoor kitchen with French doors to the deck so they can cook indoors and outdoors simultaneously.

“A lot of couples now want two or more sinks because they are cooking together,” says Arnold.

Michael Merschat, an architect, says some of his client couples collaborate on their kitchen because both partners like to cook or bake, while with other clients, the husband does all the cooking and also makes the design decisions.

He says in both scenarios men tend to emphasise high-end upgraded appliances as the driving force for the remodel.

At another of Merschat’s kitchen remodel projects just about to begin construction, the wife is driving style choices such as the fixtures, counters and tile backsplash, while the husband is focused on storing items he uses to cook such as small appliances, minimising clutter and adding a microwave drawer instead of an oven to keep it out of the upper cabinets.

Washington Post and Independent HOME


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