Battle of the sexes: Decoding our differences when shopping for a new home

Do you remember the hugely-popular 1990s book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray? If you’re not from that era (or happily avoided it), Gray posited that fundamental psychological differences between men and women are to blame for most relationship issues, and thus, we must communicate differently. At the time, the advice in the book was groundbreaking enough to keep it on the New York Times bestseller list for 121 weeks.

So what’s our point? 

As with relationships, when it comes to what we want in a home, people continue to hail from different planets (ideologically speaking). You don’t need to read a book, however, to decode those differences and make them work for you. 

What Women Want (Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves! And yes, we are reading your mind.)

Women have many thoughts on their favorite home features, but what it comes down to is this: Make her life easier and make it aesthetically pleasing at the same time.

What does that involve, specifically?

  • Natural light – She wants lots of windows to let in the light and an open floor plan that prevents closed off, uninviting spaces.
  • Smart storage – There’s no such thing as too much storage, but it needs to be logical. In the kitchen, a walk-in pantry is ideal versus open shelves where everything is on display. The foyer should have cubbies where muddy shoes and dog food coexist in secret, etc.
  • Quality kitchen and bathrooms – A kitchen should be beautiful and useful, providing the user with modern standards like marble countertops, charging stations, and—wonder of wonders—outlets that pop out and can be tucked back in. When it comes to bathrooms, light and clean is the way to go. The master bathroom is especially important to women. They’re seeking a peaceful oasis. (I mean, kids are great, but sometimes, ya gotta get away.)

When they look outside, women tend to focus most on the landscaping. (Again, make it beautiful.) Not so with the men. Let’s look at what the fellas like and see how everything comes together. 

What Men Want (We think this has probably been portrayed on the big screen many times over.)

Life is all about balance, right? The universe knows that because the men seem to focus on what the women don’t.

Which leads us to a cliché: it appears that there’s truth to that, as guys really do like their toys—specifically tech toys. Lucky them, because now is an especially great time in technology as smart features become the norm in most new homes.

Helen Velas, president of Eleni Interiors in Naperville, IL told the Chicago Tribune: “Men like new gadgets, like the faucets that run water that looks blue when it’s cold and red when hot. They like walk-in showers for two with multiple shower heads. Men tend to be more interested in energy-efficiency that saves on utility bills,” she said.

The takeaway so far? Men enjoy cool technology both for the fun of it and potential savings. (If anyone grew up with a dad who insisted you put on ALL the layers before he would even consider turning up the thermostat, increased energy efficiency is great news!) 

The basement, garage, and back patio also remain part of the male domain, for the most part. (Yes, ‘she sheds’ aside!) Basements are ideal spaces for man caves or exercise rooms, while garages are prime workshop real estate. Of course, lots of folks are interested in these features, even if the marketing skews male. (Do we trust marketers? Probably not…) Anyhow, last but not least: the back patio works as a gathering place for the fellas while the ladies cluster around that marble-topped kitchen island. Or maybe at your place, it’s vice-versa. Either way, add a built-in, top-of-the-line grill and everyone’s happy. 

What Both Men and Women Want

According to Gopal Ahluwalia, staff vice president for research at the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C., “Thirty years ago, people bought just for shelter. Today, they’re buying for lifestyle and investment. Now buyers are more educated than their grandparents.”

Moving up in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We’re lucky we get to focus on more than just a place to keep ourselves dry and warm. Regardless of gender, it comes down to knowing what’s important to both you and your partner, and striking a balance that works for the whole family. 

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