Battle Of The Sexes: Designing For Couples


Ah, the joys of first-time home buying…it takes about 5 seconds into the process to figure out that men and women are different. Let’s be clear, men and women are looking for different things when it comes to a home. So, how do we take both into account in the same environment?


As many of you know, Steven and I are relocating to the East Coast. When we were talking about what we wanted in a home I quickly spouted off my list: “I want a place where people feel welcomed, somewhere healthy with lots of natural light and air, community, space for small and large groups of people to come over….” I realized that Steven didn’t have as many preferences, only a very few strong ideas…and I was just getting started!

So, what are these differences and how do we meet everyone’s needs?

Man Cave


Let’s start with a preface: I’m going to have to work with a lot of stereotypes here, so please don’t be offended—this is very general and maybe your family works differently…that’s ok!

I’m going to set the scenario up, though like I said your family might work differently depending on what roles are placed on whom. A typical husband with a full-time job comes home after an 8-hour day of working and likely a combined 1–2 hours of rush hour traffic. Sounds fun and not stressful at all, right?! I’m sorry, but traffic makes even the most fun job not so fun. Put yourself in that position, what would you want? Retreat? Recuperation? An escape, right? Exactly! And realistically, that’s what men are often looking for. They want a place of escape from the stressful world of work noise, traffic stress and bosses breathing down their necks. I think that this is why the designation of a “man cave” has become so popular in the past few years.

She Rules The Roost


Generally, women spend significantly more time at home. Even if you are a full time working mom, those 9 months of morning sickness and toddler days add up! For this scenario, I’m going to go with what I’m guessing my future looks like: a work-from-home mom, maybe with an online job or small business.

The home is a completely different place for her. It looks nothing like a cave and something like a one-stop shop. A place for kids to run around, clients to meet, dinners to make (or burn if you’re like me) and people to feel welcome. She replies to client emails while spaghetti noodles are boiling, the laundry is running, and kids are napping (or not).

Realizing the amount of time that women spend at home, it makes a lot of sense that we have a lot more requirements than our husbands. It’s not that my opinion is more important or visa versa; both are equally important and both must be addressed for us to create a nurturing environment where we all thrive.

Great…Now What?


Great- now we have established that men and women need the exact opposite things…you didn’t need me to tell you that I suppose. But I can give you a few tips to make everyone happy and healthy, and it might even improve your marriage!

Ladies—you’re going to be working hard to figure this all out, so don’t drive yourself crazy just making everything work temporarily. Don’t settle. Make your home functional. If you need a place to organize the bills and mail as it comes in, do it. We often blame our husbands for lack of function in the home (whether we realize it or not), which just isn’t fair! Ideally you’d have space for an office on your main level. Don’t have the space? Try clearing some counter space in the kitchen, somewhere that is off limits to the rest of the world and is strictly yours. This will allow your mind to organize thoughts better and multitasking won’t be such a bother in a central, specific location. Your mind will be happier and healthier!

Alright guys, you’re going to love me for this one. Make a man cave. Just do it—you work hard all day and shouldn’t be coming home to more environmental stress. You need a space where you can get away, even for 5 minutes. Don’t think you have the space? What about that guest room? Replace the bed with a (comfortable) pull out sofa and throw the flat screen in there. Sure, you’ll have to give it up once in a while when you have guests, but the majority of the time you’ll have a great escape!

If your family is different, great! This stereotype doesn’t quite fit our family either. Just be sure to meet the needs of your spouse. It’s amazing how often we hold grudges against our significant other because of our environmental inadequacies. Isn’t your relationship worth the time and effort into making a healthier space?

I would love to hear about how you and your significant other deal with sharing a space! Please leave a comment below.

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