A man cave? A leather lounge chair? That big fish mounted on the wall that they caught?
Single men may not rival women in terms of the number who are buying houses and condominiums on their own. Women represent 17 percent of homebuyers in this country, compared with 7 percent of single men, according to the most recent data from the National Association of Realtors(R) (NAR). But men still reflect a strong, steady cohort due to a variety of factors from delaying marriage—some for their own reasons and some because women want to pursue their careers before they say “yes.” And then there are divorced and widowed men who want to change their home after they’ve gone through a breakup or loss.
Chicago designer Susan Brunstrum, owner of Sweet Peas Design (https://sweetpeas-inspired.com/), began to recognize this trend two years ago. At that time she noted that more male clients started to call her up for design help, rather than try to make purchases and arrange all they had on their own, especially after she relocated her office to the city of Chicago from one of its suburbs. She discovered that what many of male clients wanted and want is very different from their single female counterparts, from how they consider design possibilities to what they end up selecting. Here are some of Brunstrum’s findings that may guide you if you’re in a home-furnishings or house related business or are a man reading this post and eager to furnish or rearrange your home.
Unlike female homeowners, men don’t feel compelled to control the design process. They are much more open to finding someone they can hire to work with rather than make choices on their own. They also don’t feel compelled to ask “10 people and get six referrals for every decision like women do,” Brunstrum says. “They may ask the Realtor® they worked with for one design referral, or the guy who helps them choose their clothing or the wife of their best friend,” she says.
They’re happy to fill out a questionnaire to help her get a handle on what they like and don’t like and seem to know themselves and their taste well, Brunstrum says.
They’re able to sort through their “leftovers” from a divorce and give items away to children or friends and move on with a clean slate, unlike many women who feel they must hang onto sentimental objects, at least for a while or sometimes even a long term.
They are willing to tag along to showrooms or stores to see possibilities in furnishings and colors, but they want to do so in a short timeframe. They also can make decisions about what they like and don’t like—“boom, boom, boom,” Brunstrum says. “And they tend not to change their minds once they decide.”
When she visits them in their home or office, they also want to see options in quick often 15-to-30-minute to 60-minute meetings—no long schmooze and digressions away from the task at hand. Brunstrum also knows they like to schedule these sessions on a regular basis and have a succinct report as part. “Men want an ‘executive’ summary weekly that details what’s been ordered, what’s arriving soon, what’s happening with other items ordered or being considered,” she says. And at these meetings she tends to zero in on what’s most important at the moment, perhaps, lighting, electronics, cooking equipment.
While each male client has a specific look that he’s after—like female clients, she’s found some similarities such as a desire for clean lines, few curves, chunky accents, comfort, some color and an overall more transitional than traditional or very modern look. They want it to exude a personal style so friends and family who walk in can gain a sense of who lives there. “Most have a collection of some kind that they want us to showcase by pulling it together,” she says.
They’re able to set a budget and are willing to invest in some big purchases for themselves without feeling guilty. “Many female clients tend to buy for everyone else first and put themselves last,” Brunstrum says. Men also tend to think in terms of quality and long lasting rather than making purchases just for the moment or until someone comes along who will have a say in how they live.
Her biggest surprise in working with this group is that “men are incredibly appreciative of her efforts as they realize they need assistance and project management,” she says.
And since she started working more with single men, she’s made changes in how her company works with all clients. “We now email everyone on Fridays to update them about where their projects stand—what orders we’ve placed, what we need to focus on, etc.,” she says.