Kitchen designed by Michael Menn, Michael Menn Ltd., Chicago.
Kitchen designed by Michael Menn, Michael Menn Ltd., Chicago.

The combination of retiring boomers and the proliferation of cooking shows has led to more men in the kitchen. It’s a trend, Chicago’s Michael Menn, principle of Michael Menn Ltd., has noticed. “Part of my discovery process is asking how the kitchen will be used. Who cooks? Who cleans? In many cases (like this one) the husband really gets into it,” he says.

In this Italiante style home, the couple wanted a kitchen with a Tuscan feel. The husband spends his free time making handmade pasta and cooking for large family gatherings on Sundays. The wife does all the baking. She has “her” counter space (A) and two pop-up areas on the island (C) that hide her mix masters. He has “his” prep sink (B). There’s also an arched recess cooking area over the cook top, which “makes him happy,” Menn says. That area (not pictured) is where he does most of the heavy duty weekend cooking.

The couple also has a butler’s pantry with cabinets and a secondary pantry that holds their second oven and – trend alert – their microwave. Menn is getting more requests for this microwave placement. “People are finding out they’re not using the microwave the way they thought it might be used. Most people reheat a cup of coffee or defrost something,” Menn says. “It’s ugly and not the greatest cooking appliance.”

—Stacey Freed is a senior editor at REMODELING.