"The last environment we can control is our own homes," says Kathleen Donohue, author of "Kitchen and Bath Theme Design: An Architectural Styling Guide." "The demand [for kitchen remodels] is high and people want space that suits them exactly."
Instead of a room limited to meal preparation, the kitchen is a room for congregating. "The kitchen is becoming the new living room," Donohue says, "a room filled with furniture, not lined with cabinets."
In addition, time is a valued commodity to many homeowners. "The time we spend on something so mundane as fixing meals is turned into quality time," Donohue says. Design elements, appliances and other amenities that can achieve this have surged in popularity. She predicts hearth-like stoves and hoods that families can gather around will begin appearing in more kitchens.
While some kitchens feature appliances as focal points, other consumers are looking for completely integrated kitchens. Stainless steel continues to be a popular choice, according to Donohue.
Even cabinets--a kitchen necessity--are getting a makeover, and these new options aren’t limited to high-end kitchens. "People are starting to value furniture-like cabnetry at all price points," Donohue says. "The day of the cookie cutter kitchen is over with."