Everyone who owns a home knows that a kitchen is not just a place to cook food and clean dishes; it is the very hub of a busy household.

With today’s emphasis on creating homes that are geared toward entertaining friends and family, a kitchen can be “party central.” After all, when you’re in the throes of cooking a large meal for any celebration, where do your guests tend to congregate? The kitchen!

That goes for your family, too. Kids want to be where the action is happening and the food is cooking, and likely your significant other as well. So it’s critical to create an inviting space for your loved ones.

As a homeowner, you understand the limitations of your current kitchen design, as well as your “must haves” for your new one. But it can also be a daunting task to create that dream kitchen.To help you begin, here are some questions that will get you beyond the common requirements—more counter space and storage—for your new kitchen or kitchen remodel:

  • How many people will be cooking? Or are you the lone chef in your household?
  • What is your cooking style?
  • Will you use the new kitchen space for other functions such as entertaining, homework and dining? Do you need a workspace for bill-paying, paperwork organizing or general computer use?
  • How will your kitchen tie into the rest of your house?
  • Are there any special requirements for appliances?
  • What is your kitchen-design budget?

Whether you’re starting from scratch, tweaking for a subtle, budget-friendly update, or demolishing your outdated kitchen to create your dream one, here are some of the trends and considerations in helping you plan your design:

  • Increased storage and specific functionality of cabinets (baking-sheet racks, large skillet drawers, trash pullouts, heavy-duty pullout shelves)
  • ADA/aging-in-place concepts; microwave drawers and double ovens (including a convection model); vented microwaves
  • Hood vents for odors and smoke
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • Tile backsplashes
  • Low-maintenance materials (solid-surface countertops, tile/wood floors)
  • Under-mount sinks; breakfast bars
  • Under-counter lights; skylights and sun tunnels
  • Space-efficient office areas