Carol Sampson
Submitted photo

It’s a fact, when it comes to buying or selling any house the kitchen gets the No. 1 scrutiny and can make or break the sale. It is the most used space in the house and has the most expensive components concentrated in one spot. The kitchen has been the most evolved room in the house and does not look nor function the same as yesterday’s kitchen.

Space wise, kitchens have evolved by taking up more area to accommodate open space plans, participation of family and guests and all those new home chefs who have taken cooking courses and now require more prep space and cooking equipment. Kitchens are now considered the “Hearth of the Home” and are getting the most attention from buyers and homeowners during real estate sales or remodeling projects.

Appearance wise, kitchens have evolved to become the most designed and decorative place in the home. Vast amounts of colors, textures, surfaces, products and luxury items in the kitchen are now common requests when it comes to purchasing a new home or remodeling an existing one.

Budget wise, money spent on kitchens has evolved making it a challenging balance between whether to splurge or save on selections in each product category of cabinetry, appliances, counter tops, plumbing, flooring, lighting and equipment. Making choices for all those decisions and keeping the design cohesive can be daunting. Sometimes a “Ben Franklin Close” is the easier way to make your choice. That real estate expression means you take a piece of paper, make two columns, one positive, one negative, and see which one is longer. That gives you the answer to whether you want function, pricing or style to prevail when purchasing each product. And, of course, a professional interior designer can make the process and choices more satisfactory for the final budget and design.

Product wise, kitchens now have multiple choices for every product in variety and flexibility that include choices of technology, size, function and styling. For example, Thermadore has a new free-standing range, called the Pro Grand Steam Range, that will cook with steam. Steam cooking is a growing trend and offers more health benefits and better flavors. Included in this trend setter is a 48-inch range top with six-star burners with an extra low simmer option and a 22,000BTU Power Burner, a convection oven and a warming drawer. Another growing trend is ridding ourselves of plastics inside dishwashers where racks with plastic-coated stems eventually melt away exposing rust and pollutants during the washing and drying cycles. Many manufacturers use stainless steel tubs and racks instead, which is not only a healthier choice but makes the dishwasher last longer. They are more costly, but the health and longevity benefits can justify it.

Flooring trends have evolved from tile into wood tones from dark to light. This second generation tile is out with a smooth surface and looks better than before eliminating the textured wood grain surface where dirt could accumulate and is available in several linear sizes for broad pattern design options. This is the best, most practical flooring for families with children and dogs, easy to keep clean with the warm look and beauty of wood but the durability of tile.

Cabinetry has evolved from the basic oak to an elaborate selections of door styles in beautiful woods, stains, glazes and sizes.

Upper cabinets from 36 inches to a tall 42 inches, and lower cabinets in different heights can accommodate a vast arrangement of storage, function and style. There are hidden tip-out trays in front of sinks, pull-out corner shelves, narrow sliding pantry storage, hidden drawers, and many customized options.

Wine and beer storage has evolved from bottles stored inside the refrigerator to their own separate cabinets located anywhere in the kitchen, bar area, family room or den.

The wine cabinet features two temperature zones for storing red and white wines, and the beer cabinet uses an airflow technology that pulls the beer temperature down to 33 degrees. Cocktail hour has never been easier.

The National Kitchen Bath Association just had its annual industry show unveiling a huge array of new products and trends in each category.

The awesome selections were overwhelming and dazzled the eyes and gave me a bad case of the, “I want that!” Making personal choices, narrowing down unlimited choices with a designer’s help, can result in a very well planned and ethically beautiful kitchen.

Focusing on the requirements of a design project based on client preferences, style and budgets by suggesting solutions and weeding out those items which won’t work are the designer’s expertise.

What’s in your kitchen? Is your kitchen making you happy with its function, style and energy efficiently? Would your kitchen appeal to the next home buyer if you choose to sell your house? Is it time for a new kitchen?

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Carol Sampson is an award-winning interior designer and author of 35 years. Reach her at (480) 759-6763 or visit

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