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Kitchen is the most used room in the house

"The extent and condition of our property, and our choice of style in dwelling, create a powerful emblem of our identity and status." — Deborah Tall (1951-2006), American writer and poet, "Dwelling," "From Where We Stand" (1993)

Kitchens are truly the heart of the home, whether you are a foodie, gourmet cook or just like to hang out with friends and family. They have also become laboratories for modern design, with every sleek solid surface, finish, and modern appliance imaginable.

As we just celebrated a big eating holiday, chances are most of you and your guests ended up in the kitchen. Because kitchens are so popular, their design and effectiveness are very important.

While a lot of us enjoy the sterile, clean lines of the contemporary kitchen, others miss the cozy, comforting kitchen they knew as a child. More than likely it's the smell of freshly baked cookies or whatever aroma you remember from your childhood that you are missing. I'm sure it's not the old standalone stoves, the "sink in a cabinet," or old cracked linoleum floors that you miss. Everybody wants the modern appliances and trimmings that make cooking and working in the kitchen a joy.

Kitchens are just like every other room in your home. The decor can be made up of mixed patterns, finishes and materials. One style or one trend doesn't have to dominate.

In a recent column I mentioned how a lot of us now use our kitchens not only for cooking, eating and gathering, but also using them for pop-up offices — and kids definitely use them for doing homework while Moms does dinner or snacks.

Several facts

It is more than likely the most used space in your home. Kitchens are the spaces that homebuyers go to first and seem to have more concerns about than any other room in the home; if your home goes on the market, renovated kitchens add more to your selling price than any other space.

When some homeowners renovate their kitchens, they keep all of those things in mind, particularly the money ones. But a lot of folks I know say, "This is my home, and I want it to be for me. I don't really plan to sell and don't need to worry about that." So, however you chose to think about your kitchen, there are so many options to make it a happening place.

In the world of modern kitchens, it is so easy to choose a cabinet collection or decorative finish that turns out to be a short-lived passing fancy fad and not the investment you envisioned.

But when it comes to creating a fashionable, yet modern kitchen that boasts high-quality, progressive technology and seamless design, there are many choices.

Traditional raised panel doors on kitchen cabinetry will complement concrete countertops. Stainless appliances complement any style. Stainless and leather bar stools look grand with any countertop material, from solid surfaces to butcher block. And sleek, clean-lined cabinetry can be softened by wicker or upholstered barstools pulled up to granite counters.

Hardware is another key to diversity in the kitchen. Traditional cabinet doors can be updated and made to look more contemporary with stainless, clean-lined handles.

Lighting also will matter in any design scheme. Tracks and pendants look great in a modern or more traditional room, but you can also soften up a totally contemporary kitchen with a beautiful chandelier over the island.

The kitchen is like any other room in your home in that it's yours — make it what you want it to be. You know that your family and friends will gravitate to it and usually spend more time in there than other public spaces. So you want it to please you and be welcoming to all of those folks who live with you or come to visit.

The choices are endless. There are also great variations in prices so whatever your budget you can usually find what you're looking for. Look in design magazines. wholesale showrooms and retail businesses or prowl around online.

However you choose to do your kitchen, just make it yours and remember that everybody in your family and all of your guests will make a beeline for it. Remember Deborah Tall's quote that it will "create a powerful emblem of our identify and status."

And you can certainly interpret that anyway you wish. Just make it something you love and want to be in.

— Carolyn Muse Grant is a founder and past president of the Architectural & Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant/stylist specializing in home staging. Send questions to creativemuse@cox.net.

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