Last year, the National Association of Home Builders surveyed builders, designers, architects, manufacturers and marketing specialists to glean their thoughts of what the "Home of 2015" would look like. The kitchen of the future, it found, would include such things as a double sink, recessed lighting and table space for eating.
A separate survey revealed other features consumers wanted: 86% want a walk-in pantry, 80% an island work area and 66% "special use storage" custom made for appliances. Seventy-two percent made their pitch for a built-in microwave and 69% said a drinking-water filtration system is a must-have.
While pipe dreaming about the latest in big appliances, homeowners can easily overlook the little flourishes that mean a lot.
The sink, for example, will be used almost constantly. Don't skimp on size -- make sure to choose one that can accommodate your larger pots. Even if you have a dishwasher (another top convenience) you'll need a place to cool, empty and rinse cookware. A small prep sink near your stove or primary workspace can be both impressive and useful.
A variety of modern faucets and soap dispensers allow you to wash your hands by merely waving them under a sensor, eliminating the need to press your raw-chicken-covered fingers against a handle or button that then also has to be cleaned to kill bacteria. Even the best meal is a disaster if your guests suffer the ravages of salmonella.