When buying or renovating a home, the design of your kitchen is probably the most important one to consider. Once upon a time, kitchens were relegated to the back of the house. They were the small, utilitarian spaces that served to produce food for the family. Before fire alarms and modern innovations in fireproofing, it made sense to isolate the kitchen from the rest of the house.

The kitchen was meant for mom, grandma, or in more affluent families, hired kitchen hands. It was a place to don aprons and peel potatoes. Kitchens often had poor lighting, an inadequate number of electrical sockets and virtually no storage. They were too hot in summer and uncomfortable in general.

In the last few decades, the entire family has migrated to the kitchen. Modern kitchens have become the heart of the home. With the shift to double income families, meal-time has become a shared responsibility. The kitchen has become a place where families both cook and eat together.

Today, kitchens are often combined with the dining area to create the hub of the home. Range hoods have allowed kitchens to be centrally located. It is the space wherein children can do their homework, where guests congregate, where families might watch television (including cooking shows), and where people often use their laptops or tablets. Of course, kitchens are most importantly a place where the finest meals can be prepared, but also in which take-out can be enjoyed.

The ideal kitchen has cleverly designed storage space, proper ventilation, and a good mix of natural and artificial lighting. Even the most basic appliances can make cooking and storing food much simpler than in years gone by. For the gourmet, every conceivable gadget is available to help turn a basic meal into a culinary masterpiece. For the novice, there is the microwave.

Regardless of your level of cooking expertise, when planning a kitchen, it is important to think beyond meal time. For instance, should your kitchen have a computer workstation? Comfortable seating? A butler’s pantry? For me, I would love a coffee bar and a wine fridge.