My favorite things...
1) Natural light – maximize light – eliminate wall cabinets next to windows – incorporate transparent or reflective materials like glass and stainless steel into your kitchen design
2) Comfort – soft seating, a tv, a fireplace – these all work to make your kitchen the coziest place in the house
3) Visual texture – mix woods, countertop materials (stone, glass, recycled paper), and finishes (copper, polished nickel, crystal) to create warmth, personality and mood
4) Stainless steel – the consummate neutral - it looks good with everything – it's never out of style – it is organic and developes a patina over the course of time
5) Island – if your space allows, this is essential – the island will quickly become the social center of your kitchen
6) Great sink - farm sink, trough sink or even a stone sink - add an intergrated colander or sliding cutting board to increase efficiency
7) Integrated/built-in refrigerator – these allow for tremendous design freedom when they are "dressed up" with cabinet door panels – the kitchen instantly becomes more room-like when that boxy fridge is eliminated
8) High performance appliances – high efficiency burners and ovens with convection and self cleaning features are indispensible, as are steam ovens, built in coffeemakers and microwave drawers
9) Hooks – over a sink (pendant light) or over an island (pot rack) – you only need one cool thing hanging from that hook to draw you into the kitchen
10) Interior or Kitchen designer – kitchen design is complicated and constantly evolving – hiring a pro is the most valuable investment you will make!