15 Must-Have Elements for a Dream Kitchen

A dream kitchen — it is probably at the top of any homeowner’s list of desires. Whether you are going to start from scratch and design a new kitchen or if you just want to renovate your existing kitchen, you can create the space you’ve always wanted.

Dream Kitchen
Contemporary kitchens , like this one from Marchi, incorporate lots of elements and maintain a comfortable style.

And, while styles vary from person to person, there are a number of elements that are common to all dream kitchens.

Before you invest a large sum of money in a kitchen renovation, be clear why you are doing it: Is it to create your dream kitchen or is it for resale reasons? Some of the things that are important to you in the kitchen might not be at the top of the list when it comes to recouping your renovation investment. If you’ve determined that it’s time to create the kitchen of your dreams, check out all these different things to consider in the planning. You can’t include them all, but there are plenty of kitchen trends here that can be incorporated in the final plans.

Discover the most popular kitchen elements

A Cool Design

Traditional, modern, contemporary or eclectic, it doesn’t matter — a cool, functional design is key to any enviable kitchen. Your budget is the only limit when it comes to your dream kitchen design, but the layout and how the elements come together is critical, no matter what amount of money you are spending.

Traditional looks like this French provincial style can still incorporate the latest kitchen technologies and conveniences.View in gallery
Traditional looks like this French provincial style can still incorporate the latest kitchen technologies and conveniences.
Contemporary kitchens , like this one from Marchi, incorporate lots of elements and maintain a comfortable style.View in gallery
Contemporary kitchens , like this one from Marchi, incorporate lots of elements and maintain a comfortable style.
This luxe retro island with appliances is paired with modern glass-fronted storage.View in gallery
This luxe retro island with appliances is paired with modern glass-fronted storage.
Minimal open storage and a mostly hidden kitchen make this design from Martini especially dramatic.View in gallery
Minimal open storage and a mostly hidden kitchen make this design from Martini especially dramatic.

The Latest Cooktop Technology

Gas or induction, there are many new styles and technologies available for your cooktop. These examples are all installed in an island, but you can also have it on a counter with a backsplash. Induction options now include features like invisible burners, removable knobs and new surface materials. Gas cooktops have new burner designs and custom features.

Aran's induction cooktop has designated burner areas that are sleek and modern.View in gallery
Aran’s induction cooktop has designated burner areas that are sleek and modern.
Gatto has an induction cooktop that has a perfectly smooth surface and no knobs.View in gallery
Gatto has an induction cooktop that has a perfectly smooth surface and no knobs.
Binova has another version of the invisible cooktop that looks like a marble island.View in gallery
Binova has another version of the invisible cooktop that looks like a marble island.
The Smeg gas cooktop has LED lights and customizable burner rings with whimsical shapes.View in gallery
The Smeg gas cooktop has LED lights and customizable burner rings with whimsical shapes.

Hidden kitchen elements

In a departure from the popular chef’s kitchens with hanging pot racks, walls of appliances and imposing ranges, the “hidden kitchen” is trending. These designs have every convenience you might want, but everything is secreted behind sleek cabinetry with a minimum of hardware or visible appliance units. Manufacturers are also creating the latest appliances with handle-less technology or sleek styles that help keep the look minimal.

Aran has this unit where lovely wood cabinetry hides many of the appliances and has unique vertical hardware.View in gallery
Aran has this unit where lovely wood cabinetry hides many of the appliances and has unique vertical hardware.
Even gas cooktops can be part of a hidden kitchen when a sliding cover is included. This is by Ernestomeda.View in gallery
Even gas cooktops can be part of a hidden kitchen when a sliding cover is included. This is by Ernestomeda.
Laboratorio Mattoni has a remote control sliding top that conceals all the components of the island.View in gallery
Laboratorio Mattoni has a remote control sliding top that conceals all the components of the island.

Cool Storage

No space can be a dream kitchen without ample and functional storage space. What that storage looks like is up to you. It can be sleek and modern cupboards, glass-fronted cabinets, open shelving or a combination of many types of storage. The exact configuration will be determined by the size of your kitchen, its layout and your specific needs.

Laboratorio Mattoni has a remote control sliding top that conceals all the components of the island.View in gallery
Laboratorio Mattoni has a remote control sliding top that conceals all the components of the island.
This modular version includes hanging racks for stemware, shelving and cubby holes.View in gallery
This modular version includes hanging racks for stemware, shelving and cubby holes.
A more casual style in this Stosa kitchen includes cupboards, appliances, open shelving and a chalkboard.View in gallery
A more casual style in this Stosa kitchen includes cupboards, appliances, open shelving and a chalkboard.
Lighted drawers are a must have in new kitchens. This design is from Arrex.View in gallery
Lighted drawers are a must have in new kitchens. This design is from Arrex.
Compartmentalized and lighted drawers make organization a breeze.View in gallery
Compartmentalized and lighted drawers make organization a breeze.

Highly Functional Work Space

As in any kitchen, every square inch of space has a purpose. Increasingly, space in the kitchen has to serve multiple purposes: Areas that can be used to serve serve guests, versatile work space, and well-arranged tools and cooking elements. Large or small, a well designed work space makes cooking a breeze.

Arclinea's counter with cooktop and sink has lots of functional extras.View in gallery
Arclinea’s counter with cooktop and sink has lots of functional extras.

Custom Sink

Every kitchen has to have a sink, but for a dream kitchen it will be customized in design, size and faucet hardware. When designing a sink space, it’s important to consider whether you want one or two sinks and faucets, how and where you want the faucets placed, and what materials you would like to incorporate.

Arrex shows a large single sink with two high neck faucets.View in gallery
Arrex shows a large single sink with two high neck faucets.
Stenninger has a sleek version where the knobs and tap are below the counter surface, and includes a sliding wood panel.View in gallery
Stenninger has a sleek version where the knobs and tap are below the counter surface, and includes a sliding wood panel.
Leicht's multi-compartment sink includes a long, wall-mounted faucet with old-fashioned knobs.View in gallery
Leicht’s multi-compartment sink includes a long, wall-mounted faucet with old-fashioned knobs.
A farmhouse sink with an angled front from Arrex is paired with a rose gold faucet.View in gallery
A farmhouse sink with an angled front from Arrex is paired with a rose gold faucet.
A double sink can have a faucet installed in the center divider. This one is by Valdesign.View in gallery
A double sink can have a faucet installed in the center divider. This one is by Valdesign.
Scavolini's single compartment sink has a unique corner-mounted faucet.View in gallery
Scavolini’s single compartment sink has a unique corner-mounted faucet.

Versatile Dining/Workspace

Everyone loves to gather in the kitchen, whether they are family or guests, so you need space that doubles as dining/serving space and workspace. Some homes might have the luxury of a size big enough for defined spaces, but for those who need to make the most of the space in their dream kitchens, there are many ways to incorporate versatile space.

A perpendicular counter extension is a great way to add dining space to the kitchen that also doubles as work space. This is by Biefbi.View in gallery
A perpendicular counter extension is a great way to add dining space to the kitchen that also doubles as work space. This is by Biefbi.
By extending an island, you can add versatile worktop real estate to your dream kitchen design, as in this one by Doimo.View in gallery
By extending an island, you can add versatile worktop real estate to your dream kitchen design, as in this one by Doimo.
Spagnol's raised counter bar design is useful as serving, dining and staging space.View in gallery
Spagnol’s raised counter bar design is useful as serving, dining and staging space.

A Distinctive Backsplash

The basic purpose of a backsplash is to provide an easy-to-clean surface behind areas that are prone to splatters and splashes. In a dream kitchen, you can take the backsplash to a whole other level by indulging special lighting, modular storage or unique materials

Creo's illuminated backsplash adds more than just lighting -- it adds plenty of drama.View in gallery
Creo’s illuminated backsplash adds more than just lighting — it adds plenty of drama.
Customized, modular backsplash pieces increase storage options.View in gallery
Customized, modular backsplash pieces increase storage options.

Dramatic Lighting

Even if you can’t afford to have every luxe detail in your dream kitchen, choosing dramatic lighting can make a budget design look spectacular. Much like a gorgeous gem, a statement lighting fixture draws the eye and adds pizzazz.

Doimo's off-center placement of the airy ball lights over the counter adds a dramatic punch.View in gallery
Doimo’s off-center placement of the airy ball lights over the counter adds a dramatic punch.
Alno demonstrates how an oversized and understated pendant can dominate a kitchen.View in gallery
Alno demonstrates how an oversized and understated pendant can dominate a kitchen.
A pair of gilded modern pendants adds a little bling to Alno's otherwise industrial design.View in gallery
A pair of gilded modern pendants adds a little bling to Alno’s otherwise industrial design.

Innovative Kitchen Appliances

Chilled food storage has gone from an individual refrigerator and freezer to a choreographed “food” preservation system. Most dream kitchens also include specialized kitchen appliances that cater to your cooking whims, including specialty grills, steam ovens, custom wine storage and meat smokers.

Thermador's kitchen system is sleek and cutting edge.View in gallery
Thermador’s kitchen system is sleek and cutting edge.
Miele's sophisticated wine tower includes serving space.View in gallery
Miele’s sophisticated wine tower includes serving space.
Teppanyaki is a fun and entertaining way to cook and Viking lets you do it at home.View in gallery
Teppanyaki is a fun and entertaining way to cook and Viking lets you do it at home.
Carnivores will love Team 7's dry ager for making meat taste best.View in gallery
Carnivores will love Team 7′s dry ager for making meat taste best.
Those who prefer a traditional gas range can have innovative finishes like Viking's carbon fiber model.View in gallery
Those who prefer a traditional gas range can have innovative finishes like Viking’s carbon fiber model.

State-of-the-Art Ventilation

If you cook you need ventilation, but it no longer needs to be a massive, traditional hood.  The latest styles include low-profile versions, models that include lighting and some that retract into the ceiling.

Nobilia has large hoods that include plentiful lighting.View in gallery
Nobilia has large hoods that include plentiful lighting.
Nobilia's industrial model is a statement-making hood.View in gallery
Nobilia’s industrial model is a statement-making hood.
Rangecraft lets you add some bling to your kitchen with platinum and Swarovski crystals.View in gallery
Rangecraft lets you add some bling to your kitchen with platinum and Swarovski crystals.
Low profile hood options from Zephyr.View in gallery
Low profile hood options from Zephyr.
Winged whimsy for your hood from Rangecraft.View in gallery
Winged whimsy for your hood from Rangecraft.

Distinctive hardware

Many people don’t give much thought to the knobs and hardware on their cabinets, but much like jewelry or embellishment for a designer outfit, hardware is the finishing touch for your dream kitchen. Even just swapping out knobs can totally change the look of your space.

Plenty of hardware options are available like these from Waterworks.View in gallery
Plenty of hardware options are available like these from Waterworks.

Dream and dream big. Figure out what you want in your kitchen, prioritize those items, and then apply your budget to the list. See what you can afford and what you can do to bring your kitchen closer to your dream. Of course, few people can afford to have everything, but if you plan well and include the elements that are most important to you, you can make you dream kitchen come true.

Add Color

White kitchens will probably always have a following, but most designers – and home owners – have had enough of the all-white palette and are ready for a richer look. Kitchens with color have more personality and can present a level of casual sophistication that the all-white or neutral palette does not. Moreover, if the color is used on an element like the cabinetry, it’s quite easy to change the look with paint. So, shades of green might be trending this year, but when the wind shifts and some other hue becomes popular, the updates can be affordable and easy.

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This kitchen may have rustic flair but it is still oh so sophisticated! The muted forest green cabinetry has a matte finish that creates dramatic elegance when combined with the rustic wood ceiling and floor and the marble countertop and backsplash. It’s an absolutely perfect palette of materials for quiet, casual luxury.

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Modern kitchens also benefit from some dramatic color, such as one that incorporates a colorful backsplash. This is also a lower cost refresh for a kitchen that is overwhelmingly neutral. Here the glossy glass surface contrasts nicely with the sleek but not-so-shiny cabinets.

Organization Made Easy

Aside from a great layout and top-notch major appliances, the next most important factor in the kitchen is storage. Without the right kind of storage, it’s hard to keep a kitchen uncluttered and clean. Building in utility wherever possible helps make staying organized easier, so plan carefully when designing your dream kitchen, or upgrading your current cabinetry. Specialty inserts and a well organized pantry space make all the difference in the world.

 

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Coffee aficionados will appreciate this amazing drawer with a custom insert for the capsules that match your preferred coffee-making appliance. This means no boxes, jars or piles littering the counter, plus, it’s easy to see at a glance which flavors might be running low. Even if you’re not fully remodeling the kitchen, upgrading a drawer for this kind of storage can be a great on-trend addition.

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Deep shelving in any pantry can be a challenge because cans and boxes of staples can get lost at the back. A great solution is installing pull-out drawers instead of plain shelving. This type of organization means that you can see everything at a glance and small items don’t get lost or fall to the back. There’s also no crawling on the floor to reach the back of the bottom shelf. Even better, it’s easy to sweep the floor when all the storage is raised up and attached to the wall.

Standout Island

The centerpiece of any kitchen is the island and in most cases, the bigger the better. If you don’t have room for a giant one, you can still have the kitchen of your dreams by creating one that has workspace, storage and maybe even an overhang to accommodate some bar stools. Today’s islands don’t have to be a built-in style or even match the rest of the cabinetry. In fact, the trend is for them to be a different. Browse around and see what type appeals to you and don’t feel limited by the materials used for the rest of the kitchen.

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Many of the trendiest islands resemble a large table that sits in the middle of the space like this one does. While it goes with the rest of the color scheme, it’s not a traditional built-in island and instead features legs and a shelf at the bottom. 

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This island is indeed a long table, repurposed and used as an island. The vintage appeal, spacious, weathered top and bottom shelf create a real centerpiece for the kitchen. An island of this type also adds a great deal of character to a kitchen and can be used with quite a few styles of cabinetry. It’s also a fabulous way to add some natural wood to a kitchen that has modern counters or painted cabinets.

Mixed Materials

Gone are the days when all kitchen work surfaces and the island sported the same countertop material, all the cabinets were the same and every piece of hardware matched every other piece of metal. The latest kitchen designs mix thing up to create a more interesting and less stilted look. Countertops might be quartz while the island is topped with concrete. Bottom cabinets can be painted a deep hue while the upper ones are white and the open shelving is natural. The sky is the limit when it comes to combining materials as long as they all come together in a pleasing, cohesive look.

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With cabinets painted green and some left with a natural finish, this country style kitchen is a marvelous example of how to mix materials. Not only are there two cabinetry finishes, but there are also two countertop materials and two different metal finishes: Brass and black. Together, all these different materials create a charming and relaxing kitchen that anyone would be happy with.

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Taking another look at one of our favorite coordinated kitchens, it also makes use of different materials. The main countertops are a white solid surface material while the island is topped with a darker one, closer in color to the cabinets. The open shelving introduces natural wood into the palette, which is also highlighted on some of the specialty cabinet doors at the bottom. Glass fronts add some variety to the top cabinets, which are finished with the same sophisticated, muted green.