In kitchens with one primary chef, a U-shaped kitchen that keeps stovetop and sink in close proximity is often best. Over-scaled kitchens can make work in the kitchen more difficult. For kitchens with multiple cooks, create work centers dedicated to specific tasks: Dedicated prep stations, baking centers, cleanup, and cooking areas ease sharing.
Arrange appliances so foot traffic does not interfere with the cook's work. Keep the refrigerator accessible to kids while steering them clear of the "hot zone."
The naturally porous surface of stone needs to be regularly sealed to repel water-and oil-based stains. Soapstone is soft and most prone to chipping. Professionals can often polish small scratches and chips from your countertop. Cleaning and polishing can also restore the shine back to stone which has become dull and hazy. If a solid stone surface cracks, the entire countertop will need to be replaced.
Professional kitchen designers can help you maximize your new kitchen's functionality. Design pros can help you select materials, create a floor plan, and assist with managing the construction process.
Keep on budget by using luxury material sparingly. Reserve the island for an expensive granite countertop, for example, while using more affordable materials elsewhere. Don't overlook butcher block and stainless steel.