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Ultimately, your kitchen will reflect how you live. Because there are no hard-fast rules on where the budget must be spent in the
kitchen, how you splurge and save your money will depend on what's most important to you.

The gourmet cook can justify an inflated budget for appliances and the splurge on a professional range. The entertainer sees a warming drawer and wine cooler as nesessities. The busy family needs storage, storage and more storage in those cabinets. Then there's the question of resale: How important is it for you to get a nice return on investment for your project? Or, are you designing a kitchen for the home you plan to live in forever?

A showpiece countertop could dictate the design in a kitchen, you may base decisions about cabinetry, color scheme and furniture like stools on the surface you choose.

Cabinets form the backbone of the kitchen. Configure the cabinetry to make the most use of your kitchen's size and floor plan. Base cabinets get the most attention, whereas hanging wall cabinets are sacrificed for aesthetic features-windows, dramatic backsplashes-to create atmosphere and a living room appeal in the kitchen. Base cabinets are moving away from doors and toward drawers. Drawers make storage more accessible for more people.

Wall cabinets today extend to the ceiling, making use of high up space for storing infrequently used specialty serving ware and cookware. Or, wall cabinets are blown to full length proportions, stretching from floor to ceiling to create an accent wall that can house everything from cookbooks to appliances.