More than any other room in the house, the kitchen should be a reflection of our personal preferences—not just of the way we cook but also of the way we live. For some, it's the hub for the family. For others, it's all about no-fuss efficiency. Either way, chances are that the kitchen you have, with its awkward layout, tired appliances, and outdated style, isn't the one you dream about. Remodeling offers a chance to finally right those wrongs and get the kitchen that's truly meant for you.

But with so many options out there, how do you sort through all the choices? Turns out it's not as hard as you might think. After talking with architects, designers, and kitchen and bath pros, we've boiled down most people's dream kitchens into four basic types: the 30-Minute Kitchen, for those who are short on time but insist on eating well; the Family-Friendly Kitchen, for young cooks as well as grownups; the Host Kitchen, for ­people who love to cook for a crowd; and the Two-Cook Kitchen, for couples with a culinary bent. For each type, we offer a selection of the appliances, cabinets, counter materials, and other tools that best serve its needs and cooking style. "The kitchen has to be a pleasant space as well as productive, and that's why it's so important to align the design with the people who are going to use it," says Sara Ann Busby, veteran designer and president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. You might see yourself in one of these setups, or pluck ingredients from several. Either way, we've got the recipe for your ideal kitchen.
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