SURFACES. Easy-to-clean surfaces are especially crucial for serious cooks. For example, stainless-steel sinks take a beating, resist stains and stand up to abrasive cleansers. Countertops. A kitchen should be as clean as an operating room: Think surfaces you can scrub. For example, stainless-steel sinks and countertops take a beating, don't stain and can be wiped down with cleanser. The same is true of solid surfacing. The downside of both is expense. In fact, there isn't one perfect countertop surface. The best solution is to use a mix. For instance, ceramic tile is a great heatproof surface around the range, but you don't have to tile all your counters. You can even drop a square of tile into a laminate countertop. Your choices will depend on how and what you cook. Butcher block is ideal for kneading dough; marble is right if you make a lot of confections. Floors. "The ideal kitchen floor is nonslip, even when wet, and effortless to maintain," Weimer says. The cooks we polled chose wood strip flooring. It's attractive, easy on your feet and can be refinished. You can also opt for wood or plastic laminate, which is easier to install as a replacement floor because it's thinner. Vinyl is a very practical choice; if possible, use 12-ft. widths so there are few, if any, dirt-catching seams on the floor. If you really like to cook, you don't always follow the recipe - you use it as a guideline. But when it comes to the layout, materials and appliances for your kitchen, use these tips from culinary pros to create your own functional cook's kitchen.
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