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Hot Appliances, Cool Kitchen Countertops

Similarly, induction cooktops are all the rage.

These cooktops, which use the technology of induction cooking to make metal pans their sole heating targets, are both quick and energy-efficient. And these days, as Johnston points out, green equals stylish.

"People are more and more looking to go energy efficient," Johnston says, and they aren't satisfied with just ensuring that the kitchen has handy locations for recyclables.

"People are really paying attention to energy efficiency ... from the budget -- say Whirlpool (WHR) -- appliances all the way to the higher-end German ones."

When it comes to floors and countertops, granite is losing its appeal, Johnston adds. A lot of countertops are solid-surface materials made from everything from resins to recycled glass and recycled stone.

"The good thing about many of these finishes is that they are more durable than many of the natural collections," she says. "They are more stain-resistant ... and shipping is more convenient because they are made locally."

Keeping It Professional

For the professional look, "people are asking for two wall ovens in addition to a cooktop and almost always a second vegetable sink," Johnson says. "People are also moving more and more into storing wines properly and in an accessible way."

To a lot of people, professional appliances mean foreign-made ones, such as those made by Gaggenau and Electrolux, Johnston adds. "There's some sort of sex appeal there."

One innovation that Johnson thinks isn't really catching on: refrigerators with an in-built high-definition television. "I can't say for sure, but more people think it's a gimmick," she says. "It takes up valuable storage."

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