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A high-tech kitchen can be a valuable improvement

iStock image used with permission.

iStock image used with permission.

Property experts agree – the room for owners to upgrade when renovating that provides one of the highest returns on investment is the kitchen, and “smart technology” is the top trend when updating the traditional center of the home.

According to Remodeling.hw.net, that return in 2015 can be nearly 70 percent. This is due in part to technological advances in everything from countertops to energy-efficient appliances, as well as the evolving nature of the room itself.

“Integrating technology throughout the home has been popular for decades; today the emphasis is on the kitchen,” said Sarah Fishburne, director of Trend and Design at The Home Depot. “Homeowners want new ways to save energy, save time and increase the value to their homes, and the right kitchen remodel tackles all three.”

Unlike other rooms, which can receive new life by way of nothing more than a coat of paint, kitchen design requires more thought, as product innovations make their way to market. Here are a few of the trends identified by The Home Depot, the American Institute of Architects and the National Association of Home Builders at the 2015 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show:

Countertops and faucets

Today’s kitchen counters are nothing like the surfaces of the past. Dekton, a countertop made from glass, porcelain and quartz, integrates science as well as aesthetic; others can even contribute to health and well-being. The same applies to sinks and faucets, which are not only easier to care for than ever, but reduce water waste through innovative updates like touch-less plumbing from brands like Delta, which allows for the flow of water to begin and end with a simple tap of the spigot. Look for antimicrobial protection, which will help eliminate stains and microbial growth, spot shielding and stain resistance when evaluating counter and faucet upgrades. Countertops can also be super high-tech, and can charge multiple mobile devices – no more cords in the kitchen.

Lighting and temperature

LED light bulbs are nothing new, but they make a serious difference to energy consumption (and, as such, electricity bills). By substituting LED for incandescent bulbs, reduce energy use by 84 percent, and enjoy the light for 25 times longer. Another innovation is in light sensors – no need to flip the switch on and off, as lights will only activate when you are present in the kitchen. Alternatively, control both lighting and the thermostat by tapping a smartphone.


Door-in-door refrigerators are not only the most popular fridges today, design-wise, but also the most efficient. By not opening the refrigerator door completely, reduce cold air use by up to 47 percent. Notice the savings on the electrical bill, and also in the freshness and longevity of refrigerated food. When it comes to actually cooking, ovens have gone smart as well. A self-cleaning oven can take as little as 20 minutes, and by integrating infrared convection heating, skip the pre-heating step entirely and go straight to broiling temperatures, thus reducing cooking times by 20 percent.

Paint and pantries

Improvements to paint technology have resulted in a plethora of new options for DIY kitchen converters. Today, with paints like Behr Marquee, there is no need to prime, and surfaces will be stain resistant and scrubbable. Cabinet finishes have also evolved; they are more sustainable than in years past, and easier to care for.

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