Buyers pay top dollar for lavish kitchens
House hunters in the luxury market are seeking fancy spaces in which to cook, eat and congregate.
You need do no more research than watch a rerun of reality TV show "The Osbournes" to confirm that kitchens are the epicenter of American family life. We use them to cook, eat, congregate and mingle. So it's no wonder that homebuyers fork over top dollar to create lavish spaces for dishing out food.
Forbes has compiled a list of U.S. homes for sale with dream kitchens that a professional chef would salivate over. Our friends at Realtor.com, Trulia.com, Sotheby's International Realty and Coldwell Banker Previews International nominated dozens of luxury homes for the list. All contenders offered delectable cooking spaces, but those selected from among homes ranging in price from $2 million to $68 million stood out for unique amenities or jaw-dropping layouts.
The one thing all of these kitchens have in common is high-tech luxury appliances: Sub-Zero refrigerators; top-of-the-line ovens with six-burner ranges by Viking or Dynasty, to name a few; multiple dishwashers, usually by Miele. Many decadent kitchens also boast built-in java machines, wine coolers and butler pantries.
Kitchens are one of the most popular upgrades to existing homes. That's not surprising, since the rooms get so much use and can start to show their age, says Elizabeth Mendenhall, vice president of the National Association of Realtors.
"It's an easy way to bring your house up-to-date to compete with some of the newer homes on the market," she says.
Coldwell Banker Previews International, a luxury real-estate brokerage selling residences priced at $2 million and up, just started a monthly e-zine for clients called Luxury From the Inside Out. The February edition focuses primarily on the kitchen, highlighting Coldwell's own "Dream Kitchen" listings and sharing celebrity chef Todd English's tips for hosting at-home dinner parties around what he calls this "social gathering place."
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English suggests incorporating high-top and counter seating, something he uses in his restaurants and personal kitchen. Many of the kitchens we included on our list have expansive stone- or steel-bedecked islands that double as food-preparation stations and eat-in countertop spaces.
- Forbes.com: See all 15 kitchens that made the cut
Poggenpohl, a 118-year-old German company renowned for pioneering luxury kitchen design, has experienced a marked uptick in remodeling projects stateside, thanks at least in part to the economic downturn.
"Kitchens have become the No.1 selling feature when a home is on the market," says Ted Chappell, president of Poggenpohl U.S. The company's U.S. business consists of 60% remodeling and 40% new construction.
Fancy appliances, elite design consultants and rare construction materials mean luxury kitchens cost anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. These rooms may conjure up delicious visions among would-be celebrity chefs, but that doesn't mean sellers will recoup what they spent. In fact, homeowners who spring for a major, upscale kitchen-remodeling project get back just 60% when they sell, according to the NAR's 2010-2011 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. For those on a budget, it may leave a nice aftertaste to know that less expensive kitchens in less expensive homes do better, returning 70% of the cost in a major remodeling and 73% in a minor one.