Kitchen Ideas Medium Brown Cabinets

Krengel, who owns Kitchens by Krengel in St. Paul, travels 260 days a year, giving lectures and seminars on design.

One of the new trends in kitchens, he says, is creating a "lifestyle triangle" by opening the kitchen to the breakfast room and family room.

Here are some of Krengel's ideas on building a good kitchen:

- Cabinets. Choose a square, raised-panel door.

"It is probably the best investment you can make in the kitchen," he says. "It can be used in contemporary or traditional styles."

- Flooring. "I love solid vinyl tiles. You can make any pattern you like out of them, and the cost is not prohibitive."

If you choose a hardwood floor, he says, make sure it is stained and sealed in place to protect the wood from water and crumbs.

"Don't get hardwoods if you can't stand a few scratches."

Sheet vinyl remains the most common kitchen flooring. Krengel recommends choosing a simple pattern with a little color to help hide dirt.

- Countertops. Solid-surface countertops are a strong trend, but buyers shouldn't ignore decorative laminates, which cost only one-quarter as much. "Modern laminates offer beauty and excellent value. You can do an inlaid edge or a wood nosing to get a finished look."

- Faucets. "Honestly, the problem with faucets is that there are too many choices. It's hard to believe that faucets have gone from the $39.95 model everyone used 10 years ago to $495 today." Krengel recommends a chrome finish because it is easy to maintain.

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