Beyond the basics, more innovative products are also flooding the market—from steam ovens that offer healthier cooking options—to built-in coffee systems that offer grinding, brewing, and frothing capabilities—to computerized wall ovens that store recipes. “Once you’ve cooked a prime rib and it cooks perfectly,” explains Lundgren, “you save that in your Favorites file, and next time you’re cooking a prime rib, the oven remembers how to cook it. If you’ve consistently cooked a few dishes and really fine-tune them, you don’t have to watch your timer as much the next time. You just set it to cook the same way.”
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of a renovation, says Leuschen, is the lighting. It’s “one of the most important design elements that people think of later in the process and should really be thought of first,” she says. That’s where Doug Brekke, of Black Box Design in Bozeman, comes in. A designer and installer of lighting systems made by LiteTouch, Brekke specializes in controlled lighting, a computerized system that stores and reproduces presets to keep the lighting in a room at its optimum level. “The traditional way to control lights is with in-wall box dimmers where you vary the brightness of the light by raising and lowering it,” says Brekke. “But kitchens generally have different lighting loads,” used for general, task, accent, and decorative lighting purposes, “so there are four, five, six, or seven loads, which means that there are that many dimmers.” Lighting control systems replace all that hassle with a single button, allowing the homeowner to “record and reproduce” optimum lighting levels at any time.