MERIT—Best kitchen in a single-family detached custom home—3,000 to 5,000 square feet THERE ARE TIMES WHEN the best parts of a modern-day kitchen have little to do with food prep. That's certainly the case with The Aubrey, which boasts what just about any family wants in a kitchen: a large island that can accommodate stools and storage; a generous nook; and a management center with room for a computer, file drawers, and places to stash the mail.

“One of the things that families are looking for these days beyond having an open plan is having a management center area,” says Scott Thistle, president of Brookstone Homes. “Plus, families are so busy today that they're not always sitting down at the table to eat together. But we found that families are looking for both—a place to sit down around a table and a less formal area at an island.” The island, backed by a large adjoining nook, satisfies both requirements. And the management center? Well, it helps keep everyone organized in the room that's the center of just about every home.

Entrant/Builder: Brookstone Homes, Oconomowoc, Wis.; Interior designer: Model Home Interiors, Beltsville, Md.