BUILDER's Buzziest Kitchens and Baths

The details stand out: elegant columns provide a bit of definition without closing anything off, a bookshelf holds treasured cookbooks, and several doors open to the patio for easy indoor/outdoor entertaining.

A tavern-like bar table lends an appealing contemporary vibe to the kitchen of this award-winning home from Visbeen Architects.

It’s hard to imagine a layout more open than this one, with the kitchen flowing without interruption into the dining room, the breakfast nook, and even the more-formal living space.

This modern standout uses space very, very wisely with a wall that opens wide to the outdoor living spaces.

This appealing rustic design is actually quite modern in spirit, with a kitchen that prioritizes counter space and openness to other rooms.

This elegant modern design strikes the right balance between sociability (the seated snack bar) and privacy (the great room isn’t within eyesight).

Instead of a formal dining room and separate breakfast nook, this layout merges the two into an open eating area that sits between the great room and the island kitchen.

The mesquite flooring in this Texas home and Watermark Awards merit winner captures a pure, site-specific essence

Bellawood says its Ultra-Strand product is crafted from fine bamboo fibers pressed together with a resin, which is why you won’t see the knuckling common to many bamboo products.

This open kitchen answers a fundamental question: How do you elegantly integrate the kitchen into the living space and hide the kitchen chaos?

The cooktop, at right, faces the dining area, but it's concealed by a freestanding wall. The wall, faced in blue steel, is both hard-working and handsome and become sa sculptural element.

The fridge, just around the corner from the work area, lightens up the cook's space and integrates a service area into the entertaining space.

Architect Neal Schwartz admits that he sometimes has trouble convincing clients to go for the less-than conventional move of setting of the fridge around the corner. Adequate landing space right next to the refrigerator helps it all make sense.

The kitchen and living space look out onto the back deck and the surrounding landscape.

The GE Profile Series 36" electric induction cooktop has five burners and the company's most powerful cooking element.

The 36 inch Masterpiece Series Freedom induction cooktop from Thermador uses 48 3-inch coils to provide more usable cooking space.

One possible configuration of Thermador's Freedom refrigeration units, incorporating a wine column, full freezer, and refrigerator/freezer combo.

Bright Nook A 65-square-foot addition replaces a sliding glass door. The banquette, topped by two skylights, offers a light-fififilled nook featuring additional storage.

These modular panels have tongue-and-groove interlocking joints that click into place to create a seamless-looking and watertight finish, the maker, Sterling, says.

Linear Thinking The traditional luxury five-piece bath is the standard move-up option, but many of us no longer have space for that arrangement. Cutting back on square footage and lowering the price point present real and constant challenges.

Kitchens continue to be a hub and homeowners want open areas with strong ties to adjoining rooms, but smart compact layouts are replacing copious square footage.

Views of the outdoors in unexpected places like the shower or above the tub and brings added natural light and a feeling of space to these petite baths.

Water conservation is key. The project of the year is all about water—the bathroom is the hub of the house and is used to highlight water use.

“Judicious lighting placement completes a nicely composed space without distracting from the architecture,” noted the 2014 Watermark jury.

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