Flashy kitchens seldom make economic sense

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Kitchen design has always been rife with faddish gimmicks. Remember the indoor barbecue? The disappearing mixer? The built-in blender? The retractable range top? If you're not old enough to recall those, how about all those wine racks, pot fillers and appliance garages seen in kitchens of the past 20 years? Or the dual dishwashers, six-burner ranges and colossal refrigerators that were considered so indispensable at the height of the "Great Big Ol' Housing Bubble"? Kitchen fads aren't limited to fancy equipment. Finishes also make the inevitable journey from chic to dreck. For instance, countertop fashions have successively cycled from ceramic tile during the interwar years to plastic laminate ("Formica") in the postwar era, then back to tile in the 1970s before moseying through various solid plastics such as Corian. In the '90s, countertop fads among the super-hip took a side trip to polished concrete, while mainstream kitchen design settled into toda...