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kitchen_remodel(MCT)—When Michelle and Jon Christy bought their 1980s-era home in North Tustin, Calif., much of the residence already was remodeled.

Except for the kitchen. It was dated. And it was olive green.

“I wanted to lighten up the kitchen, because the kitchen had been dark,” Michelle Christy said. “I thought white cabinets would give it a nice, clean, crisp look.”

They didn’t stop there. Today, with a demolition behind them, and new Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances along with a spacious island, the couple’s kitchen is not just brighter; it also reflects several current trends in culinary design.

Nearly half of new homeowners undertaking a home improvement project within three months of buying a residence set their sights on a kitchen overhaul, according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors.

The array of choices for big-ticket appliances to even a simple backsplash can be daunting. But people should consider what will appeal to a broad range of future homebuyers. Even a minor remodel can recoup most of the cost when the owners resell, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2013 Cost vs. Value report.

“You may have a hard time selling your house if it (the kitchen) is really ‘out there,’” said Debbie Nassetta, co-owner of Roomscapes, a home design firm in Newport Beach, Calif.

So what’s trendy, but at the same time, has some staying power?

Consider a survey released by Houzz, a popular home design and remodeling website based in Palo Alto, Calif. The site’s Fall Kitchen Trends study gathered responses from 7,812 homeowners either planning renovations or in the midst of them. Earlier this year, the National Kitchen & Bath Association came out with survey results from 300 of its member-designers.

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