Phoenix, Arizona (NAPSI) - Kitchens are cooking up some of today’s hottest decorating trends. That’s the word from experts who say families are using their kitchen as never before.

Gathering there to do homework, socialize, watch TV—even cook—they’re making the kitchen, in many cases, the busiest room in the house.

However, while kitchens may be busy, the decorating trends associated with that family focal point are anything but. Instead, those trends feature clean lines, sleek appliances and innovative storage solutions.

Said Janice Jones of national homebuilder Pulte Homes, “In the past, home design was driven by practicality, but now homeowners want function and design to meet. The kitchen is now a driving force in defining the decor of the home overall.”

Jones added that the company’s 700-plus new home communities across the country feature fully furnished model homes because the majority of homebuyers prefer to see the design ideas “in action.”

Pulte also allows homebuyers to design their dream kitchen with a click of a mouse with its new interactive Kitchen Studio. Images on allow users to visualize a custom kitchen space by selecting from a variety of colors and finishes—from flooring to wall color.

Here are some of the leading trends for 2013:

•Islands: New kitchen layouts and designs are open and island-centric. They call for multi-functional spaces that allow everything from homework to craft projects.

To keep the clutter off the island but near the kitchen, the innovativePultePlanningCenteris a multifunctional space used for bill paying, family organization, homework or as a computer room. Consumers also want multipurpose islands, so kitchens now have two islands.

• Color & Appliances: Two-tone colors and contrasting colors on cabinets, counters and appliances are an emerging trend in kitchen design. “This is the biggest visible news in the appliance world in years,” said Jones, adding that the new look was inspired by popular high-tech gadgets, such as smartphones.

• Storage: Megasize storage for bulk and food items is in demand. Other innovative storage solutions include larger deeper drawers in lieu of cabinets on the lower surfaces; pop-up cabinets for heavier kitchen appliances, such as mixers; vertical pull-out drawers for large trays; and shallow storage compartments in previously wasted areas under the sink or stovetop.

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