Do you or someone else in your household place great value on providing homecooked meals for the family on a regular basis but sometimes struggle with the limitations of working in the average home kitchen? If so, it's probably time to take your kitchen from average to fabulous. Following are four upgrades that really make a difference in the overall kitchen experience. 

Cork Flooring

You're probably already quite aware that carpeted flooring isn't a good idea in any kitchen, but you may also be tired of the way your feet ache from standing in the kitchen for extended periods of time while preparing fare for the family table. Although rubber mats are available that are designed to provide some cushioning for the feet, they require double maintenance because besides keeping them clean also requires cleaning the floor underneath them. Rubber mats also provide a slip-and-fall risk. Cork flooring, on the other hand, offers a level surface that is naturally spongy due to the wood containing millions of tiny air pockets. As an added benefit, glassware and other breakables found in the kitchen area are less likely to break if they fall on cork flooring rather than their denser counterparts. 

Walk-in Pantries 

A walk-in pantry is one of the best additions you can make to your home if you or another household occupant is a serious cook, especially if your home has recently been built — most standard new construction doesn't have the type of storage space frequently found in older homes. Having a walk-in pantry makes it easier to save costs at the supermarket by purchasing staples in bulk and helps make kitchens more pleasant places to work in by keeping them free of clutter. An open-shelf pantry also provides the added benefit of immediate visual access to all contents. 

Inline Hot Water Heaters

Many homeowners purposely keep their hot water heaters set on 120 degrees or less. This saves them a bit of money on utility bills as well as protects curious children from becoming burned by water that's too hot. However, these lower temperatures aren't ideal for cutting through grease and dealing with baked-on food. An inline hot water heater that runs to the sink and dishwasher is a kitchen upgrade that makes sense for households with serious cooks. 

Illuminated Countertops

Most home cooks have managed to cut themselves while slicing, dicing, or otherwise using a knife while preparing a meal, and shadowy lighting conditions are often the culprit. Although strong overhead lighting is recommended above frequently used work areas in the kitchen, this type of lighting can still cast shadows. Illuminated countertops, on the other hand, provide lighting at the level that the slicing, dicing, and cutting are being performed. LED light panels can be placed at countertop level along the walls behind the counter.