If your home is your castle, then the kitchen is the Great Hall — the central meeting place, the mainstay of the manor house. It is the heart of the home, radiating the character of the homeowner.
That's why, in an increasingly pricey, picky and competitive housing market, it's where homebuilders are turning up the heat.
"Kitchens are the focal point of the home. Again and again our buyers tell us, if you get one room right, get our kitchen right," said Richard Dugas, CEO of Pulte Group.
So in a warehouse outside Atlanta, Pulte is running focus groups through kitchen models. The models were designed by potential suppliers, like Whirlpool, Electrolux, Moen and Kohler, in something of a "kitchen throw-down." Rather than plowing through samples of countertops and flooring, Pulte asked its suppliers to construct model kitchens for different types of buyers, considering life stage and personality.