Updating your kitchen? Designer Mick De Giulio — who designed his first kitchen when he was 19 and has 3,000 projects under his belt gives us a list of what he thinks are the essentials:

Natural Light

Look for ways to maximize light, from getting rid of cabinets next to windows to using transparent or reflective materials like glass and stainless steel. No matter how small your kitchen might be, the usage of natural lighting and light colored materials makes your kitchen seem much more spacious.

Comfort

I like to incorporate soft seating, a TV, and — when I can — a fireplace, to make the kitchen the coziest place in the house.

Visual Texture

It’s the mix of woods, counter top materials, and finishes that creates warmth, personality, and mood.

Stainless Steel

It looks great with everything and will never go out of style. I love its organic quality — it also develops a well-worn shine over time.

An Island

If space allows, an island is essential. It’s the center piece of the kitchen.

A Great Sink

Accessories such as an integrated colander and a sliding cutting board make working there more efficient.

High-Performance Appliances

Today, high-efficiency burners and ovens with convection and self-cleaning are really indispensable.

A Hook

Every great kitchen has a hook, and it is that one unique element that just pulls you in. It could be a hood, a sink, a pot rack, or the island. Many times, that hook can be a color pop added to your kitchen (i.e. having a different colored bases cabinets vs. wall cabinets).

A Kitchen Designer

Kitchen design is complicated, and the cabinet scene is constantly changing. Hiring a professional is perhaps the most valuable investment you will make.