Betty from Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy sent me a link to an article about a couple whose kosher kitchen renovation cost about $100,000. While the reno cost is enough to make me stagger it was actually a pretty good article and has inspired me to talk even more about my own kitchen than I've been doing recently (really, quite a lot).
First of all, it's very nice to have 2 dishwashers, 2 sinks, 2 wall ovens, a warming drawer, Sub Zero fridge, etc. etc. ad infinitum but it's not necessary in order to keep kosher. You don't even need a very big kitchen, although it's nice to actually have counter space (something I usually don't have enough of).
What do I consider essential? Now that they're readily available and not overly expensive, I wouldn't want to have to do without a stove with both Sabbath mode and a self clean oven. I have 2 identical stoves. One is in my rural home. The other one is here. So, obviously, I can't designate one for dairy and one for meat. What do I do? The 2 left hand burners are meat and the 2 right hand ones are dairy. The oven is dairy and I have a convection oven that's about 15 or 20 years old and the size of a big old microwave oven that I use for meat. I also have a microwave that's dairy (mostly used for popping microwave popcorn and baking potatoes).
Most of the sinks I've had over the past 20 years have been double sinks but the critical aspect has been that they're stainless steel and can therefore be kashered (unlike porcelain or enamel). I don't wash the dishes in them directly anyway. I have plastic dishpans that fit inside (a blue one for dairy and a green one for meat) and the dishracks sit on opposite sides of the sink, although the dairy one is the only one that stays out pretty well all the time.
I probably couldn't manage without my dairy toaster oven. It's extra large, big enough for 6 slices of bread at once. Toast is a lunchtime favorite around here with the little girls and it's great to be able to do everybody's at once. I can also fit in 2 or 3 pita pizzas or make a big tray of fries. And I use my meat crock pot pretty well every Shabbos.
You don't need a warming drawer to keep food hot on Shabbos. I have a Salton hot tray that works like a charm. It's about the size of a cookie sheet, keeps 2 different constant heats all the time and the hot spot on it keeps soup really hot. I bought a big Israeli style plata (the same idea only all metal surface and only one temperature) for Passover this year but it's too big for the counter. I didn't use it and I'm thinking about trying to take it back.
Two dishwashers would be quite the luxury but right now I'd happily settle for one (which I'd use for dairy because that's what we generally eat 6 days a week). Besides, my meat dishes have gold or platinum trim and that sort of thing gets worn off in a dishwasher over time.
I didn't spend $10k on a Sub Zero fridge with Sabbath mode. I just unscrew the light bulbs so they don't come on when you open the fridge on Shabbos! Some people are very careful to only open the fridge on Shabbos if the motor is already running (so they don't risk making it come on) but I'm just quick with the in and out. I don't leave the door open for long enough that it comes on. And look, I saved $9,000 over the Sub Zero model!
I wouldn't mind a little apartment size deep freeze but it's not necessary by any means. When I had one years ago it was often half empty or full of bread! In my current kitchen I'd like to rip all the cabinets out and replace them with IKEA ones. I like solid surface countertops or ones made out of granite or soapstone but I'd take Formica. I have my eye on a stainless farm style sink and a nice gooseneck faucet. Speaking of water, you couldn't pay me to have one of those pot-fillers by the stove since I won't cook with tap water. I like white subway tile for a backsplash and I love islands and breakfast bars (although they're not even possible in my current kitchen). And I'd like to put in a microwave/range hood combination because it's a great space saver.