The kitchen takes center stage in most modern homes-and not just at mealtimes. "It's kind of the heart of the house," said Amy Conley, a real estate agent with Real Living HER. "Whether you're a cook or not, it's where you live your life." Conley and other agents say that the most buyer-friendly kitchens are beautiful yet functional, and tend to share some universal design trends: an earth-toned color palette; stainless-steel appliances; granite countertops; artistic backsplashes; and large center islands for food prep and entertaining.

The Central Ohio Luxury Home Network's recent Luxe Home Tour showcased an elite collection of houses priced at $650,000 and above, including kitchens that are cooking up that wow factor. These are the highlights.