I spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking (and then obviously cleaning) -- these are some things from our kitchen renovation that I have noticed as really improving life/work in the kitchen -- things that you can really appreciate when you have to use them day in/day out:
(1) First, my favorite thing would have to be the Blanco silgranit sink -- it is huge, it is quiet and easy to wash very large cooking/baking dishes in. It is very utilitarian, easy to clean, and being black, blends in with the counters. You can put a ton of dishes in there and they are not visible. You could probably float a small boat in there.
(2) The new JennAir 5-burner gas cooktop -- now that I am getting used to this, I like it so much more than I thought I would. All the burners on my old cooktop seemed to be about the same ... not on this one! It has a dedicated high burner at 17,000 BTU's (and set off to the side) for boiling water fast and cooking quickly on high heat - like stir frying. It also has a dedicated low burner for simmering -- MUCH lower than our old one -- really like that burner (it is in the back). The other burners have varying degrees in between, and you can tell which ones are higher or lower because of the size of their burner covers. Also the grates are level and continuous, which makes it easy to move pots and pans quickly to another burner safely. It is a stainless base which is also easy to clean, especially with my new discovery of "method - steel for real wipes" -- these are GREAT and just one little wipe can wipe out fingerprints on all the stainless appliances in the entire kitchen -- a wonderful and amazing product that makes a big difference.
(3) Back to doing dishes, the new Kitchen Aid dishwasher -- quiet and has some great new features that I really appreciate -- 1 hour wash (if you don't want to wait for 3+ hours on the more water saving regular wash), High temp scrub, and Sani Rinse -- I love seeing the light at the end that says my dishes are sanitized! And the light showing that the dishes are Clean stays on for a long time afterward, even when you've opened the door. Silverware basket with separators, so no more clumping up -- gets the silverware really clean. Not glamorous, but very functional.
(4) New full-size Panasonic microwave oven -- they have really added some nice features that weren't (obviously) on our original microwave that we had for 26 years! I use the microwave every morning to help prepare breakfast and really like the "Quick Min" button that cooks on HIGH for however many minutes based on the number of times you press the Quick Min button -- for example --1 minute, press it once then start; 5 minutes press it 5 times then start. Very good. I especially like the Inverter Turbo Defrost. I was pretty happy defrosting things the way I always had in the microwave -- big things, I mean -- like frozen meat, and not really interested in the Inverter Turbo Defrost that much -- that is until I used it ... it is so neat! It works very well -- no cooked corners of meat, just defrosted nicely. I put a whole frozen chicken in there this morning -- set the Inverter Turbo Defrost for 4.0 lbs. and it does the rest -- it automatically determines the proper defrost time based on the weight -- in this case about 15 minutes. But the GREAT thing about it is that I don't have to stand there and "man" it. It will beep to call your attention to it if it determines that you should turn and reposition your frozen object. As a matter of fact, I totally forgot I was defrosting a chicken until there were about 4-1/2 minutes left on the timer. I went in and it was fine, just thawing. I turned it over anyway (as I might have missed hearing the beep noise), and at the end of the 15 minutes total I had a perfectly thawed chicken, and could even reach in and pull out the giblets, which were still a bit frozen, but easy enough to pull out. Really appreciate this. Also for the times when you want to start something cooking in the microwave before putting it in the regular oven to save time (such as roasting butternut or acorn squash halves), this microwave can fit a whole 9x13 inch baking pan and rotate it!
There are many other things I like and I may add more about this later. You just never know how much you get used to doing things in a certain way, even if it took extra effort, until you just don't anymore ... and that is the beauty and appreciation of an updated kitchen.