In our last house, the kitchen was tiny. It was impossible to open the dishwasher and the refrigerator at once. We had so few countertops that we kept our microwave in the basement on some utility shelves, rather than devote any of our precious counter space to it. As our realtor described it, it was a "one butt" kitchen. The driving factor behind our decision to renovate or move was the kitchen.
Our new kitchen is spacious. It even has an "eat-in" area, which we converted into Connor and Helen's kitchen. Thanks to my parents for this gift - because the two of them have already spent hours in it. They start cooking almost whenever they see an adult cooking in the main piece of the kitchen.
They bring me all manner of delicious treats. And both Helen and Connor love pretending to eat the food they create (and I love that Helen no longer stuffs all sorts of inedible items into her mouth). In short, even though it is a large and pricey item, it is definitely going to be a winner in terms of both space consumed per hour of play AND hours spent per dollar spent on the item. And I have no doubt that it will stand the test of time.
Connor's friend Zoe has been over several times. So far, their favorite game to play together is hoard and then consume. Once they see the kitchen, one of them grabs the shopping cart and the other one grabs a shopping bag. They quickly set about pulling every food item off the shelf and from the cabinets, as well as the pots, utensils, and anything else they see. Then they sit near their chosen stovetop (we have two) and start making stuff.
After Zoe left, Connor and I put the items back where they belonged, and Connor remarked to me how nice it was that his new kitchen has a washing machine, because he needed to wash all the dish towels after all the cooking he and Zoe had been doing. Several loads later, he pronounced his job complete.
Sadly for Helen, she didn't stand a chance at getting many items with the 3 years olds grabbing whatever they could. No matter, she made her own fun. She secured a few special items (probably the marbles) and set about cooking them on the floor, rather than risk getting hip-checked away from a stove.