Design Week Spring Showcase: More to kitchens than cooking

Your kitchen is a gathering space and it's important to create a room that is functional as well as beautiful - one will last a long time.

The talk was of kitchens during Boston Design Center’s Spring Showcase, a one-day “mini market” coinciding with Boston Design Week. Everybody knows the key role that kitchens play in selling a house.

These days, in addition to serving as a family dining spot, the kitchen is for entertaining.

Spring Showcase brought together a group of leading designers who were willing to share their insights into what makes a kitchen great. Throw away your old ideas about work triangles. Today’s kitchens can use space in creative ways.

Keynote speaker Matthew Quinn, author of the gorgeous book, “Quintessential Kitchens,” starts by distilling three words that show up repeatedly in his early conversations with a client. He then creates a kitchen that fulfills the description.

Some of his surprising tips:

· Don’t tile only 18 inches up for a backsplash. Use a less expensive tile if you need to, but for maximum impact, tile the entire wall up to the ceiling.

· If you have room, place dual ovens side by side to avoid the inevitable bending to reach the lower oven. Measure your elbow height and place the middle racks there.

· Take inventory of everything you use in the kitchen to make sure there’s a place for it. Where there’s a butler’s pantry, house small appliances there. This way, the kitchen counters stay clear.

· Mix metals. Stainless steel and brass look sharp in the same kitchen.

· Add places for art, sculpture and TV.

· Place a sink at the corner of the island rather than the center to allow two people to work at once.

· If you can take just a small step to update a kitchen, make the ceiling glossy.

Jewett Farms + Co. ( sponsored a panel discussion with nine designers that started with this notion: kitchens must be functional as well as beautiful. The way the space is laid out depends on the way the homeowner chooses to live. For most people, it’s best to create a kitchen design that will last a long time. Think in terms of timeless design, thoughtful procedure and quality materials.

These designers also offered useful suggestions:

· When designing your kitchen, begin by gathering pictures from Instagram, Houzz and Pinterest to figure out what you like. Focus on appliances and decide what you want. Setting a budget is essential, and don’t purchase anything until you have a final design.

· Remember that you’ll be disrupting a space you use every day. Plan upfront and set a timeline, but keep a flexible mindset. There are always surprises.

· Think about the details. Determine in advance where the hardware will go on the cabinets and the height of the light fixtures.

· Manage your expectations in terms of timing. It might seem like it all comes together quickly on HGTV, but a lot happens behind the scenes that you don’t see. Figure out how much time you personally have to put into the kitchen project. Take a holistic view of your home, what you want and how to get there.

Finally, a panel of designers at Italian kitchen showroom Scavolini discussed when to break old rules in creating beautiful kitchens. The concept of the kitchen has evolved and technology has changed the way we do things.

The kitchen is more of a living space now. You’re probably planning a kitchen, not just for yourself, but also for your guests. With your designer, write the story of what you want from the room.

In New England, many of our homes have traditional architecture, but we want modern kitchens. You don’t need to completely eliminate the history, but must mix in the new. Trends will influence you, but you shouldn’t be too trendy. Striking that balance takes talent. Make sure you have a strong relationship with the talented people who are helping you realize your dream kitchen.

Color is an important element. White kitchens are as popular as ever. The demand for gray has been big in recent years and now warmer tones are coming back.

Think of your kitchen as a reflection of your own style of cooking and entertaining. Strive to make it a space that you and your guests will love for years to come.