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Designer Diane Hancock touches on kitchen trends at Dish and Design event. Robin Buckson, The Detroit News

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Kitchens have a new function these days and surprisingly it isn't for cooking, says kitchen designer Diane Hancock.

"Fewer people are cooking in the kitchen and more are entertaining," said Hancock, an independent designer with EuroAmerica Design, a contemporary kitchen showroom in Troy.

That shifting role is changing how kitchens are designed, said Hancock, making them more open in their design and often with less storage. Hancock was one of several experts who spoke at Wednesday's Dish & Design, a series of design talks for Homestyle readers about design, decor and entertaining.

More than 120 guests attended Wednesday's Kitchen Trends event, where experts delved into everything from the latest trends in counters and cabinets to hardware and lighting.

Readers also got a chance to test out a cocktail to enjoy from Detroit's Bad Luck Bar and a crab cake whipped up by Executive Chef Gabby Milton of Lumen, a new downtown restaurant at Beacon Park.

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More and more homeowners are remodeling, and the kitchen is a popular area to tackle. A 2018 Houzz & Home study of 150,000 homeowners released in June found 51 percent planned to start or continue renovations and the kitchen was at the top of their list. 

Hancock said space planning is critical when it comes to a kitchen remodel because the No. 1 expense with a project is mistakes.

"Once you have it (space planning) done, you can move forward with any design style you like," she said. "But plan first."

And while white kitchens continue to be very popular, everyone's favorite neutral — gray — is moving into the kitchen, along with black.

Since fewer people are actually cooking in the kitchen, they're being designed "to look more like furniture," Hancock said. That means appliances that blend seamlessly with the cabinets.

"We're doing kitchens now where you don't see appliances," she said, standing in front of a contemporary kitchen display where it was impossible to spot the refrigerator.

When it comes to tile, bigger is better seems to be one of the biggest trends, said experts from Ciot, a tile showroom in Troy. Slab tiles of marble, quartz, granite or quartzite are now being use to cover enter walls, counters or floors.

In fact, Ciot is building a new 55,000-square-foot gallery that will house 8,000 slabs of tile.

"We're trying to bring the showroom to you," said Erik Liefrinck, a contractor sales representative with Ciot. 

Large format tiles are a big trend along with multi-piece tile and recti-linear tiles, or rectangular tiles, said Jeff Glasener, Ciot's vice president of sales and marketing.

Still, when it comes to creating a look no one else will have with tile, design consultant Jordan Griffith suggests going with a natural stone.

"If you want a house that is one of a kind, natural store is the way to go," she said.

Barbi Stalburg Kasoff of Stalburg Design in Beverly Hills, on the other hand, prefers quartz. 

"It's all we do," Stalburg Kasoff said. "You can put anything on it. It's indestructible."

But if counters or cabinets are out of your budget, small change-ups can still give you a new look. One simple way is new hardware, which Stalburg calls "the jewelry of your home." And don't be afraid to mix metals, she says. Stalburg designed a client's kitchen with gold hardware and stainless steel.

"I think mixing metals is amazing," she said.

Stalburg's suggestion when making changes in your kitchen: Splurge on hardware and a kitchen faucet.

"A good kitchen faucet will cost between $600-$700," she said.

Yani Frye, meanwhile, fixed a cocktail for readers to enjoy, something they'll likely need after a kitchen remodel. His Cucumber Envy Smash — a version of which is on the menu at Bad Luck Bar — mixes gin, lime juice, honey, bitters and, of course, cucumbers.

Frye, who shook the mix vigorously so as to force air bubbles into a cocktail, said he's often asked why cocktails don't turn out as well for a home bartender. One of the biggest issues is the ice is too cold. He said bartenders use ice that's been sitting in a cooler for a bit.

His suggestion? Pull out the ice at home a little earlier before you start mixing your drink.

"When it gets a little sheen, that's the perfect ice," Frye said.

When it comes to creating the perfect crab cake, meanwhile, Milton's secret is letting the ingredients sit for 30 minutes before cooking them up. And add the lump crab gently as the last ingredient. 

"I think crab cakes should be crabby and not lots of filling," she said.

Just one kitchen display over, Hancock said she often tells her clients that a kitchen remodel is one of the worst things they'll go through "but it's worth it in the end."

"Be prepared for the unexpected," she said.

mfeighan@detroitnews.com
 

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