Let’s face it — no matter how immaculate a table you set, no matter how perfectly you manicure the spread, no matter how warm and inviting your dining room may feel, people are drawn to the kitchen. When the time comes for entertaining, evenings begin and end huddled around your island, rifling through your pantry, scrubbing over the sink, talking and laughing with loved ones over wine. Throughout the week, the kitchen is where your family convenes after long days at work and school to share stories and snacks. The kitchen is where the magic happens! Since it just may be the most lived-in space in your house, don’t you want to do it right?

When the time comes to renovate your kitchen or build anew, there are so many details to keep in mind. So, we have asked the local experts: What should people consider as they design their kitchen? What design elements do you recommend? What tricks of the trade can you share? And they dished! Here are some tips from local designers who know how to design a killer kitchen. (Just look at these dreamy photos!)

kitchen

A sneak peek at the beautiful kitchens designed by Memphis’ talented design experts

A kitchen for all seasons

While it may be tempting to aim for an ornate, elegant and immaculate kitchen, keep in mind this is a space you will use every day. Lisa Mallory of Lisa Mallory Interior Design recommends designing a kitchen that can accommodate both day-to-day use and entertaining. A well-designed kitchen can be both “comfortable and warm, but also sleek and stylish,” says Lisa, who designed this gorgeous kitchen in partnership with Karen Kassen of Kitchens Unlimited.

This kitchen from Lisa Mallory is modern and chic, yet warm and inviting. The extensive counter space is great for family use, as well as cooking and entertaining.

This kitchen, designed by Lisa Mallory in partnership with Karen Kassen of Kitchens Unlimited, is modern and chic, yet warm and inviting. The extensive counter space is great for family use, as well as cooking and entertaining.

Choose your materials wisely

When it comes to countertops, not all materials are created equal! Kitchens Unlimited recommends that you take some time to consider your personal cooking style, which can determine the best material for your home. “For example, for a messy cook who makes lots of sauces, we might recommend a quartz countertop, which resists staining, over marble, which is porous and will etch when oils and acids are spilled or splattered,” says Lana Zepponi of Kitchens Unlimited. “For a client who tells us they love chopping vegetables, we could use a wood countertop that can actually be chopped on!”

"In this High Point Terrace kitchen, a forgiving black granite countertop was chosen because that is where the client makes the biggest messes." Image: Julie Wage Ross

In this High Point Terrace kitchen, designed by Lana Zepponi for Kitchens Unlimited, a forgiving black granite countertop was chosen to conceal the client’s messes. Image: Julie Wage Ross

An island is a welcomed addition

Cindy McCord of Cindy McCord Interior Design knows that in most households, there is a great deal of time being spent in the kitchen. Her tip is to incorporate a large island into your kitchen design, which can be used in all sorts of ways. According to Cindy, an island can serve as buffet or server, a display area, or even a dining table if need be.

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This large island can serve as a work space, a serving counter or a display in this kitchen designed by Cindy McCord. Image: Julie Wage Ross

This large island can serve as a work space, a serving counter or a dining surface in this kitchen designed by Cindy McCord. Image: Julie Wage Ross

Light it up

Frank Gusmus of Gusmus Construction has worked on countless kitchen builds and remodels over the years, and his guidance is to “keep a kitchen bright and clean with a lot of light.” When designing a kitchen, natural light, recessed lighting and lighting fixtures can come together to create a sparkling, vibrant space. To complement all of that light, Frank suggests that less is more when approaching cabinetry and backsplash. Choose bright, simple materials and allow the space to glow.

Frank Gusmus of Gusmus Construction suggests that "the island can often be used as a point of contrast to make it all pop." Looking at those gorgeous wood countertops, we have to agree!

Frank Gusmus of Gusmus Construction suggests that “the island can often be used as a point of contrast to make it all pop.” Looking at that gorgeous wood countertop, we have to agree! He designed Pam Martin and Mark Rosenberg’s kitchen above with decorator Elizabeth Malmo.

Consider both style and function

Driscoll Design & Decoration is all about style and function, so they suggest stainless steel countertops. There is a reason commercial kitchens use stainless steel — it is an easy-to-clean, no-fuss material that maintains its quality over time. “The chic, clean look of stainless steel and slight reflective quality makes a kitchen sparkle in a timeless way,” says Gwen Driscoll of Driscoll Design & Decoration. Another benefit of using stainless steel is that you no longer need to sweat over paint color choices says Gwen, adding, “No worries about matching whites, neutrals or color to stainless steel. Anything goes and everything looks stunning!”

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Gwen Driscoll of Driscoll Design & Decoration raves that "integrated stainless sinks and countertops are a bonus, as seamless kitchen elements make clean up a breeze!"

Gwen Driscoll of Driscoll Design & Decoration raves that “integrated stainless sinks and countertops are a bonus, as seamless kitchen elements make clean up a breeze!”

Simplify the space

If you ask Ryan Anderson of RKA Construction, he will tell you the simpler the better, and that clean, white lines married with open spaces are the way to go. His other recommendation? Skip cabinetry. “A scullery can provide storage for items like kitchen appliances and space for food prep, with a fully shelved pantry close by.”

This bright kitchen with clean lines from RKA Construction looks open and uncluttered with its minimal cabinetry. Image: Stefanie Rawlinson Photography

This bright minimalist kitchen from RKA Construction looks open and uncluttered with its lack of cabinetry and creatively hidden storage solutions. Image: Stefanie Rawlinson Photography

Steer clear of trends

Ami Austin Interior Design recently earned the top spot in the “Kitchens $50,000 and Above” category at the Interior Design Society’s “Designer of the Year” competition. Needless to say, when she offered advice, we were all ears! She proposed a mindset of timeless, not trendy. “Trends are not the way you want to go for a kitchen remodel,” says Ami. “One of the major reasons clients want to remodel is because a trend was already there and now, it is no longer trendy.” Save yourself the heartache (and the dollars) down the line, and incorporate elements that never go out of style.

This stunning kitchen space designed by Ami Austin has timeless features that will never go out of style!

This stunning kitchen space designed by Ami Austin has timeless features that will never go out of style.

Make it guest-friendly

John Harrison Jones Architect knows a thing or two about kitchen construction, after over a decade of work as a full-service professional design firm. John’s recommendation? Be sure your kitchen is ready for entertaining. “These days, kitchen spaces are more about entertainment than just a back-room workshop. Open areas with fewer cabinets leave room for art, which makes a kitchen feel more like a living space.” John also suggests that “hiding everyday appliances and making them handy for quick use is another nice touch.”

John Harrison Jones loves less cabinetry and more space. He says, "if you need a ‘workshop,’ a working pantry is a luxury that provides additional refrigeration and utility out of sight and out of the way."

John Harrison Jones advocates for less cabinetry and more space. He says, “If you need a ‘workshop,’ a working pantry is a luxury that provides additional refrigeration and utility out of sight and out of the way.”

Whether you’re messy or immaculate, whether you love boldness or simplicity, choose the design ingredients that are right for you, and cook up a kitchen that matches your aesthetic and culinary styles.

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