A few years ago at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, I saw a prototype of a stainless steel trough that could be used to both cook food and clean up afterward. The Jetsons-like combination cooktop/sink was my idea of a modern kitchen.

As cool as that technology was, however, today's kitchens are less about high-tech gadgets than about designers and remodelers applying technology to create custom spaces that enhance clients' lifestyles.

Writer Wanda Jankowski offers examples of this in her story about "The 21st-Century Kitchen." In this article, she describes a room that is open to adjacent spaces, creating a living area that eliminates formal living and dining rooms. This space also has work zones flexible enough to cater to preparing meals for a small family or entertaining dozens of guests.

No one is more attuned to the theme of building to suit their lifestyle than the baby boomer generation. In "The Next American Home," Jankowski extracts information from a study by that name -- commissioned by our publishing company, Hanley Wood -- of 50- to 60-year-olds with a household income of more than $100,000. The boomer wish list includes: a large room that combines living, dining, and kitchen in one; a connection to the outdoors; and a large pantry and mudroom. All in a style that is modern, but not cold.

In the boomer's "social kitchen" as defined by architect Ed Binkley, guests and family are an integral part of the equation. This kitchen offers a place to sit at an island for entertaining, so guests feel included yet don't get in the cook's way, and living spaces that connect to an outdoor entertaining area with its own kitchen.

For companies with high-end client lists made up mostly of boomers, tracking these trends is vital. Finding out how your clients live and socialize, and offering solutions to help them fit their home to their lifestyle, is the key to your success.

Nina Patel