Top 3 Trade Secrets for a Multi-Tasking Kitchen

interior luxury home kitchen island


Kitchen designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri

The modern kitchen in today’s home must be a multi-tasker, able to handle more household duties than just the cooking. Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri says his clients are asking for kitchens that take on tasks once reserved for single-use spaces. “Today’s kitchen comes stocked with amenities that handle household business such as computer niches, technology stations, and recycling centers all designed in an open floor plan that seamlessly integrates the kitchen with the great room (family room) and dining area.” Jorge has been in business for more than 12 years designing and building custom residences throughout Florida. Based on his observations of changing lifestyle needs in the function and design of the kitchen, he shares his top three trade secrets for creating a modern multi-tasking kitchen.

Create Work Stations:

Today’s kitchen has to handle all types of household business from paying bills to doing homework. The modern floor plan contains workstations and task-oriented cabinetry to facilitate daily life. Cabinetry design features accessibility and convenience with fewer overhead cabinets and more lift-up or sliding doors and pull out drawers at arm’s reach.  Work areas can include a baking station with tray drawers, the food prep area, the coffee bar, and custom storage compartments for appliances. “I design the kitchen to include architectural elements such as wall niches and bump-outs to store coffee machines and other appliances or to showcase dinnerware.”

A computer niche in the kitchen can serve as a satellite home office allowing members of the family to research recipes, do homework, pay bills, and shop online. “The kitchen computer niche is another feature that brings the family together in the heart of the home. It keeps the kids out of the formal office and allows supervision of their online activities.”

According to the American Institute of Architects’ recent design trends survey, 43 percent of architects polled saw an increase in demand for computer areas in the kitchen. “The last few years have seen kitchens take on new functions with dedicated computer areas and recharging stations,” says the AIA.

Although everything can be done wireless, Jorge says some clients want the option of a CAT 5 connection point in the kitchen.

Create an Entry Drop Zone:

The corridor leading from the garage to the kitchen is an ideal space to serve as a drop zone. Jorge designs this area with a bench and under seating storage for people to sit, remove and store shoes. The entrance corridor also features upper cabinets for sports gear and backpacks and wall pegs to hang jackets, umbrellas and other articles of clothing. A countertop serves as a technology docking area to recharge phones and other electronic devices. Underneath the countertop are   filing drawers to store household paperwork. The drop zone frees up the kitchen to focus on other tasks and prevents clutter. “I design this area to be just as architecturally relevant as the rest of the house even though its function is solely utilitarian.”

Jorge enhances the look of the drop zone by adding an arch or beam header to integrate wood elements. The bench base is accented in travertine or stone with cedar wood doors that open to storage compartments underneath. The upper cabinets feature distressed wood complimenting the beam and cedar doors below. The pegboard is an opportunity to introduce clever design elements such as antique hardware and family memorabilia.

Create Social Spaces:

A well-designed kitchen island is essential for entertaining in today’s kitchen. Jorge designs the kitchen island with a minimum of 42” clearance all the way around and a 36”-high bar top that is level with the island. “If you don’t have the space, make the island smaller or reconfigure the kitchen so it’s bigger. Don’t cramp the kitchen. You’ll regret it.”

Jorge recommends consulting with the supplier of the countertop surface during the design phase so there are no issues with the sizing and installation of the countertop with the base cabinetry. “This is a common and costly mistake people make. They build the kitchen cabinetry months before they look at their stone countertop options only to discover the pieces aren’t large enough. So, they end up with a seam in the middle of the island and pay for two slabs instead of one.” Countertop stone selection is a team effort with the kitchen designer, cabinet manufacturer, builder and homeowner.

A social kitchen is one where entertaining happens indoors and outdoors. The trend in home design is to merge the outdoor and indoor living space. The location of the kitchen is key to this successful integration. “People gravitate towards the kitchen. By locating the kitchen next to the outdoor living space, it will pull people outside. Essentially, the kitchen becomes part of an indoor-outdoor party room by adding sliding glass walls to create one space. The outdoor kitchen can handle the grilling while the indoor kitchen serves as the food prep area and a window over the sink can open up to pass through beverages.”

Today’s kitchen takes on many roles, designed to be the cook, the entertainer and the household manager. For more kitchen design tips check out “Trade Secrets by Jorge,” on YouTube and If you have questions or comments about your own kitchen design, post us a picture and write us on facebook



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