For many homeowners, the words “dream kitchen” evoke tantalizing images.

Some dream of bright, expansive spaces equipped with all the latest gadgets. Others imagine cozy, super-efficient kitchens, built for accessibility and functionality.

But the quality that most dream kitchens have in common is tidiness. A beautiful, neatly organized kitchen should inspire delicious creativity. According to Malia Yee of Graham Builders, it can also inspire us to maintain that tidiness.

“Your kitchen should be a space that you enjoy being in!” says Yee, senior designer for the Honolulu design/build firm. “You might enjoy it because it’s beautiful, because it’s organized and efficient, or because it has enough space for everything you want to do … or ideally, all of those things.”

Creating a kitchen you love, she adds, will help motivate you to keep it that way — a beautiful, organized space in which you’ll want to spend plenty of time.


“First, make a list of what you want to do in your kitchen, and who will share that space,” Yee suggests. “Cooking, baking, entertaining, cooking with family and friends, dining, relaxing, studying, childcare, home office work and laundry are all common activities that take place in kitchens.”

If your kitchen is small, you might need to prioritize your list. (And remember: An experienced architect, architectural designer or interior designer can help you make the most of a smaller space.)

“Think about using underutilized spaces in multi-functional ways,” says Yee.

Built-in benches for a dining nook double as seating and storage. Islands provide prep space, storage and a dining area. And, clever storage ideas for cookware and small appliances help keep counters and work areas uncluttered.

“Upgrade or customize cabinets with smart solutions like pull-outs in tall or lower cabinets, lifts for less-used and heavier appliances, drawer dividers and trash/recycling cabinets,” Yee suggests.

A microwave can be installed under a counter, in a dedicated drawer or over a range — doubling as a vent/hood.


“If you’re fortunate enough to have a pantry, it can go in there, with the kids’ snacks,” she adds.

Yee recommends discarding duplicates of any item in your kitchen.

“More ‘stuff’ makes a kitchen difficult to organize,” she says. “And get rid of things you don’t use! If you hand-wash all your dishes, get rid of the dishwasher — or, if it’s a new construction, don’t install one if you know you won’t use it.”

Finally, don’t be afraid to start from scratch.

“There’s nothing like getting rid of everything and starting fresh, incorporating the items you want, efficiently and beautifully,” Yee says.

A leader in the design and construction of multi-generational homes and aging-in-place design, Graham Builders is the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii Torch Award for ethics in small business. Its next free Building Your Home for Life seminar is scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5. Register now at or call 808-593-2808.

CONTACT 808-593-2808