Sharing a kitchen with other people can be quite challenging when their cooking styles and habits don’t quite complement your own.

And sharing a kitchen with one or more close family members can be downright maddening.

“Perhaps you live in a multi-generational household with one or more self-proclaimed James Beard award-quality home cooks — or should we call them kooks?” chuckles Evan Fujimoto, president of award-winning Honolulu design and build firm Graham Builders. “You know, the kind who criticize your julienned carrots for looking like they were spit out by a woodchipper? Their knives are always sharp enough to butcher an ox, and they hate it when you use their cutting boards, cook rice without pre-soaking, or use the wrong sponge to wipe the sink!”

Rather than bringing in Gordon Ramsey to set things straight, it might be time to consult with Graham Builders, suggests Fujimoto.

“We’ve helped many island families to live in ‘relative’ harmony by maximizing space, functionality and efficiency in their kitchens,” he says. “With a kitchen specifically designed for sharing by two or more cooks, some of your biggest challenges can be abated or avoided completely.”


Whether you’re considering a renovation or thinking about the design of a new home, anticipate that your kitchen project will be more complex if you’re planning for regular simultaneous use by more than one cook.

“For most folks, the kitchen is the heart of their home,” Fujimoto points out. “Your problem might be that your kitchen is just too cramped, or your layout doesn’t easily accommodate more than one home chef at a time. A good designer can help you find ways to work around some of these issues.”

Storage. Adequate storage space is essential, especially for specialty appliances and cookware that aren’t used regularly. Slide-out shelves, deep drawers and pullout swivel shelves for “blind” corner cupboards are great. Consider appliance lifts for mixers, and “garages” and above-counter drawers to keep coffeemakers, toasters and blenders out of prep areas. Remember to include power outlets!

Prep sinks and dual dishwashers. Separate prep sinks are a terrific idea; they keep food and dirty dishes separate and can enable two cooks to work happily in the same kitchen. They’re often placed at one end of a center island, near the food prep area. Dual dishwashers are increasingly popular in big families.

Adequate counter space. Prep space and elbowroom are essential in a kitchen shared by two people. Islands with prep sinks are wonderful. Include as much continuous, uninterrupted counter space as possible, so you can spread out while prepping.

Food storage. Does your ohana share food or keep things separate, or something in between? You might consider a pair of pantry cupboards for dry goods.


“And remember, kitchens can be equipped with more than one refrigerator,” says Fujimoto.

Cooking. It’s important to think about cooktops and ovens carefully in a kitchen with more than one cook, according to Fujimoto.

“Consider how many burners everybody might need, and what size range,” he says. “Also, it’s possible to equip a kitchen with both a range and double wall ovens.”

A soup faucet over the range can be a welcome addition in a busy kitchen, as it eliminates the need to carry large pots of water from the sink to the stove.

In kitchens used by multiple home chefs, it’s best if everybody takes responsibility for his or her own messes, and even better when everybody pitches in or takes turns cooking and cleaning up. But a smart kitchen designed especially for simultaneous use by multiple cooks can be a family “game-changer.”

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 for Saturday, Dec. 3. Register now at or call 808-593-2808.

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