Charlotte Kitchen Designer Details How Technology & Function Are Driving The Design Of This Family “Command Center”

Posted on | August 4, 2015 | No Comments

Today’s kitchen is still the heart of the home, but it’s also the family “command center,” and a central hub of family activity. Technology is increasingly making its presence known in the kitchen, and certainly has its place in reshaping this all important room. To find out more about the technological and functional aspects of today’s kitchens, we talked to Dara Barber, Design Manager at E3 Cabinets and Design in Charlotte. E3 Cabinets is a full service design firm and cabinet provider, known for high quality, beautiful and functional designs. Dara gave North Carolina Design her take on how she puts together a kitchen that meets the varied requirements of modern family life.

Images Courtesy of E3 Cabinets and Design ©

“First, you have to identify the family’s needs,” she says. “How many kids do they have? What ages? Do both parents work? Do they work in the home or out of the home? Who’s in the house during the day? Who does the cooking? What activities go on in the kitchen? Homeowners may need the space to accommodate anything from homework, to hobbies, to a craft station to volunteer work.”

Because kitchens now serve multiple purposes, the kitchen workspace has shifted beyond the classic work triangle. “It’s not just Mom in the kitchen making dinner anymore,” explains Dara. “Oftentimes there is more than one cook in the family, so you may need more than one prep station. You might have a spot where the kids hang out so you can monitor them or help them with homework while you cook. It really ends up being a work square, or even a five-point shape.

“A lot of people are trying to fit two islands in their kitchens – an island for prep work and an island for dining, homework, crafts, etc. They’re trying to keep these activities separate so they can simplify a busy space. If you’re lucky enough to have a big kitchen then it’s a really great option.”

Of course, meeting the kids’ specific needs in the kitchen is essential. “You need a charging station low enough for kids to reach,” advises Dara. “People are choosing single-level islands for lots of reasons, but one significant reason is safety. It can be precarious for little kids to be up on a 42-inch chair. People are also adding lower drawers for their kids’ snack stuff, school stuff, crayons and school supplies, so they can come home and get themselves a snack or do homework or art projects.”

Mobile technology has ushered in the end of the once ubiquitous kitchen desk. “We still do need a spot where everyone can park their electronics, stash important papers and drop the mail, but because we’re so mobile, we don’t necessarily need to sit at that spot,” says Kim. “Instead of putting a big ugly desk in the middle of the kitchen, we can put everything behind closed doors and create a pretty area that can even serve a dual purpose – a butler’s pantry or a laundry room, for example.”

Tucking things away is the key to preserving aesthetics in a tech oriented kitchen. “I hide as much as I can,” Dara concedes. “I use plug bars that go underneath cabinets and tuck charging stations inside of drawers. I make sure all of the wires are hidden away but still easily accessible. Appliance garages were once just for toasters and blenders – now people add an extra one to their command center for their laptops and iPads.”

“I think that in some ways technology drives us apart, but in other ways it brings us together,” reflects Dara. “Because everything is so mobile, families can all be in the same room, talking and interacting and helping one another, even though they’re doing different things. It’s exciting to see how technology has influenced the kitchen. And I look forward to seeing how it will become further integrated in different aspects of the kitchen in the future.”

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