When you buy your first home, you probably don’t consider your needs across the lifespan. After all, you’re so busy trying to get the home equipped and ready for occupancy, who has time to think of anything else? But, nowadays, with more people choosing to stay in their homes and remodel, it may be that your design choices will pay dividends as you age. Given cost considerations, this is particularly important in the kitchen.
If you’re in your home for the long haul, there may be some simple design strategies to make your kitchen remodel functional and practical across the lifespan. Where to start? Check out these Top 10 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Accessible. Sure to make a difference to you and your entire family.
Universal Design Idea 1. Install kitchen counter tops at varying heights for different tasks. For example, lower counter tops can facilitate food prep while seated. The best height? That depends. 28″ – 32″ is probably a good average. The usable counter space for a seated person is about 16″. Ask the pros at your local kitchen and bath remodeling showroom to confirm the best height for you and members of your family.
Universal Design Idea 2. Create work surfaces (counters, breadboards and cutting boards) that can be pulled out for access from a wheelchair or another kind of chair. Drawers with fully extendable glides are easier to access than traditional designs.
Universal Design Idea 3. Build or install wall cabinets that are closer to the kitchen counter top. Make them reachable to young and old, healthy and those with mobility issues. Check out cabinets from specialty stores or consult with the pros at Home Depot, Sears and Lowes.
Universal Design Idea 4. Make bigger, deeper toe kicks and knee spaces under kitchen counters. You never know when you’ll need them and this is a relatively inexpensive Universal Design fix for your kitchen remodel.
Universal Design Idea 5. Install Lazy Susan’s and pullout shelves in your kitchen. Make it easy for everyone to reach what they’re looking for. Even your kids will benefit. Shop around for deals and discounts. Or, buy online. Make sure your measurements are accurate if installing these items yourself.
Universal Design Idea 6. Get rid of the door knobs on your kitchen cabinets. Instead, install D-shaped loop handles on cabinet doors and drawers. These are especially helpful to persons with arthritic conditions. Shop around for deals and discounts. Or, buy online.
Universal Design Idea 7. Reduce glare by using low gloss finishes on your kitchen counter tops. Use contrasting colors to enhance visibility for those with reduced vision. Visit a showroom and ask for help. Don’t forget to consider eco-friendly products.
Universal Design Idea 8. Install the sink closer to the front of the kitchen counter. A removable “faux” (or “false”) counter face under the sink can be easily converted to accommodate a wheelchair or another kind of seat.
Universal Design Idea 9. Allow for at least five feet square of open area to allow for a wheelchair to make a 360 degree turnaround in your kitchen. Install low-pile carpeting or non-slip flooring. Help everyone navigate around your kitchen and home. What you do today can help someone navigate around your kitchen and home with ease in the future. Or, it can help prevent a dangerous slip or fall.
Universal Design Idea 10. Plan for doors openings of at least 36″ wide in your kitchen remodel. Opt for swing away hinges on doors which allow the full use of the entire door frame width. What you install today will make a difference years from now.
UNIVERSAL KITCHEN DESIGN RESOURCES
Center for Universal Design (CUD)
Home Repair and Universal Design
Preparing Your Home