Creating Barrier-Free Cabinets

Reference Number: KB-00836
Last Modified: September 29, 2015

The information in this article applies to:

Home Designer Professional, Architectural, Suite, and Interiors covers


I use a wheelchair and would like to redesign my kitchen so that it better suits my needs.  How can I do this?



There are a number of ways to customize cabinets so that they meet your accessibility needs.

Lowering the countertop height and increasing the size of the toe-kick helps wheelchair users access base cabinets more safely, easily and efficiently.

To create base cabinets that accommodate wheelchairs

  1. Select Build> Cabinet> Base Cabinet  from the menu, then move your cursor into floor plan view and click to place a base cabinet at that location. 

  2. Click the Select Objects  button, then click on the cabinet to select and click the Open Object  edit button. 

  3. On the General panel of the Base Cabinet Specification dialog, specify the desired Height of the countertop. In this example, 34" is used.

    In Home Designer Pro, you can also specify the Toe Kick Depth

  4. On the Front panel, click on the toe kick at the bottom of the preview image on the right side of the dialog, then specify its Item Height

    In this example, 9" is used. 

  5. On the Door/Drawer panel, you can specify horizontal or vertical pull handles if you wish.

    Pulls are easier for many individuals to use than knobs because they do not require a strong grip.

    Note: Check the preview to make sure your handle is positioned properly, use the "In From Edge" and/or "Down From Top" fields to adjust its positioning.

  6. Select 3D> Create Camera View> Full Camera  from the menu to see the results.

Leaving the space beneath a sink basin or cooktop open allows a wheelchair user to conveniently and safely use these fixtures.

To create a barrier-free sink or cooktop base

  1. Select a base cabinet that you would like to use as a sink base and click the Open Object  edit button.

  2. On the General panel of the Base Cabinet Specification dialog:

    • Specify the Height of the cabinet, measured from the bottom to the top. In this example, 10" is used.

    • Specify a Width sufficient to hold the sink that you wish to use. In this example, 36" is used.

    • Specify the desired Floor to Bottom distance, measured from the bottom of the cabinet down to the floor. This value should be enough to accomodate a wheelchair user's knees. In this example, 24" is used.

  3. On the Front panel, under Face Items, select False Drawer from the Item Type drop-down list.

    • If the Face Item on your cabinet is the toe kick, click the Delete button, then click the Add New button and add a Panel to the cabinet front.

    • You may want to adjust its Item Height and position so that it fits nicely on the cabinet front.

  4. On the Hardware panel, select None from the Drawer Handle drop-down list, then click OK.

  5. Select View> Library Browser  from the menu, then browse to Architectural> Fixtures> Sinks> Kitchen Sinks and click on a kitchen sink to select it.

    In Home Designer 2014 and earlier versions, select Library> Library Browser.

    • In this example, the Flush Mount Offset 32" sink is used.

    • Alternatively, you can browse to Appliances> Cooktops & Rangetops.

  6. Click on the sink base to place the selected sink or cooktop in this cabinet.

  7. To see the results, create a Camera  view of the cabinet.


When placing cabinets in your plan, remember to maintain enough space between cabinet rows to allow a wheelchair to maneuver freely.  When accessing storage in wall cabinets, it's typically easiest to reach from the side of the wheelchair; however, when opening an appliance, preparing food or working at a sink or cooktop, reaching forward is often preferable.

Remember, too, that doorways should be wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through, and that some space should be available for a wheelchair to turn around. A circle with a 5 foot diameter is recommended.


ADA Standards for Accessible Design