Adding Accessibility to a Kitchen

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Accessible Kitchen

Adding special features to your home can help you live there longer and more comfortably – no matter what age you are. And you don’t have to give up style! Universal design features help everyone live well. Let the editors from Better Homes and Gardens® magazines show you how to pack kitchens with convenient features to make life a little easier for people with disabilities.

There are lots of ways to make a kitchen more functional without making it look institutional. Design an open floor plan that works well for a family, and at the same time, offers plenty of space for a wheelchair to be moved around the room with ease. Here are some important tips to remember when creating a new kitchen with adaptive, unobtrusive features that make it comfortable for a person with disabilities and the rest of the family as well.

Lowered cooktop with space underneath for a wheelchair

Open space below a lowered cooktop accommodates a wheelchair, while custom cherry and maple cabinetry creates a sophisticated look.

Take measurements of the homeowner sitting in his/her wheelchair to determine the correct heights for things such as toe-kicks and countertops. One inch can make a big difference in whether something works or not.

Open Cabinet peninsula for easy access

Kitchen storage is an issue to think about because much of the room’s floor space is needed for wheelchair maneuverability. A peninsula can be a key element in keeping needed essentials hidden but accessible. It houses drawers and cabinets that are low enough for people to reach easily.

Cool floor tiles and ceiling fan

Multiple sclerosis sometime makes people sensitive to heat and humidity, so chose smooth, cool porcelain tile for the floor and install a ceiling fan to keep air moving.

Lowered cabinet heights for easy wheelchair access

The sink and the peninsula in this kitchen are 30 inches high rather than the standard 36 to allow wheelchair accessibility. Open spaces beneath the sink and cooktop are disguised by custom-designed pocket doors, which look just like the rest of the kitchen’s cabinetry when closed.

Pull out shelf with salad bowl

This pullout shelf near the sink is equipped with space to hold a bowl, making it easier to toss salad or mix ingredients without steadying the bowl.

Raised dishwasher

The dishwasher is raised a bit higher than usual to cut down on the amount of bending needed to load it. When closed, the custom front panel blends easily with the rest of the kitchen cabinetry.

Though universal design guidelines call for toe-kicks that are 83/4 inches high, measure the person’s feet in his/her wheelchair before building. This is to avoid having the person remove his/her feet from the wheelchair footrests when pulling up to cabinets.

Sideload stove

The oven is lower than a standard wall oven and opens from the side like a refrigerator. An oversized cutting board under the door pulls out to give added prep space or room to rest heavy dishes.

Other Smart Ideas and Tips:

A home with accessible features is more convenient for the young and old alike. Work to ensure your finished kitchen will make everyone feel welcome.

© 2007 Meredith Corporation