When designing or renovating a home, careful consideration should always be given to the unique needs and desires of the homeowners. If accessibility is a core concern of the homeowner, as a designer you’ll need to make some changes to a normal home plan so that it can be used to its fullest potential by every occupant. From slip resistant floors to wider doorways, there are many techniques we can utilize to ensure accessibility needs are met. The kitchen, as one of the most used rooms in a home, warrants special attention. Here’s how to implement accessibility when designing a kitchen.
Barriers aren’t necessarily physical in nature – they can also stem from spatial issues. Following standard guidelines for accessibility is going to be key as you design the kitchen from the ground up. The most common areas where accessibility can be a concern are countertop, wall cabinet, and base cabinet placement and design. In general, you’ll want to think about lowering countertops by around two inches to allow for seated usage, and avoid designing base cabinets under key items such as the cooktops and sinks. Wall cabinets should also be lowered for ease of use, though you could also suggest the installation of powered, adjustable cabinetry which raises and lowers on command. Finally, don’t forget to have any exposed pipes in the sink area insulated fully to prevent burns.
Create Storage Solutions
When designing an accessible kitchen, storage concerns is usually one of the biggest challenges to address. Normal drawers and cabinets are too deep for wheelchair users to fully access, plus you’ll have removed some potential under-counter storage space in making appliances accessible. Creativity is going to be key here. Multi-layered drawers, roll-out cabinet drawers, and pull-out pantries are all great solutions that can help make the most essential items in a kitchen easily accessible by all while still allowing enough space to store everything.
Install Great Appliances
The appliances you choose to install in an accessible kitchen should reflect the overall desire to increase convenience and remove barriers. The cooktop, for example, should be separate from the oven to allow for leg room underneath, as mentioned above. For the oven, a wall oven can be placed at whatever height deemed appropriate for the homeowner – if they use a wheelchair, a side-hinged model is perfect for their needs. The only appliance that should be raised relative to a standard installation should be the dishwasher. When shopping for appliances, you should also look out for an indication that they are ADA-compliant, which helps ensure that the appliances are designed and assembled with accessibility concerns at the forefront.
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