Universal Design Considerations for the Kitchen

There are a great many and varied modifications that you can make to your home. Well planned ones are what make the universally designed home a success compared to than a conventionally designed home with a lot of band-aids added as age progresses or as disabilities arise. Well-thought, built-in elements keep the users from feeling like their home is turning into a hospital. Imagine a plastic chair added to your shower instead of an attractive built in shower seat. Aging people or people with disabilities have the most trouble in the more hard working and utilitarian areas of the home  — the kitchen and bath. Below are some considerations for kitchen as you renovate a home with universal needs in mind.

Our Universal Design Mantra: Make it invisible or make it beautiful

Knee Space

Recesses at the sink and stove top allow people using walkers and wheelchairs to keep an appropriate, usable distance. The kitchen shown below have made accommodation for shallow cabinets below.

Inclusive Kitchen Islands

Islands are a mainstay in the modern American kitchen but so often they are designed for use with stools. Bar and counter height stools are exclusive to use by able bodied people. An island with space for normal height chairs is better suited for those who are looking to thrive in place.

Hardware Choices

For the same reasons that certain bathroom faucets are more ergonomic than others, so too are cabinet and and drawer hardware. Knobs are useful for the most dexterous among us which is why handles are more useful for a wider set of abilities.

Pull Out Storage

Most new kitchens today feature pull out shelves in lower cabinets but have you ever thought of making your upper cabinets easier to reach? Pull down inserts like the one shown below can help people of all sizes and abilities.

Separate The Stove and Oven

We saw above why leaving a recess below your cook top would be an advantageous decision for a universal design approach but  also, arranging your oven away from below your cook top is also more ergonomic for retrieving potentially hazardous hot foods. Not everyone needs double ovens like the one shown below. Single wall ovens are readily available as well as an oven / microwave combination that still gives the look of a double oven.

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