Designing an accessible home is one of the best ways you can increase safety and independence for the elderly or people with mobility issues. Similar to the bathroom, the kitchen is a busy area in a home that encounters heavy traffic when it comes to preparing meals and serving food. The primary goal of creating an accessible kitchen is to have a barrier-free design that makes it easier to navigate and access various items when needed. Whether you are remodeling extensively or building from scratch, you need to consider an accessible kitchen design that combines both style and accessibility. Here are five kitchen design features you should consider for increased accessibility.
- Handicap Accessible Kitchen Sink
A handicap accessible kitchen sink is designed with an open space beneath to allow people on walkers or wheelchairs to access the sink easily. The knee clearance and low height of the sink makes work easier for both standing and seated users. The water heater needs maximum heat that is low enough to prevent cases of burns. A single lever faucet can be installed to the side of the sink to make it more accessible. Alternatively, you can install touch control faucets that only require a single touch by the user to turn the faucet on and off.
- Handicap Accessible Kitchen Appliances
There are standard accessibility requirements that you need to consider when selecting appliances for an accessible kitchen. You can increase the accessibility of your freezer using a bottom-drawer style refrigerator. Electrical appliances should be installed at a lower height from the floor to accommodate seated users. Installing an electric cooktop with staggered burners and front controls eliminates the need for reaching out across hot burners. It is important that all appliance doors provide ease of access without having to contort your body.
The best way to find appliances that meet accessible kitchen requirements is to test them out in a showroom. You can also hire a professional to fix appliances that require technical expertise. People with limited finger strength and control can do well with kitchen appliances that use a touchpad operation.
- Clearance Around Workspace
People with mobility issues need a space where they can move about freely without any obstacles. There should be enough room to maneuver when accessing different items or moving from one workstation to another. This includes any dining table, kitchen countertops, or an island setup contained within. In addition, the floor needs to have slip-resistant tiles that require low maintenance. The doorways and hallways need to be wide enough to allow a person on a wheelchair or a walker to maneuver easily. Create a clear opening on the door using swing-clear hinges and a lever-style handle to allow a user to open the kitchen door with ease.
- Handicap Accessible Kitchen Cabinets
The chosen storage options for an accessible kitchen should include items that are regularly used in the kitchen. This helps minimize clutter and reduce the time taken to find certain items when preparing meals or serving food. Install cabinets with rollout shelves, drawers and pullouts to make them easily accessible. A pull-down shelf prevents overstretching to access the items you need, while pullout shelves are better suited for lower cabinets because they help reduce back strain. An accessible kitchen should have cabinets placed around three inches lower than their standard height. You can also add a pullout step around the floor’s perimeter to allow a user to access the upper cabinets. These modifications not only enhance accessibility and maneuverability, but also provide additional safety measures for people with mobility issues.
- Accessible Lighting
Accessible kitchen requirements include providing ample lighting in the kitchen to reduce eyes strain, prevent accidents and create a more suitable work environment. It is important to combine both sunlight and artificial light so that light can travel to all corners of the kitchen. The lighting for an accessible kitchen should be designed for ease of access, safety, and function. The light switches in the kitchen need to be placed at a level that is comfortable for every user. You may require professional help to balance the lighting types with the work surfaces in your kitchen area.
Making a few simple changes in the design of your kitchen can go a long way in creating a welcoming environment for the elderly and people with mobility issues. The most essential factors to consider in an accessible kitchen are ease of access, safety, and function. However, it is also important to incorporate aesthetics and ideal color combinations in your overall design. Each area in an accessible kitchen can be designed to meet the needs of people with mobility issues, regardless of their level of physical challenge.