A home’s kitchen is supposed to be the warmest, most welcoming part of any home. Make sure you extend the welcome to everyone by making it accessible to people of all physical ability levels.
There are several things that should be considered when it comes to making a kitchen accessible. First, you have to think about whether you want to design the kitchen to be accessible to everyone or just for the specific homeowner. For example, someone who is in a wheelchair might need all countertops and cabinets lowered so that they can access them.
Common Kitchen Designs for Universal Access
After you decide whether or not you want to design your kitchen around one specific person, the next step is to choose a layout. There are a few common layouts that are best for kitchens with universal design:
- L-shaped: an L-shaped plan usually has a meal area that is enclosed within the preparation area. The benefits of an L-shaped plan are that it offers wide corridors between tables and preparation areas, a compact workspace, and continuous work surfaces to make moving objects around the kitchen easier
- U-shaped: a U-shaped plan has a meal area that is adjacent to the work area. This plan provides a good amount of workspace and cabinet storage, as well as lots of room to manoeuvre. It can also be easily closed off to children or household pets
- Galley-shaped: the galley-shaped plan consists of three different rows: two rows of preparation space followed by a row of space for eating meals. This design encourages the kitchen to be open for social interaction and can be entered from multiple sides, making it easily accessible for people in a wheelchair
While the layout of the kitchen has a big impact on its accessibility, there are a few other factors that you should consider as well.
Other Concerns for an Equal Access Kitchen
Everything in the kitchen should be designed to accommodate someone with limited physical needs, including:
- Cabinets and countertops that are low enough to be accessible by someone in a wheelchair or with limited reach
- Lighting should be uniform and include adequate task lighting for meal preparation
- Handles, faucets, and drawers must be designed to be accessible by those with limited strength and mobility
- Sinks should be shallow enough to accommodate people of all abilities and placed in a strategic location within the kitchen
With some effort and thoughtful design, any kitchen can be inviting and usable for everyone.