Design a Kitchen for the Long Term
Simple features to make your kitchen safer and more efficient for everyone
If you plan on being in your home for some time, a carefully designed kitchen will help not only as you age, but when life challenges you with a back injury, broken leg or other limitation. Our designers have a host of strategies to make kitchens safer, more accessible and more efficient for every member of your household. Below are just a few examples.
Vary counter heights
Because we are all different. Tall or short, you deserve a correctly positioned workspace to prevent back strain and make your work easier. A blank space under one section of counter will let you work comfortably from a kitchen stool.
Raise the dishwasher
It can be that simple. By including a drawer unit under the dishwasher in the picture to the right, the designer raised the appliance to a better height for loading and unloading. Easier for everyone, this is an important feature for those who have trouble bending and lifting or who use walkers or wheelchairs.
Lower the microwave
A common placement for the microwave, above shoulder height and over a cooktop, is inherently dangerous. Your designer will help you find a better solution. Below, one microwave is tucked into an island, while another is neatly contained in a cabinet at counter height. Both are fully accessible and adjacent to counter tops where hot food can be safely unloaded.
If you are considering an under-counter placement, check out microwave drawers, now offered by major brands and available Best Buy and other retailers.
Light up work stations
Adults over 40—that’s the majority of homeowners—need more light to see as well as we did when younger. And no one sees well in a shadow. Well-planned task lighting is a must for efficiency and safety. In the kitchen pictured below, the light fixtures are positioned at the front of the cabinet to reduce shadows and get maximum benefit. The installation is neatly finished with light rail molding on the lower cabinet edge.
Roll out the shelves
Roll-out trays, particularly in lower cabinets and pantry cabinets, provide full visibility and access to the contents. A favorite feature in any kitchen, roll-outs are essential for those who have trouble bending and reaching or with limited vision.
Do you have a suggestion on how to make a kitchen more accessible, or are you looking for a solution for a specific problem? Share your thoughts with our readers.