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Universal Kitchen Design Ideas and Considerations

January 11, 20121 comment

A beautiful, contemporary kitchen with an open kitchen design and layout.

This space has several elements that are great for universal design, including bold and high contrast hardware, bright task lighting, and an open floor area for improved navigability.

Everyone has different abilities, and it’s no secret that as we age everyday tasks can become more difficult. If you find yourself designing a space that needs enhanced accessibility, there are several design considerations that can improve the functionality of your space.

First off, an open floor plan is ideal for universal design. Ideally, the space should have the least amount of narrow doorways and hallways as possible. Five feet of room between obstacles is preferable for open kitchen design. For example, a five-foot gap between the kitchen island and wall cabinets provides enough space for wheelchairs and walkers.

Another consideration is to install appliances and kitchen storage solutions at a level that is easy to use for everyone. For example, raising the dishwasher off the ground keeps it usable for those in wheelchairs and for those who have difficulty in bending their body. Make sure to test out new appliances before purchasing. Perhaps, Bottom/Top Freezer refrigerators aren’t practical, and French Door or Side-by-Side door models are better.

Additionally, try a countertop level microwave to put it in reach for most. Also, keep items in the places where they will be used to avoid difficult transport. Appliance garages are a great way to keep small appliances hidden, yet readily available.

Rather than defaulting to standard level countertops, adjust the height up or down to the most comfortable level for the homeowners. This will make food preparation and cleaning much easier.

Don’t forget about lighting. Bright lighting, including specific task lighting, is ideal for kitchens that need to universal accessibility. On a related note, larger hardware pulls, instead of small knobs, are easier to see and use for everyone.

CliqStudios designers can help create a well-designed kitchen space that is not only functional, but also accessible and appropriate for your needs.


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Showing 1 comments

  1. Jo-Lynn Reply

    Don’t forget to plan easy cabinet access via roll-outs/pull-outs — they can be absolute dreams for users of any age or ability!

    On task lighting, check out the newer under-cab units that can be hard-wired in to a wall switch but still have off-Low-High settings on each. Great flexibility!

    Regards microwaves — have you seen the new microwave drawer units that are built into base cabinets? Great universal design idea too!

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