7 Tips for Designing a Stylish, Accessible Kitchen
Today’s kitchen is so much more than just a place where you cook. It’s where homework is being done, friends and family are hosted for dinners, and where memories are made. It truly deserves to be called the heart of the home! Therefore, whether you’re redesigning your old kitchen or you’re about to move into a new home, it’s important to pay attention to both style and accessibility of your kitchen, especially if one of your loved ones has special needs. However, without experience or professional guidance, this could be easier said than done. That’s why we’ve asked experts from the renowned kitchen & bath home center for advice, and here are pro tips for designing a stylish, accessible kitchen. Trust us; it will be the envy of your friends and family and everyone’s favorite place to spend time in.
Let’s make designing a stylish, accessible kitchen fun and easy
When you think about kitchen design, you probably imagine stylish countertops, one-of-a-kind backsplash, and accessories that tie the whole concept together and make your kitchen truly leave everyone in awe. However, even though there’s no denying the importance of style, accessibility and functionality are even more critical factors to consider.
In fact, designing a kitchen that is both beautiful and functional can improve the overall quality of life and increase the value of a home. It also promotes inclusivity and can make a space more enjoyable for everyone. However, it can be difficult to find a balance without sacrificing function for the sake of style, especially if you are designing your own home. That’s why we’ve asked experts for help, and here are seven tips for designing a stylish, accessible kitchen.
#1 Plan for a wide aisle
Creating a functional and accessible kitchen starts with considering the layout and plan. A wide aisle is crucial for easy access for people using wheelchairs, walkers, or canes, with a minimum of 36 inches recommended for a clear aisle, but, if possible, 42 inches is even better. This aisle should be clear of any obstacles, such as furniture or appliances, to make it as easy as possible to move around.
When it comes to kitchen layouts, the one you choose will mostly depend on your kitchen size. For example, galley kitchens with two parallel countertops and a walkway in between can be very efficient because everything is within reach. Or, l-shaped kitchens with two parts of the countertop that form an L shape provide plenty of countertop space and can be a good option too.
#2 Opt for lower countertops
Standard countertops are typically 36 inches high, which can be difficult for people in wheelchairs to use. Therefore, make sure to opt for lower countertops that are around 34 inches high. This will make it easier for people to reach the countertops and will also make it easier to transfer from a wheelchair to a countertop. Plus, if you add pull-out drawers, not only will you make your kitchen more accessible, but you’ll also be able to organize like a pro.
#3 Choose appliances that are easy to use
When selecting appliances for your kitchen, it’s essential to keep in mind the needs of everyone who will be using the space. For individuals with disabilities, choose appliances that are easy to use and navigate. Look for models with large buttons, knobs, or handles that are easy to grip and turn, as well as appliances with a front-mounted control panel so that the controls are easy to reach and use, even for those in a seated position.
Additionally, consider appliances with voice-activated controls. This can be especially helpful for those with limited mobility or dexterity. Another important feature to look for is the ability to adjust the height of the appliance, such as a stove or oven, making it more accessible for individuals who use wheelchairs. With a little extra attention to detail, you can create a kitchen that is not only functional and efficient but also inclusive and accommodating to all users.
#4 Think about lighting
Lighting is an important aspect of any kitchen, but it is especially important in an accessible kitchen. Good lighting will make it easier for people with visual impairments to navigate the space. Consider installing under-cabinet lighting to help illuminate the countertops and task areas. Also, consider installing dimmable lights so that the lighting can be adjusted to suit different tasks and preferences.
#5 Select easy-to-clean materials
When designing a stylish, accessible kitchen, choosing materials that are easy to clean and maintain is essential. This will make it much more manageable for people with disabilities to keep their kitchens looking great without added effort. Let’s take flooring as an example. When considering flooring options for your new kitchen, think about using materials like laminate, which is easy to wipe down and keep clean, or tile, which is also straightforward to clean and maintain. Both options are durable and can withstand heavy use, making them perfect for a kitchen.
Redoing your kitchen floors gives you a great opportunity to paint the walls, too. Given that the space will be completely empty and clean, it’s much easier to have everything done in one go, even if you haven’t planned on painting in the first place. And even though it’s an extra expense, you can always find ways to save money. For example, if you’re designing a kitchen in your new home, you can think about reusing moving supplies after the move. You’ll be left with plenty of boxes, wraps, and so on, and you can reuse them when renovating. It’s quite easy if you get creative.
#6 Install levers and bars
Another thing to consider is the needs of those with smaller or weaker hands. Knobs can be challenging for them to grip, which is why it’s recommended to use lever- or touch-operated faucets. These types of faucets can be turned on and off with ease, making them more convenient for those who may have difficulty gripping them.
Additionally, it’s best to choose options with bars or wider handles when it comes to cabinet hardware, making it easier to open the cabinets with the whole hand rather than relying on dexterity. These thoughtful design choices not only cater to those with arthritis or weaker grip but also allow for aging in place without the need for future remodels.
#7 Add a touch of style
Just because your kitchen is accessible doesn’t mean it has to be dull and uninspired. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to infuse your own personal style into the space. To add a touch of flair to your kitchen, consider incorporating elements such as a colorful backsplash, stylish hardware, or beautiful lighting fixtures. These little details can make a big impact on the overall aesthetic of your kitchen, giving it a unique and inviting feel.
Furthermore, you can also play with textures by combining natural materials like wood and stone, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. You can also add pops of color with artwork or plants, which can bring life and energy to the room. The possibilities are endless, and it’s essential to remember that an accessible kitchen doesn’t have to sacrifice style for functionality. With a bit of creativity and thought, you can easily have both!
The bottom line
In conclusion, designing a stylish, accessible kitchen is all about planning, creativity, and attention to detail. By keeping these seven tips in mind, you can create a kitchen that is both beautiful and functional for everyone. With the right design, you can create a space that is not only easy to use but also a pleasure to spend time in. Remember that you shouldn’t view an accessible kitchen as a burden but rather as an opportunity to create a beautiful and functional space that everyone can enjoy.