Universally designed kitchens are spaces that are created for maximum use. All kinds of users, from young children to older adults and family members with disabilities included. Universal design makes all the elements of a kitchen accessible even with the passage of time. Read on to know how you can incorporate the principles of universal design into your kitchen.
7 Tips for Universal Kitchen Design
1. Ample space inside the kitchen work triangle
The work triangle is the space bounded by the sink, the fridge, and the stove. Universal design principles dictate that the space inside should be large enough for a wheelchair to turn and move around in, paired with ample space for entry and egress.
2. No barriers to entry
Threshold areas, barriers just inside of the kitchen door that make the doorway unusable for those who are entering with a cane or a wheelchair are not compatible with a universal kitchen. As much as possible allow for barrier-free entry and exit points which are wide enough to comfortably fit a wheelchair or any other type of mobility aid.
3. Pull-out cabinetry
This type of design eliminates the need to reach back into drawers and cupboards. These easily modified units come with grip-friendly knobs for easier use by differently-abled residents. Upgrades such as the use of lazy Susan and slide out shelves can help make items inside cabinets more accessible. Pull-out work surfaces are also ideal.
Note: Set them in heights allowing for comfortable wheelchair positioning. For example, table-style kitchen islands with empty space underneath allow wheelchair users to easily roll up to the kitchen island.
4. Lever-style handles or electronic locks
Use lever -style, oversized handles (like the Ultralatch) on anything from cabinets to doors. These are ideal for those who have difficulty grasping objects and doing tasks that require a significant amount of grip strength. For doors, electronic doors that merely require users to input or scan a code on their phone can make access to the kitchen area hassle-free. Push-button locks can also do the same job and eliminate the hassle of using keys before one can enter the kitchen from outside.
5. Open shelving
Open shelving paired with a see-through glass or plastic containers makes things easy to locate. You can use metal hooks and slide-out drawers to organize items on the shelves while still maintaining accessibility.
6. Electronic appliances
Build microwaves into base drawers to make them easier to reach. Place dishwashers on a raised platform to prevent bending over. Cooktops should be fitted with front controls that are easier to reach. Install the oven at a level most accessible to all family members but not too low that they can be easily opened by children.
7. Countertops and Sinks
Build countertops at various heights to provide a working space that is usable by every member of the house. And opt for practical surfaces that allow for easy cleaning. Also, the sink should also be built with an open, wheelchair accessible bottom.
Universal kitchen design aims to make the kitchen as functional and accessible as possible without the need for drastic changes in layout as time moves forward. With careful and intentional planning you can create a beautiful, functional space that the entire family can use and enjoy.