Navigating public spaces is often more difficult for people with disabilities, chronic pain, or mobility concerns. Most buildings aren’t designed to be truly accessible. But you shouldn’t have to deal with these obstacles and frustrations in your own home. The kitchen is an important room in your house, and its layout and design should be safe, comfortable, and functional.
Tremendous strides have been made in recent years when it comes to designing for accessibility, and at L. Evans Design Group, accessible kitchen design is one of our specialties. We work with homeowners throughout the Portland metro area to transform their homes to accommodate their specific needs, preferences, and lifestyles.
In this article, we’re covering everything you need to know about optimizing your kitchen layout for safety and accessibility, without sacrificing style!
Understanding the Need for Accessibility
An accessible kitchen design is more than just a nice feature. For many, it’s essential. Approximately one in four American adults has a disability and there is a growing population of people over 65. Accommodating these folks is vital to ensuring convenience and safety across the board.
Generally speaking, most environments are not built with accessibility in mind, even in our own homes. In fact, the majority of falls occur in the home, highlighting a clear need to prioritize safe and accessible features for at-risk populations. Whether you have a disability, are thinking about aging-in-place, or you have a loved one in need of accommodations, making sure your home is accessible can be life changing.
Expert Tips for a Safe and Accessible Kitchen
Everyone has their own needs and preferences, and any accessible design should be customized to suit your individual household. However, there are some helpful ways to incorporate universal convenience and safety into any design. Familiarizing yourself with official ADA kitchen requirements may assist you and your designer in creating a safe layout.
Here are a few ways to create an accessible kitchen design:
- Carve out wide pathways for easy maneuvering
- Lower counter heights or make them adjustable
- Add pull-out cabinets and other movable storage solutions
- Move appliances below counters
- Switch to an electric stovetop
- Add roll-under sinks, stovetops, and prep stations for wheelchair users
- Stagger stove burners
Enhancing Functionality with Smart Design
Smart kitchen features can help make daily tasks simpler and easier. In some cases, technology can even perform the task for you! Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen based on accessibility or universal design principles or not, smart design elements can enhance functionality, convenience, and aesthetics.
Here are some smart home features for kitchens that can help make your home better and safer:
- Home assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant allow you to control kitchen appliances using your voice or smartphone so you don’t have to get up.
- Smart refrigerators have features like internal cameras, built-in coffee makers, built-in browsers, and touch screens with recipe databases and personalized shopping lists.
- Smart ovens and dishwashers let you preheat your oven, monitor cooking time, check your dishwashing cycle, and change the settings using an app; smart ovens are also much safer, since you can double-check that you turned the heat off while out and about.
- Smart countertop appliances like air fryers and crock pots allow you to whip up delicious recipes and then sit comfortably in your living room without the need to constantly get up and check temperatures and timers.
- Smart lights that can be controlled by voice or app improve safety and visibility in the kitchen, especially if they’re strategically placed overhead, under cabinets, and even under the kitchen island for maximum lighting to prevent falls.
- Baseboard vacuums suck up dirt and debris from the floor; you just have to sweep dust close enough to your baseboards, eliminating the need to move a heavy vacuum around or kneel down with a dustpan.
- <h2>Materials and Finishes for a Safe Kitchen
When designing a kitchen remodel in Portland, materials and finishes are an important (and often overlooked) consideration, especially for those with disabilities. It’s a good idea to prioritize finishes that are low-maintenance, durable, and stain-resistant to make cleanup easy and quick. Stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops are excellent choices for accessible kitchens.
Flooring is especially important in creating a safe, ADA kitchen layout. Make sure your floors are flat and comfortable to reduce falls and account for heavy traffic. Some durable and easy-to-navigate flooring materials include:
- Ceramic tile
Timeless Kitchen Design for Aging in Place
The importance of aging in place can’t be overstated for older homeowners. In addition to preserving independence and quality of life, living in your home as you age can actually improve health outcomes and protect your financial interests.
But aging in place in a home that doesn’t suit your changing needs can present problems that make independent living difficult and dangerous. Fortunately, an aging-in-place remodel can offer you the practical solutions and modifications you need to grow old in your home comfortably and safely.
Here are a few ways to create a stylish and functional aging-in-place kitchen design:
- Install no-step doorways to prevent tripping
- Widen hallways for walking aids and wheelchairs
- Prioritize ample counter space
- Add a shallow sink
- Incorporate movable shelving and storage
- Add additional seating (possibly a rolling chair to move around in)
- Ensure counter corners are rounded instead of sharp
- Move the sink closer to the stove to easily transport pots
- Alter the height of appliances to limit bending and reaching
We Can Maximize the Functionality and Style of Your Home With an Accessible Kitchen Remodel in Portland!
If you find cooking, cleaning, or entertaining guests in your kitchen frustrating or even uncomfortable, it’s time to make a change.
At L. Evans Design Group in Portland, Oregon, we understand the importance of accessible, functional spaces for those with disabilities and older adults. Using innovative design solutions, smart technologies, and our years of experience designing for accessibility, we can transform your home with an accessible kitchen design and layout that works for you and is also beautiful and stylish!
Contact us today with any questions and to get started on your project!