When designing a fully accessible kitchen, it is important to consider how conventional home kitchens can make tasks difficult. Each person has their own set of parameters to make their cooking experience joyful and safe. Here are some of our overall guidelines we consider when designing an accessible kitchen.
Kitchen countertops are typically at a height of 36”, but for manual wheelchair users, counters may be more comfortable at 34”, and in some cases as low as 28”. Power wheelchair users may be comfortable at the 36" counter height. Height adjustable countertops are a great solution in cases where different users have different needs. We also love designing with multiple counter height areas strategically placed for optimal prep cooking. Counters should be clear of any obstructions beneath them to allow wheelchairs to approach the work surface.
Accessible cabinets should be reachable so the user can access without having to bend, reach, or strain. We love using cabinetry with drawers on the base cabinets and some kind of architectural design element in place of upper cabinets. Height adjustable cabinets are also available. When it comes to cabinetry pulls, bar, cuff style handles typically suit more persons dexterity than knobs.
If possible kitchen sinks should have no obstructions beneath them. Wheelchair clearance should be at least 29” high, 11” deep, and 30” wide. Not everyone requires a roll under sink but there are many different ways to make them chic. Sinks need to be positioned to avoid unnecessary bending or reaching. Faucet controls should be reachable and lever type handles or touch control devices. We love using smart faucets and air switches for easy controls.
In an accessible kitchen it is important how the appliances are positioned for user safety. Typical oven height should be at a height around 30” . Side opening, or double dutch oven doors are preferred to eliminate the need to reach over a hot surface. Cooktop and stove surfaces can be made to roll under and the heat controls should always be on the front of the appliance to avoid reaching over flames. We use bluetooth controlled vent hoods for easy controls from any smart phone.
Refrigerators with drawer style, bottom situated freezers allow for easy access. We also love using a set of drawer refrigerators lined up along an island for extra cool storage. Dishwashers come in standard styles and drawer styles. Either can be deemed accessible. If it can be a smart appliance, we will make it a smart appliance. The more ways to control an appliance the better
The best designs always takes into account the specific needs of the user. We use these measurements as a starting point for our clients and adjust accordingly. There is so many ways to make a space accessible and it means something different for every person. For this reason, a good accessible kitchen will not only be comfortable and spacious, but adaptable as well.