Kitchen Remodeling – Accessibility, Any Style
Royal Oak has many beautiful older homes that, through the process of kitchen remodeling, can become accessible for people of all ages and physical abilities. And, homeowners can have all the convenience of accessible drawers and cabinets in their own personal style. For generations, families have lived and grown up in these houses filling them with memories, dreams, and lifestyles. Each decade that passed, new homes were built with kitchens in the same style of the trends of the time. Today, with kitchen remodeling, there are many options for creating a different style without changing the exterior of the home. Whether the style is Farmhouse, Country, Modern, Shaker, Distressed, Spanish, French Provincial, Vintage, Cottage, or Coastal –– a newly designed kitchen needs to be accessible.
Layout of the Kitchen
Professional remodelers have the knowledge to ensure that the overall layout of a new kitchen design will prevent common mistakes that affect the functionality of the room. An improperly designed kitchen can lead to years of regret or frustration as homeowners spend time cooking, eating, cleaning, and moving around in inadequate and tight spaces.
Working with the idea of a kitchen in action where individuals typically move between the cabinets, sink, stove, and refrigerator means having adequate countertops around those appliances, plenty of storage, and sufficient space for movement. Creating a meal, even as simple as a bowl of cereal, is much easier with a counter on both sides of the sink and stove. The breakfast meal cleanup is made simple with a dishwasher and garbage area in close proximity to the sink without blocking access to it.
Countertops are a standard height of 36”. However, when designing an accessible kitchen for use by a homeowner in a wheelchair or using a walker, counter heights should be lowered to 34” or customized for the individual’s height. The height of the cooking surface should be level with the countertops to prevent heat from damaging the surface of the counter. Kitchen sinks, which traditionally have plumbing at the rear of the sink, should also be customized for easy access. Hardware such as a single-lever faucet installed at the side of a sink is easier to reach than one at the back. In areas where a person needs to move about with a walker or wheelchair, swing clear hinges (also known as offset hinges) on doors, and wide doorways of 36” to 42”, add comfort and mobility to the home. A professional remodeler will be able to customize the kitchen to accommodate custom appliances and provide a blueprint showing the exact location and spacing of everything in the finished kitchen.
Cabinetry and Islands With Enhanced Accessibility
New cabinets, drawers, countertops, and islands provide additional storage and options for accessibility. Cabinet doors no longer have to slam when closed. Homeowners can enjoy a soft and easy close. Doors can be installed to open to the right or left and even swing down from below a cabinet to cover items stored on the countertop. Installing a barn door that slides across the wall to cover an open recessed shelf filled with essentials or collectibles adds a creative and unpredictable flair to the kitchen. Barn doors also save space used by swinging or folding doors.
Shelves that pull down and out from an overhead cabinet or that use a lift system can be installed, allowing shelves to come down rather than having to reach for items overhead.
Stainless steel pegboards are an effortless, sleek, and clean alternative to drawers. Rather than stacking pots and pans or utensils, they can hang neatly inside a cabinet door that slides out vertically from a base cabinet. The diversity of modern hardware in cabinets is perfect for individuals in wheelchairs and for all who have difficulty bending down or can’t quite reach those higher shelves.
When considering adding an island to the kitchen, space and the room to walk around the island can transform the island into a convenient and favorite place to work or an obstacle that one has to constantly move around. A larger island can allow for an appliance or built in sink along with extra storage while a smaller island can be designed with extra counter space that slides out, providing an open area beneath it for chairs. It’s important to ensure the island is not too large for the kitchen and that the countertop is at the right level for function and accessibility. If the area seems too small for an island, an island with wheels may be the perfect solution. Whether large or small, islands are a popular and diverse choice for any kitchen style.
Raising a Dishwasher
Raising a dishwasher for easier access requires a contractor who can custom-fit cabinets around it. A dishwasher can be raised at a height that allows the homeowner to pivot rather than bend over. An alternative is to raise the dishwasher 6” to 8” off the floor with access to either side, making bending over easier. Cabinets and drawers can then be built below the dishwasher retaining storage and visual appeal between countertop, appliance, and cabinetry.
Lighting and Ventilation
Lighting and ventilation should not be overlooked when remodeling. Professional remodelers know that lighting can brighten a kitchen making it easier to prepare food or sit and read a cookbook. Dimmer switches can create a relaxing atmosphere in an otherwise brightly lit kitchen. Experts in kitchen design can guide a homeowner with decisions regarding the right type of lighting and where to install it.
Ventilation of the kitchen may appear to be easily resolved through the opening of a window. The temperatures both inside and outside play a role in the usefulness of a window for ventilation. A busy kitchen without proper ventilation can trap the heat and odors of the food. A smart solution to this problem is to install a range hood that pulls the air through a duct and vents it externally. Each meal can then be enjoyed with the flavors and aromas of the dish in an ambiance created through perfect lighting.
A well-designed kitchen will be accessible, flow well, and have tremendous aesthetic appeal. Most importantly, the newly remodeled accessible kitchen will be enjoyed now and in the many years ahead.