There are many things you should consider when remodeling your kitchen for maximum safety and usability as you get older. The following are just some basic ideas that should help get you started in your plan. Advance Concept’s team has years of experience with environmental modifications for disability access. Located in Albuquerque, we service all of NM.
1. Room Clearance: An important forethought is being able to move freely and easily in your kitchen. Remember, if you might be using a wheelchair or a walker, these require more space to maneuver. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines specify a minimum clear space of 60 inches in diameter for a wheelchair to make a 180-degree turn and about 36 inches clearance between walls. And this is a minimum. However, you don’t want to create a very long distance between the nodes in your work triangle (the refrigerator, sink, and range) either. The key is making your kitchen efficient while providing good clearance for movement.
2. Counter Tops: Most homes are outfitted with counter tops at a height of 36”, the typical height deemed appropriate for their use by a standing person. But as we get older, we may find that sitting while working at our kitchen counter is more comfortable, or the only way to go about it if we’re in a wheelchair. So, at least some of your counters should be lowered to about 26-28 inches from the floor. And for a person using a wheelchair, the counter should also provide knee spaces at least 27 inches high, 30 inches wide and 19 inches deep, as specified by the ADA guidelines.
3. Cabinets and Storage: You should easily be able to find and reach objects in your cabinets and any other type of shelving, pantry or storage components in your kitchen. Consider lowering the wall cabinets to no more than 48 inches from the floor, installing pull down shelving and Lazy-Susan inserts, and changing out door knobs to “D” shaped ones that can be easily grabbed.
4. Flooring: Another important aspect of creating a safe and useable kitchen is making sure that the floors are level, stable, and slip resistant. Many ceramic tiles out there are glazed in a manner that makes them extremely slippery when wet—and kitchen floors often get wet. You’ll want to select a tile or other type of flooring that is easy to clean and maintain, but that has proper slip resistant qualities for safety. And anything that can become a trip hazard, such as torn linoleum, a lose tile or wood floor plank, should be addressed right away.
5. Lighting: Not to be overlooked, proper lighting is essential for safety and usability in a kitchen. You will want to have even lighting throughout the space and add task lighting wherever you will be working or need more visibility, such as over counter tops and inside cabinets. Remember, you can always turn off lights if you feel that you don’t need them. But having the fixtures in place can make working in your kitchen a much more pleasant experience.
If you’re thinking about a kitchen remodel, or any other remodel project or new construction, Advance Concept’s team can help bring everything together. Please call us today for a free estimate. Located in Albuquerque, we service all of NM.