Are you wondering how to get the most out of your appliances?
There are a few tricks to installing appliances in ways that make them more accessible and easier to use.
This will benefit you and your family today and will make things easier if anybody’s physical needs change in the future.
Kitchen Appliance Installation Height
- If you have the space and are prepared to pay a little extra, you may want to consider a seperate cooktop and wall oven rather than the all in one traditional range. A seperate cooktop gives you the option to install it on a lowered countertop surface which could have an open knee-space below. This open space allows you to sit at the cooktop in a chair or wheelchair, making it a more comfortable cooking position as you are facing the work surface head-on rather than sitting parallel to it.
- A wall oven will give you the ability to choose its installation height according to your personal preferences and physical height. Ergonomically speaking, a good guideline is to install the oven controls so they are easy to reach for the shortest adult in your home. You want to be able to reach into the oven without raising your arms above shoulder height as this is uncomfortable and unsafe when dealing with hot dishes.
- You don’t have much choice in the height of this appliance unless you are installing fridge drawers. These drawers are designed for installation in the lower cabinets in a single or double-stacked configuration. Tip: You could have 3 or 4 of them distributed throughout your kitchen in locations that work well for you and your family. Perhaps a snack and drinks fridge on the kitchen’s periphery would work well to keep traffic down during meal preparation.
- The most accessible fridges are French door models with the fridge on one side and the freezer on the other, or the models with the freezer on the bottom. The side by side style enables you to easily place items on the shelves within your reach. The bottom freezer models are now equipped with easily accessible drawers. TIP: Make sure to have a counter surface of at least 15in/38cm beside your fridge to place items on as you remove them from the fridge, or vice versa.
- Raising up your dishwasher several inches will bring it up to a more comfortable height for many people. Similar to what you can do with your washer and dryer, the space underneath can be utilized as storage.
- The way you store your small appliances depends on how often you use them. The rarely used and lighter weight ones can easily be stored at the back of a large kitchen drawer or pull-out shelf. The more often used or heavier ones can be stored conveniently on the countertop, hidden in an appliance garage. To access an appliance simply open the ‘garage’ door and pull your appliance out a few inches to use. TIP: The appliance garage should also have a power source within it for greater safety and convenience.
- If you’re short of counter space or would like to be able to sit with your legs under the machine you might want to consider an appliance lift. Take a look at this one from Rev a Shelf.
Microwave or Toaster Oven
- The safest place for your microwave or toaster oven is on your countertop. This allows you to use the countertop surface to place the hot dish on and is easily accessible from a wheelchair or a seated position. As with a wall oven you don’t want to be raising your arms above shoulder height when reaching into the microwave. The maximum height up the wall should be 48in/122cm off the floor. Tip: If you choose to wall mount your microwave you can install a pull-out shelf below it to place hot dishes on.
- In order to make front-loading (top-loaders are not accessible) washing machines more accessible for taller and shorter members of the family, raising them up on a pedestal (or platform), is very helpful. By doing this you’ll also achieve some extra storage within the pedestal base. The base could have open shelves but a drawer would be more easily accessible. Many manufacturers sell pedestals that match your washer and dryer, or you can build one yourself. If you go the DIY route you can design it at a height that is just right for you and your family. The pedestal in the adjacent photo has been cleverly designed to accommodate laundry baskets.
If you are planning a new kitchen or laundry room, revisit your plans with your designer to ensure your appliances are installed at the best accessible height and location possible. By doing so, your kitchen will be more user friendly for all members of your family and will remain accessible to you in the future.