15 ways to use accessible design in your kitchen

Is your kitchen letting you down?

Is it fighting you at every turn?

Bring the harmony back into this relationship.

This busy space is often shared by people who may be of very different heights, abilities and ages. But it is possible to keep everybody happy and functioning well in the hub of your home.

Top  15 Kitchen Design Tips

1. Clear floor space (circle) of 60in/1.5m between all bottom cabinets (or around an island). This will give you enough space for turning and maneuvering a wheelchair.
2. Lowered work surface with roll-under space, to fit a chair or wheelchair. This could be a pull-out cutting board or even a kitchen table. TIP: Aim for a roll-under space 30-32in/76-81cm wide.
3. Single lever faucet with a water-spray hose. The hose is great for filling large pots or buckets in situ without having to lift them up and out of a sink.
4. Pull-out or roll-out shelves in bottom cabinets. This will allow you to see the contents of your cabinets much more easily. TIP: your existing fixed shelves can easily be retrofitted.
5. Good lighting. Include bright general overhead lighting and task lighting under upper cabinets. Especially in the areas where you work the most. Mount receptacles under upper cabinets for easy access.
6. D-style hardware for cabinet doors and drawers. Avoid knobs as they can be difficult to grasp.
7. Refrigerator with freezer on bottom. Make sure the door opens on the appropriate side, or consider a side-by-side model if you have the space.
8. Microwave or toaster-oven at countertop level or at a maximum height of 48in/123cm.
9. Upper cabinets with drop-down shelves. The interior shelves hinge down for easy access. Or consider installing shelves along the backsplash.

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10. Lowered sink with roll-under space. This sink should be shallow to allow for knee-space and have the drain at the back. TIP: the roll-under space should be at least 30in/76cm wide and could be height adjustable.
11. High tech faucet. These can be touch or touchless and some even indicate the water temperature with colored lights.
12. Lowered height cooktop with roll-under space. Ensure the element controls are on the front or side to avoid reaching over hot pots. This surface could be height adjustable.
13. Faucet at the cooktop. To fill heavy pots directly on the cooktop.
14. Lower upper cabinets. Install them at a height of 12-15in/30-38cm above countertop. TIP: It might not be necessary to lower all upper cabinets, depending on your storage situation. Install glass doors or remove doors completely for easy viewing and access.
15. Elevate the dishwasher. Raising it by only a drawer height increases its accessibility for everybody.

Read more about accessible kitchen cabinets (4 part series).

Plan now for the future

Many of the above suggestions can be retrofitted into an existing kitchen without too much disruption. It is of course much easier and less expensive to incorporate accessibility features in the planning stage before you start building a new home or renovating.

So, take your time in the planning stages now to consider your current requirements and to plan for your future needs.

The upgrades and changes you make will be money well spent as kitchen renovations traditionally have a high return on investment.

With accessible design principles at the core of your new kitchen you will wish you had renovated years ago.

Read about how you can redesign your bathroom so it works for you.

Read about accessible entrances.