There are times when we all need a little extra countertop space.

Maybe it’s because you’ve decided to do some holiday baking or you’re throwing a big party and need extra serving or preparation space.

Or perhaps you or a family member has a mobility issue or an injury (temporary or permanent) that requires the use of a wheelchair, or the need to sit down during meal preparation.

Or it might be simply a matter of two drastically different heights between the people who like to cook, requiring different height countertops for maximum comfort.

If you haven’t got the luxury of a huge kitchen with miles of countertop, don’t despair we’ll show you some clever ways of incorporating extra workspace into ‘average’ sized kitchens.


Where to add accessible countertop space


Pull-out shelf

#1) Pull-out shelf

These can be popped into several places around your kitchen and are particularly easy to combine over-top a drawer. Try to include more than one pull-out shelf and vary their width to give you greater options.TIP: Placing them under a wall oven will enable their use also as a transfer surface. Use your imagination when considering their placement.

#2) Fold-down countertop section

Add some extra workspace to the end of your kitchen countertop or island. Mount it at whatever height suits you or your family best. TIP: Finishing it in the same color as your cabinets will help it disappear.

Pull out table

#3) Roll-out table top

A similar idea to the pull-out shelf, but on a more substantial scale. It’s like a table hidden in your lower cabinets and can add a whole lot of extra countertop real estate.


#4) Wheeled cart

Keep a wheeled cart in your walk-in pantry or even in an adjoining room that can be brought into your kitchen at a moment’s notice when needed.

Mobile cabinet section

#5) Mobile lower-cabinet section

This is a section of lower cabinets that can be rolled out from under the countertop. It does double duty by creating an accessible open space at your kitchen countertop (when removed), as well as a handy cart, and extra work or serving surface. TIP: Topping it with a butcher block creates an instant cutting board.

#6) Kitchen table

This is an often overlooked accessible work surface. It’s already at the perfect seated height and is probably close at hand. A sturdy table will be more enjoyable and safer to work at.

Mini island

#7) Mini island

If you don’t have the space for a large island, don’t overlook the usefulness of a mini one. Purchase on line or make one yourself to fit your space to a T. Keep it moveable for greater flexibility.


What is an accessible countertop area?

To create an accessible kitchen you must have an area of countertop that is at the right height for somebody sitting at a chair or using a wheelchair. This area will have nothing underneath to bang knees on, it needs to be wide enough to comfortably work at, and requires a clear approach area for easy maneuvering.


What is required to achieve accessibility?

  • Maximum countertop height of 34in/86cm
  • Minimum width of open space below countertop of 30in/76cm
  • Minimum knee clearance height of 27in/69cm to bottom of countertop
  • Clear and open floor space of 30in/76cm wide x 48in/122cm deep for easy maneuvering of a wheelchair. Read about the turning circle to understand this better.


Action Plan

If you’re building or renovating take another look at your kitchen plans and see if you can include some of these ideas to increase your home’s accessibility factor.

If you’re not currently planning a new kitchen, do you think you could incorporate one or two of these ideas?