How do you create a handicap accessible kitchen that works for you? Focus on three things. First, focus on accessibility to storage spaces, pantries, and cabinets. Second, prioritize wheelchair mobility. Space in front of and next to appliances is essential. And thirdly, organize your workspace by coordinating utensils, take out shelves from garbage cans, frequently used dishes, etc.
Wheelchair accessible roll-up sinks and ovens are also advantageous for long-term independent living. Upgrading or just doing some home modifications may be just what you need to gain mobility, comfort, and security in your home.
Your home modification design should include ample floor space for mobility, access clearances for handicap accessible kitchen appliances, accessible cabinet doors, drawers, and shelves, and a functional “work triangle.” The work triangle refers to the comfortable workspace created between the stove, refrigerator, and sink. The sides of the triangle must be more than four feet and less than nine feet, with the outer limits of the triangle at a maximum of 26 feet.
When designing a spacious, open kitchen area is your design goal, it may be necessary to consider removing or replacing a wall or moving counters. If your current kitchen layout makes you feel like you’re restricted or constantly struggling with countertops and cabinets, you may want to consider remodeling. Often times, modifying one aspect of your kitchen can make the kitchen much easier to use. Changing the counter on an island or peninsula, or relocating an appliance, can make a difference.
Does your home have a “zero-crossing entry,” an entry point with a flat threshold that is easy to walk through? Each household should have at least one zero-crossing entry for grandchildren taking their first steps and for the visiting family member who may be using a cane or walker, or recovering from illness. Is it difficult to get groceries out of the car? Possibly a small ramp and cart would be useful between the garage and the kitchen to facilitate the entry of packages.
If you need help designing your kitchen, you will find a directory of Certified On-Site Aging Specialists (CAPS) on the NAHB website or on the Atlanta Home Modifications website on the Internet. Your CAPS specialist will schedule a home consultation to observe and evaluate your current living arrangement and help you create a more pleasant and accessible home.