Good kitchen design makes working in the kitchen easier and more pleasant for everyone. For those who want to age in place however, good kitchen design is an integral part of maintaining independence. So what features should you consider when planning a kitchen that will optimize your ability to use the space comfortably as you age.
1. Allow 4’ of floor space between base cabinets and a kitchen island for ease of
2. Place your upper cabinets 48” above the floor and lower cabinets 6” above the floor.
This will limit the stretching and bending needed to reach dishes and pots and pans.
3. Install cabinets with adjustable upper shelves. Also available are motorized
cabinets that move up and down with the push of a button, or motorized shelves that
can be installed into your existing cabinets.
4. Lower cabinets should have slide out shelves and full extension drawers that pull out
further than normal drawers.
5. Install easy to grip knobs or pulls
6. Provide for adjustable cabinetry and removable base cabinets
1. Select colored or patterned borders at counter edges to provide visual orientation to
workspaces; choose counter edges that are rounded rather than squared
2. Vary the height of your counter tops. Consider a counter that is 28”-32” high (table
height) for someone who wants to sit while cooking, preparing food or washing dishes.
3. Allow for open, under counter seated work areas, minimally 30” wide
4. Select counter top materials that are smooth enough so you can slide heavy pots and
are heat resistant. Install a pull out shelf under the counter adjacent to the stove
or microwave so there is a place to put down hot dishes or pans.
5. Design sufficient counter space for placing dishes adjacent to or opposite all appliances.
1. Purchase a side-by-side or drawer refrigerator. These refrigerators are easier to
access for those who use a wheelchair since the chair can be pulled up closer to the
shelves. Refrigerators with adjustable shelves also easily accommodate a number of
physical disabilities. Lower shelves are easier for those with difficulty lifting their
arms and higher shelves work well for those who have trouble bending.
2. Choose a cook top with either front or side controls and with burners that aren’t set
in a straight line. This will allow you to adjust a control or turn on another burner
without having to reach across a hot stovetop. Check to make sure the controls are
easy to read.
3. Mount a wall oven so you don’t have to bend. If you select a model with a door that
swings to the side rather than pulls down you will avoid having to lean across a hot
door when taking items from the oven.
4. Microwave ovens should be placed either at counter height, in the wall, or in drawers.
5. Look for the newest trends in pull out dishwashers. These appliances are fit into
drawers that pull out just like all the other drawers in base cabinets. If you prefer
a standard dishwasher, install it 8” off the floor to minimize bending.