There have been incredible technology and design improvements in the kitchen that make accessories, lighting, and appliances more intuitive and easier to use. Smart design helps to make the space more accessible and safe for all users.
Larger appliances, such as dishwashers and refrigerators, can now be built into drawer spaces, seamlessly blending into the cabinetry and making it easy for users to access the items. Furthermore, an induction cooktop is both energy efficient and offers the added benefit of improved safety compared to conventional models. Induction stoves don’t feature open flames and the surface remains relatively neutral in temperature during cooking. Because the cooktop is shallow compared to other cooktop options, it creates space for access by users in wheelchairs.
Leaving empty space under countertops around the sink or cooking area is valuable for seated access and flexibility. A lower countertop and sink can make it easier to use by young children or someone who uses a wheelchair. Some manufacturers even make adjustable-height countertops that can be raised and lowered based on the individual who is using the space. In addition, roll-out shelves or drawers make it easier to see and reach items stored in lower cabinets. A pull-out counter underneath a built-in single wall oven makes the transfer of hot dishes or pans from the oven easier.
Hands-free or touch-activated faucets provide ease of use for many users, particularly individuals with arthritis. They can also be beneficial for small children who might have difficulty reaching the handle to turn the faucet on and off. An automatic shut-off feature that turns off the flow of water after a designated period of time can help conserve water.
While there are many universal design options available, guidelines have been established relating to clearance, size, reach range, and sight line. Moreover, each situation should be assessed separately and the designer must take into account the parameters of the space, budget, and client priorities. If all of these needs are met, the result can be beautiful, efficient spaces that improve the independence, safety, and convenience of all household members.