One of the more common trends that we have seen as a kitchen remodeling contractor is this: couples in their 40s and 50s designing kitchens today so the counters, lighting and layouts will continue to accommodate them when they’re in their 70s and 80s. Even if you don’t necessarily plan on being in your current home forever, the reasons behind this trend are solid – and worth considering as part of your own kitchen remodeling project. Here are some of the features that our clients have been asking for.
For starters, the features that make the kitchen friendly to people who may have disabilities or mobility issues when they’re older also make the kitchen friendlier to the whole family today. Kitchen counters of variable heights that might one day accommodate a cook in a wheelchair, for instance, are also the perfect height for adults of different heights and for inviting children to help in the kitchen. Activities like kneading bread and chopping are also easier with counter heights of 30” rather than the standard 36”.
Lighting is another factor to consider. The more natural light you can bring into the kitchen, the better. Aging eyes need far more light to see well, and today’s cooks can enjoy a sunshine-filled kitchen. In addition to windows, skylights, sola tubes and other sources of daylight, a forward-looking kitchen remodel should also include a variety of lighting: ambient sources for general lighting and brighter, more focused lighting for tasks. Clerestory windows are also a great way to bring in natural light and give you privacy at the same time.
Contrast is another key to safety. As our eyesight dims, it can be harder to see where the floor ends and cabinets, doorways or even stairs begin. By looking ahead now, you can use colors and textures to create strong contrasts – and extremely handsome designs as well!
Drawers and pull outs are much easier to maneuver for people with mobility issues or if they are in a wheelchair. Even appliances offer drawer options as is seen in this project that we did for a client who was moving in with her aging father. Both the Fisher & Paykel dishwasher (left) and the GE Monogram refrigerator (right) have drawers instead of doors.
We would suggest that while islands can be a great opportunity for additional storage and counter space – they can also be problematic, especially if you have a cook who is in a wheelchair. Leaving an open floor plan allows for easy access to all kitchen needs – no islands or obstructions to have to navigate around.
Upper cabinets pose difficulty not only for those with mobility issues but also for kids. Lower cabinets = easy access. No more excuses for not being able to empty the dishwasher or to put things away after they are used!
Remember that today’s kitchen remodeling contractors have access to an amazing array of fixtures, finishes, products and materials. So a kitchen that’s designed for “forever” can still look stylish – and gorgeous – today. For more ideas on accessible design you can read more of our blog posts on the subject.