Perhaps you are designing a kitchen for yourself and want to make sure that every element is accessible from you wheelchair. Or perhaps your elderly parent or in-law is soon to become a member of your household, and you want to do everything possible to make sure they are comfortable. When designing a kitchen with wheelchair accessibility in mind, there are a myriad of ways to build or renovate a kitchen so that it is wheelchair-friendly.
When building a new kitchen, you can opt to have your countertops built at a height of 34”, rather than the standard 36”. If you are renovating an existing kitchen to cater to a loved one, consider adding recessed areas to the cabinetry for access to the sink and a pull-out shelf for an accessible workspace. If you have a kitchen island, you can also consider adding on a lowered tabletop with room underneath for access. Just place chairs around the rest of the island, and everyone will have a place to sit, eat, and relax!
Low cabinets are easy to reach, but high cabinets can be troublesome. You can install cabinets and appliances, like your wall oven or microwave, at a lower position. If you prefer the style of a kitchen with high cabinets, then there is a solution for you. Motorized cabinets lower the cabinetry for access, and then return the cabinetry to its original position. This kitchen cabinetry renovation will keep your kitchen cabinetry at a comfortable height for non-wheelchair users and provide wheelchair users with a sense of independence and belonging. You can also switch out your cabinetry hardware with looped cabinet pulls rather than knobs. This prevents your loved one from having to make grasping or twisting motions that can be difficult if they suffer from arthritis and exacerbated by the height from a wheelchair.
As mentioned above, appliances can be installed in lower positions to accommodate wheelchair users. You can also keep in mind the vantage point from a wheelchair as you are buying appliances. A freezer bottom refrigerator makes freezer access much easier for a wheelchair user than a French door or freezer top refrigerator. Choose a cooktop that has controls on the front; this eliminates the need to reach over hot burners to access controls that are placed behind the cooktop. You or your loved one can also visit a kitchen showroom to personally try different styles of appliances, so you can figure out what styles work best for you.