A universally designed kitchen is defined as a comfortable and safe kitchen space for all family members. It considers all of the design elements of a kitchen space and analyzes them to ensure maximum functionality for people of all ages and abilities.
When considering a kitchen space, it is important to ask yourself many questions regarding the usability of the space. Do you have a disability that affects the way you prepare food? Is there more than one cook in the kitchen at a time? Is a caregiver doing the majority of the cooking? Are there children that need to be monitored while meals are being prepared? By analyzing these important factors, you will be able to customize your kitchen to best fit the needs of everyone in your household.
An efficient layout is a key component of a universal designed kitchen. Most interior and kitchen designers focus on the concept of the “work triangle” which is formed by the locations of the sink, stove and refrigerator. Realistically, the work space should include all working areas such as the dishwasher and garbage disposal, but this gives a great starting point to branch from. Keeping the work triangle compact is a great way to add efficiency, but make sure you account for those who require mobility aids. Wheelchairs and power scooters require a minimum clear turning space of 60 inches in diameter. It is also important to consider distance between counters and appliances. Ensure that you have an appropriate passage distance. To help define your family’s work triangle, analyze your daily routine and choose the elements you utilize the most. Defining the way your family uses the kitchen will help you adapt a layout that fits your needs.
Minimal effort and high adaptability are important principles to consider. Keeping dishes and glasses near the dishwasher or baking supplies near a work surface or the oven are just two of many examples of ways that you can adapt your kitchen to be more practically efficient.
Lifestyle and ability changes can be gradual or quite sudden. By properly planning ahead, you can ensure the transition will be as smooth as possible for the individual. Maximum adaptability can be achieved in a kitchen by considering adjustable height counter tops for example. Other ways to adapt your kitchen include considering installing drawers rather than under the counter cabinets or adjustable shelving in cupboards.
Everyone appreciates a safe, efficient, and spacious kitchen. Small changes and considerations made today can potentially have a large impact for you or someone in your household in the future.
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