As America gets older, aging in place is predicted to be a growing trend. Additionally, more families are opting to live in multi-generational homes. This means it’s important to perform a home safety check with special attention to universal design any time you’re thinking about remodeling.
Implementing universal design in the kitchen means placing extra emphasis on making everything usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone regardless of their age or ability. A little bit of planning ahead will make it easier to accommodate any unforeseen changes in the future.
Here is a sample check list for making the kitchen safer and more accessible to all family members:
- Note overall light level, task lighting
- Note sink and counter heights
- Note wall and floor storage shelf heights
- Are undersink hot water pipes covered?
- Is there under counter knee space?
- Is there a nearby surface to rest hot foods on when
removed from oven?
- Note stove control location (rear or front)
During the Remodel:
- Increase task lighting at sink, stove, etc.
- Install D-type cupboard door handles
- Install adjustable shelving to increase access to upper cabinets
- Increase access to under counter storage space by installing pull-out units
- Insulate hot water pipes if exposed
- Install hot-proof surface near oven
- Install switches and outlets at front of counter
- Install pressure-balanced, temperature-regulated, lever faucets
- Create sitting knee clearance under work sites by removing doors or shelves
- Improve color contrast of cabinet and counters surface edges for those with low vision
- Add tactile and color-contrasted controls for those with low vision
Pfister recommends consulting with an expert on universal design before you make any major change. Planning now will make any future decisions to age in place or welcome other generations that much easier.
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