Most kitchens are designed for a "standard" person, with standard countertop heights and upper cabinet heights made for a person with average reaching abilities in a standing position. Unfortunately not many people are average, and those with reaching, bending, or grasping limitations are presented with many challenges in a "standard" kitchen design. Even short people have difficulty reaching the top shelves of cabinets.
Kitchen remodeling is expensive and many people are forced to make due with what they have. For these cases, there are some gadgets that make reaching and grasping things easier. One, called a reacher, opens and closes with a lever on the handle.
Another helpful item is a cutting board designed with suction cups to hold it in place on a countertop. It has two stainless steel nails sticking up to hold potatoes or apples in place while you cut or peel them, and a corner with sides to hold a slice of bread while you butter it.
When totally remodeling a kitchen there are many things you can do to increase accessibility. And that's what John Schatzlein, one of the consultants we worked with on our projects, was able to do with his own kitchen.
Before the remodel, John had standard kitchen cabinets that he could use as long as what he needed was pulled up front. The bottoms and corners of the cabinets were pretty banged up because there wasn't enough clearance for his wheelchair.
His old range had the controls in back so he had to reach over a hot burner to adjust them or turn them off. His refrigerator had a single wide-swinging door and the top freezer was out of his reach. John's wheels also tracked in a lot of dirt and rocks, and this was taking it's toll on the carpet in the hallway leading to the kitchen.
Out with all the avocado green! The Schatzlein's were in for quite a transformation as the contractors went to work installing new cabinets, countertops, flooring and appliances.
The new kitchen was designed to meet John's needs, but also to become more functional for the rest of the family.
The base cabinets are considered "barrier-free". They're made 2 inches lower, for a more comfortable countertop height, and have a larger toe kick which lets John get his wheelchair in closer to use the countertop and sink.
Base cabinets with drawers or shelves that pull out are helpful for anyone. They eliminate having to get down and reach for something in the back of the cabinet.
The new appliances are a big improvement. The side-by-side refrigerator doors are easier for John to open and maneuver around. The ice and water dispenser is great for anyone. The oven and microwave are stacked for convenience, and the dishwasher is raised for easier loading. The cooktop has controls in front so John is no longer reaching over hot burners.
There are no more wheel tracks leading into the kitchen either. The entire entryway and kitchen area has been replaced with new vinyl flooring in a pattern that will help hide the dirt that John does track in.