Accessible can still mean awesome in the kitchen
By Gary Baker
It’s not an issue that many independent kitchen companies seem to showcase, but with new technologies making it easier for people with physical impairments or disabilities to be more independent in their homes, kitchens inevitably need to roll with the times too.
If you go to your local independent kitchen design company with special requirements or requests, they’re bound to be able to help. That’s the beauty of them, a bespoke design made to measure; a step away from ready to fit kitchens that may not always work for you. We’ve collected our top tips for your kitchen design, should you need to have a more inclusive kitchen in your home:
Easy to clean, stylish materials
Maintenance and care of your kitchen are an obvious consideration to make for any kitchen, but easy to clean materials would be an added benefit for those with mobility or visual impairments. And just because you choose practical, doesn’t mean you can’t choose great style too.
When interior designer Philip Dowse was creating a kitchen for U21 England rugby player Matt Hampson, sadly injured in training in 2005 and now using a wheelchair, he chose a combination of Parapan and Corian for its looks as well as its low maintenance qualities and durability. Using high gloss deeper colours with white worktops gives an exciting and contemporary feel with huge curves allowing space for Matt’s wheelchair. The nonporous nature of Corian means the surfaces are easy to clean and stain resistant too.
Pull out shelves and drawers
These can work well for people with physical impairments that prevent them from bending down to cupboards, wheelchairs or that struggle to carry objects short distances. A strategically placed pullout shelf underneath an oven might be useful for resting cooking trays or utensils and are an excellent addition for those on a budget.
Pullout storage drawers have been popular for some time and can be made in a variety of shapes and sizes with multiple layers. Smaller concealed pullout drawers might be more suitable for those that can only handle a small amount of weight.
Lowered hob and sink access
Lower worktops, especially for hob and sink access, could be useful for those that are unable to stand for long periods or wheelchair users. Combining this with front controlled, lower mounted appliances, shallow sinks and pullout tap hoses means that you can sit while cooking or cleaning, though this would need to be carefully risk assessed before deciding on a final design.
Installing a Rise and Fall worktop around your sink will also allow you to adjust the height of your surface easily when you need it.
Lighting might need to be positioned lower too to help wheelchair users sitting low down to see their surfaces properly. A great method is illuminated shelves. This could also help those with visual impairments find the objects they need, as picking them out will be easier.
A really stylish addition to your kitchen, shelves lit with LEDs are a longlasting, energy saving and seamless way to bring light to the room as materials such as Corian can be backlit so that the bulbs are invisible behind or strip lighting can be installed underneath.
The translucent quality of Corian means that you can even use coloured light to bring that extra wow factor to your kitchen.