|Our thanks to Steve and Lori Dormann for their permission to repost this article from their S& D Renovations March 2021 newsletter.
One of the most important rooms in our homes is the kitchen. It’s a room where we can spend hours cooking and baking, entertaining friends and family or even just relaxing with a cup of coffee while reading in the morning or watching television. Having an attractive, functional kitchen that also accommodates aging-in-place needs will be sure to provide you with many years of enjoyment.
Today’s Americans are forward-thinkers and are renovating their homes with aging-in-place in mind—both for themselves and for houseguests, like a parent or older relative. There are many innovative yet simple ways you can revolutionize your kitchen design to gain safety and maneuverability without sacrificing style.
Choosing the Right Flooring
With aging comes the increased risk of injuries and tripping. When reviewing your flooring options, keep these factors in mind:
- Select kitchen flooring that’s non-glare, as they are less visually-distracting than shiny ones that could cause someone to trip.
- Choose flooring materials that offer maximum grip. Vinyl and porcelain are two popular slip-resistant flooring options, as is luxury vinyl flooring (LVF). LVF is known to be more slip-resistant and comes in an array of designs and hues.
- Kitchens typically have a lot of traffic. Therefore, make sure your desired flooring is easy to clean and maintain.
- Avoid accessorizing your flooring with products that pose a trip hazard, like throw rugs and padded carpets.
Incorporate Proper Lighting
To ensure safety when executing tasks in your kitchen, your kitchen needs to be well-lit. When possible, always opt for more lighting than less. Lighting should not be an after-thought. It should be designed, just like the rest of the kitchen.
Opt for easy-to-use and accessible light switches and position them near the kitchen entrance within arm’s reach. The placement should also ensure users can switch on the light without bumping into sharp edges and appliances. You may consider installing automatic light switches or rocker-type light switches. Windows will allow natural light to stream into your kitchen. If privacy is a concern, you can install blinds that still allow in soft natural light without compromising privacy.
Make Cabinets More Accessible
Cabinets should be easy to reach by all, and today, there are many cabinet storage options that aid in accessibility—no matter the age of the user. There is no need to get down on your hands and knees or stretch on your tippy-toes to reach.
For tall upper cabinets, a pullout step can be added. This step is installed on the underside of the base cabinets and eliminates the need to pull out the stepstool from the pantry. Additionally, pull-down shelves are a great design feature that give those upper cabinets enhanced maneuverability and accessibility.
Pull-out organizers designed for base cabinets, offer a variety of storage options. Blind corner optimizers, like the one pictured, maximize the corner cabinet storage space and provide easy accessibility.
In aging-in-place kitchen design, we often avoid installing cabinets right above the stove. Leaning over a hot surface increases the risk of injury.
Choosing the Right Handles
As we age, the functionality of our hands deteriorates. When it comes to cabinet pulls and handles, choose D-shaped ones that provide a better grip. Same with selecting appliances. The handles on your oven and dishwasher should also be designed specifically for those who may not be able to firmly grasp with their hands.
Consider Your Countertop Options
For aging-in-place, it is much more than simply choosing a countertop. The design of the kitchen layout for conducting kitchen tasks safely, as well as the height of the countertops, are also a consideration.
One way to increase accessibility in your kitchen is by designing it with varying counter heights. This allows family members who may need to sit, such as the elderly or pregnant, to easily prepare meals while also giving young children a place to stand and “help” at your side. The variety of height also adds depth and aesthetic appeal to the room. In order for these counters to be easy-to-clean, they should be made from solid surface material.
Kitchens are the heart of the home, but often more in the sense that they’re a central gathering space. While it’s important to think about your kitchen design now, renovations should also consider what you’ll need for years to come. That way, no matter how much time passes and what changes occur in your life, you can still cook with ease and love every minute of it.
Call S&D Renovations at (610) 366-8828 so we can learn more about your specific needs and make a plan together.
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