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Embracing universal design concepts when renovating has many benefits. In addition to maximizing accessibility for people of all abilities, universal design helps homeowners “age in place” with grace. Universal design means creating a living space that is accessible as possible regardless of one’s age, size, or mobility, and the changes are simpler and more intuitive than you think. If you’re considering a home renovation, it’s time to talk to your design team (designer, architect, contractor) about universal design principals.
Cabinets & Drawers
Universal design means thinking about how you will use things now and in the future. When it comes to looking for cabinets and drawers, consider the following:
- Pull-out drawers vs. lower cabinets: Pull-out drawers are often easier than bending over to reach into a cupboard if you have limited mobility. Upper-level cabinets can be difficult or impossible to reach for shorter family members, or those using wheelchairs.
- Hardware: Handles and pulls should have plenty of clearance for fingers to prevent catching and pinching.
- Clearance: If you use a wheelchair or a walker, creating appropriate clearances is important; a kitchen designer can help you maximize ease-of-use for everyone who uses your kitchen.
Layered and Interior Lighting
Great lighting makes a world of difference, especially in the kitchen. Lighting interior spaces—like cabinets and drawers—is a great way to add convenience to your kitchen. Layered lighting that includes task lighting is another way to increase accessibility and utilize universal design principals.
Shifting appliance placement to underneath countertops is another way to increase accessibility in the kitchen. From microwaves to warming drawers to refrigeration drawers, homeowners are using undercounter appliances to enhance accessibility and cooking capacity.