By Janet Myers | April 09, 2019
The benefits of “aging in place” or universal design are meaningful, offering the freedom and dignity to live in your home for a lifetime. From raising a family, through busy midlife, and into your senior years, choosing an efficient layout, flooring material, cabinetry, countertops, and smart appliances and accessories will help you stay in your home as you age.
A 2018 AARP survey found that 3 out of 4 adults age 50 and over want to stay in their homes as they age. Future proofing your home now instead of struggling to meet later needs lets you incorporate universal design elements before you develop significant health or mobility issues.
If you’re preparing for a kitchen remodel, it’s worth considering designing an age-in-place kitchen. Here are some important tips to keep in mind as you do:
Photo By: Benvenuti and Stein
You don’t have to sacrifice your dream of a gourmet kitchen to incorporate universal design. Your goal is to create a layout that adds convenience and safety for everyone, regardless of age or ability. Building an island? Make sure it has at least 42-58 inches of maneuvering space around it. Another option is a second, lowered island countertop that works with a wheelchair. A smart trick is to put some outlets along the backsplash and in other convenient wall and island locations to avoid having to reach down to plug something in.
Photo By: Huseby Homes
Instead of tile that can be difficult to stand on for long periods of time, consider vinyl, wood, linoleum, or cork flooring, all of which are kinder to your back, legs, and hips. Seated work spaces help you get off your feet completely!
Photo By: Kasia Fiszer Photography
Think reachable kitchen storage like base drawers instead of cabinets. Pull-out shelves and lazy Susans make cabinet contents easier to reach, as does open shelving. Larger cabinet and drawer pulls are easier to grip than knobs. And glass doors let you quickly see where everything is stored. You can also install lighting under cabinets and counters to accommodate vision problems.
Photo By: Davenport
Strategic lighting also helps you see countertop edges more clearly. Another option: rounding the edges on countertops and open shelving. And while we're talking countertops, choose surfaces that are easy to clean and care for such as granite, quartz, or laminate.
Photo By: San Luis Kitchen Co.
Choose appliances that offer accessibility and safety. Look for models that are easier to use if you’re incapacitated or in a wheelchair. Double-door refrigerators, dishwasher drawers, a separate cooktop and lower built-in oven, and a countertop or lower built-in microwave, are all more accessible.
Photo By: Frank Shirley Architects
Pay close attention to the sink work station area. Choose a sink that is shallow enough to allow legroom and arm reach. Apron style or farmhouse sinks that are mounted on the front edge of the counter are one good choice and allow for easy accessibility and don't require you to reach forward. They’re not, however, ideal for wheelchair users, so some people opt to put a second sink in the island.
The Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines is a great reference for designing a kitchen space that's both accessible and beautiful. Properly executed universal design elements add value to your home today and eliminate future alterations for age-related needs.
If you're ready to start designing an age in place kitchen, the designers at Design Studio at David Gray Plumbing would love to show you how easy it is to incorporate these design elements and more into your own kitchen remodel plans. To learn more, contact us today online or call us at (904) 853-8580.