If you surveyed a group of aging homeowners and asked if they would rather live in a retirement home or a home, most would choose their own home for as long as possible. As we age, our bodies gradually decline, which affects eyesight, muscle mass, mobility, dexterity, and flexibility. This can make it more difficult to maneuver in a kitchen as it ages.
The average kitchen should last around 20 years, which is why it’s important to consider your needs today, but also plan and anticipate your future needs. It’s impossible to predict these needs, but here are some tips for setting up your kitchen so it can age.
There are many theories that professional kitchen designers use when planning space. A famous study was the 1912 String Study by efficiency expert Christine Frederick. Christine has pushed forward many kitchen innovations, a life’s work that is dedicated to the more efficient design of kitchen spaces and the standardization of kitchen counter and worktop heights.
Probably the best known kitchen planning theory is the Kitchen Work Triangle concept, which is based on the concept of identifying and planning the key areas of the kitchen, which include the sink, refrigerator and stove / hob. This theory is a bit antiquated as modern kitchens come in many shapes and a proper work triangle may not exist.
The Dynamic Space Concept by BLUM, published around 1997, is one of the modern planning concepts. Given our current kitchen and shopping habits, this is likely the setting most professional kitchen designers use today. The key elements are based on the planning for each of the five zones, which include flammable, non-flammable, cleaning, prep, and cooking.
This is probably one of the most overlooked planning considerations when zoning a kitchen. It is important to store your mainly used items at the correct height. This prevents stooping or even crawling in a base cabinet. If you keep mainly used items in the primarily accessible area of your kitchen, you will save yourself a lot of effort. Remember, you don’t want to store items too high or too low.
Zoning and microwave placement is a hot topic, a device that many have a love-hate relationship with. If accessibility is a concern, it is recommended that your microwave be placed at counter height to avoid stooping or reaching too high.
Here’s a fun fact, did you know that all microwaves are hinged on the left? Therefore, the placement is very important to ensure optimal opening and accessibility.
Improving accessibility should be a priority when planning a new kitchen. There are plenty of cabinet upgrades and accessories that can transform your kitchen from good to great. Let’s check out some of the most popular items.
ADD MORE DRAWERS: Adding as many drawers as possible or rolling out shelves in any kitchen is a fantastic way to improve accessibility in the long run. Because large drawers are perfect for storing heavy items such as bowls and plates. Large drawers are also great for storing plates rather than in closets. As people get older, reaching over their heads as they get older can be problematic.
FULLY EXTENDED DRAWER SLIDER: This may seem like an insignificant upgrade, but adding full extension drawer glides to your project can pay off in the long run. Fully extendable gliders can provide access up to 50 millimeters, which corresponds to an improvement of around 11%. This provides full and easy access to all items in the drawer and prevents important items from being out of sight.
CORNER DRAWERS: Corner drawers are the perfect way to add fully accessible storage space to any corner of a kitchen design. They offer plenty of storage space, look great, and should be considered when looking for a lazy susan alternative. Corner drawers aren’t perfect as they don’t use all of the space, which leads to some dead space. They make up ten times the accessibility and function. They also require a little planning from your professional kitchen designer to ensure clearances are maintained to avoid collisions and bumping into neighboring appliances.
CORNER EXTRACTIONS: Adding a pull-out accessory to a corner cabinet is a great way to increase accessibility in this challenging area. Popular items like the Magic Corner Pull Out, LeMans II Pull Out or The Wood Super Suzan are the most popular upgrades for corner cabinets. View all corner cabinet accessories here.
Planning your new kitchen for a 20 year life cycle is a good place to start. Plan each zone appropriately to put your essentials exactly where you need them and make sure everything is within easy reach. Make sure things are well organized and easy to find. Keep in mind that including these considerations can also help add value to your home, which can be attractive to home buyers. An accessible and functional kitchen makes for a comfortable and enjoyable space that you can enjoy over the years.
If you are in Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary, or Winnipeg and would like to speak to one of our professional kitchen designers, please get in touch. They have the experience to help you design a space taking Universal Design and Aging in Place into account. If you are outside of these areas, you can also contact an authorized Superior Cabinets dealer in Canada or the United States.