7 Ways to Design a Kitchen for Aging in Place

7 Ways to Design a Kitchen for Aging in Place

You love your home and can’t imagine living anywhere else as you age. Or, maybe you're welcoming an older relative soon and want to make their stay more comfortable and safe. Today’s accessibility features are both functional and offer great designs, making a universal kitchen remodel anything but a compromise on style.

How Do You Design a Kitchen for Aging in Place? 

1. Simplify the Layout

The kitchen that’s designed for accessibility should be easy to get around for anyone. L-shaped and I-shaped are best for getting around with ease. If a double island is already in your home or you’ve been eyeing this trend for a couple of years, you can still indulge. However, make sure your appliances are conveniently located.  

U-shaped kitchens offer a lot of storage, however, maneuvering around the U-shape can get tiresome when preparing a meal. If your kitchen is already U-shaped, there are changes you can make to simplify your layout. 

Open Your Floor Plan

Not only is this floor plan the most popular, with no sign of becoming outdated, but it’s also the best for accessibility. This floor plan is also great for bringing natural light throughout the space. 

The Right Appliances in the Right Places

Toting pots of water and dirty pans can become quite an inconvenience–even a major safety hazard. Work with your designer to place your sink either next to the stove or directly across from it if space is an issue. Your dishwasher should also be nearby and lifted higher from the floor than its typical placement at floor level. 

Also consider a side-swing oven door, a wall oven, a French door refrigerator, and a microwave built into the lower cabinets. As for the stove, look for an electric model that features a light indicating when the surface is hot along with an automatic shut-off.  


2. Great Lighting is Key

A well-lit kitchen is a safe kitchen. Include lighting under the upper cabinets as well as lighting under the lower cabinets so every area is lit after dark. Also, lower your light switches to no more than 48 inches from the floor so lights are accessible at wheelchair level. 

Natural Light

Natural light not only improves the beauty and health of your home, but the light it can offer during the day is unmatched. To increase natural light, consider reducing the number of upper cabinets during your kitchen remodel to make space for more windows.

Smart Lighting

Automatic sensor lighting that detects when you enter or exit the kitchen is convenient for the whole family. You can even connect it to your smart tablet or phone to turn off lights after you’ve already gone to bed or left the house! 


3. Countertops Designed for Everyone

Multiple Levels

Multi-level countertops create a space for every family member to prepare a meal together. Lower counters are also great for including the kids in cooking a family meal. 

Reduce Glare

To reduce glare, choose a matte finish countertop material. Leathered granite and quartz, matte-finished marble, and chopping blocks are excellent options. Matte finishes will also hide scratches more effectively than polished finishes.  

Rounded Corners

The corners of your countertops, particularly on the island, should be curved to reduce injuries. As with other features, this is also a useful design choice if there are children in the home. 


4. Install a Pull-Out Pantry

A walk-in pantry is great for extra storage that’s within reach. However, it can also be difficult for limited mobility and wheelchair access. Instead, opt for a pull-out pantry. Pull-out shelves and drawers tucked neatly behind a door, or set of French doors, is easily accessed by everyone in the home. 


5. Easy-to-Use Sinks

The sink is one of the most used features in the kitchen, making it very important for easy access. Choose a shallow sink that’s only 6”-8” deep. Many popular brands offer shallow sinks that are stylish and even in matte finishes to reduce glare, like Kohler and Kraus. 

Install your touchless faucet and water filtration system on the side of the sink instead of behind it. Pedal controls and an anti-scald feature provide safety and ultimate accessibility. Of course, clearance below the sink is integral for aging in place. You can even design accordion doors below the sink to conceal the opening when it’s not in use. 


6. Choose Drawers, Not Doors

Custom cabinets are preferred by more and more homeowners today, no matter their level of mobility. For the lower cabinets, choose deep drawers rather than doors. They’re ideal for seeing everything that’s stored below without crouching down on the floor. Loop handles are also a great easy-to-grab choice and are available in a lot of styles.  


7. Slip-Resistant Flooring

Flooring in the kitchen that resists glare and slipping is very important for an accessible home. Ceramic tiles with a stamped wood grain pattern are naturally more slip resistant than smooth tile. Stamped cement tiles are also trending and naturally slip-resistant, as long as they aren’t coated with a high-gloss finish. Cement tile is available in lots of patterns and any color, suiting nearly everyone’s design style. 


Hire a Universal Design Expert for Aging in Place

This comprehensive guide is a great start to making your home more comfortable and safe. Your next step is hiring the right team to see these ideas through while designing a space that’s also beautiful. 

Corvallis Custom Kitchens & Baths are kitchen experts that are focused on designing and building a kitchen that meets your unique needs and design style. Our design team will learn about your mobility needs and create a plan that’s perfectly tailored. To learn more about our experience and to start planning your Corvallis kitchen remodel, contact us for a consultation

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