Kitchen de­sign for life

The Daily Courier - - HOMES - SUB­MIT­TED BY JAN RUT­GERS Vestabul De­sign

Whether you are build­ing a new home or ren­o­vat­ing, the kitchen is typ­i­cally the most ex­pen­sive room in your home to com­plete. Be­cause of this, the kitchen is a room that is not of­ten ren­o­vated. You may paint the walls, change out the back­splash or add a new ap­pli­ance over the years, but a “to-the-studs” over­haul usu­ally oc­curs ev­ery twenty to thirty years. This makes Uni­ver­sal De­sign some­thing you should con­sider up­front in the plan­ning of your new kitchen.

Here are some sta­tis­tics to think about be­fore you start your kitchen plan­ning:

• His­tor­i­cal kitchen guide­lines were de­vel­oped for a 5'4 able-bod­ied, non-el­derly fe­male (who rep­re­sented 15 per cent of the North Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion).

• Men, women, and es­pe­cially chil­dren are now shar­ing in kitchen ac­tiv­i­ties.

• By 2020, over 20 per cent of our pop­u­la­tion will be over 65.

• The num­bers of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties are grow­ing.

When you look at these sta­tis­tics it starts to be­come clear that we should de­sign our kitchens for our life time not just our prime time.

The def­i­ni­tion of Uni­ver­sal Kitchen De­sign is “to de­sign so that most peo­ple can use the space re­gard­less of their level of abil­ity or their size.” Many will think that this con­cept only ap­plies to the el­derly or per­sons us­ing a wheel­chair but this def­i­ni­tion would ap­ply to a 6'4 male with a bad back, a 5'6 fe­male eight months preg­nant or a 4’2” 10-year-old mak­ing their own break­fast. Uni­ver­sal De­sign al­lows peo­ple to safely use the space and com­fort­ably age-in­place by mak­ing the most im­por­tant room in the home adapt­able to dif­fer­ent and chang­ing needs.

A good first step in your kitchen de­sign is to plan the work tri­an­gle. In large kitchens, this will limit need­less steps be­tween the sink, range and re­frig­er­a­tor mak­ing the work area more er­gonomic. Plan your main work tri­an­gle to be be­tween 12 feet to 18 feet in to­tal for all three sides. Mul­ti­ple work tri­an­gles or zones can also be de­signed into a sin­gle kitchen to al­low a va­ri­ety of peo­ple to use the space at the same time.

One way to make your lay­out ef­fi­cient for a life­time kitchen is to in­cor­po­rate long ex­panses of con­nected coun­ter­top along your main work tri­an­gle. This al­lows items to be “dragged” rather than car­ried be­tween cen­ters con­serv­ing en­ergy. Not hav­ing to carry items across the room can make a dif­fer­ence if you are on crutches from a sports in­jury or are us­ing a walker due to age­ing.

In the other work zones pro­vide a va­ri­ety of coun­ter­top heights. This makes it eas­ier to roll out pie crusts or mix cookie dough at a lower coun­ter­top height while chop­ping tends to be more ef­fi­cient at a stan­dard coun­ter­top height. By in­clud­ing a higher coun­ter­top you al­low tall cooks to help out more com­fort­ably.

Al­ways in­clude a va­ri­ety of flex­i­ble light­ing in your kitchen de­sign: nat­u­ral, gen­eral, task and dec­o­ra­tive. As we age we need brighter light­ing in our work ar­eas. Plan­ning proper light­ing, in the be­gin­ning, en­sures that you will al­ways have enough il­lu­mi­na­tion.

Colour schemes are im­por­tant. Lighter kitchen colour schemes are eas­ier on your eyes as you grow older. Dark colours ab­sorb light and can be fa­tigu­ing when work­ing in the space. Light colours re­flect light and help with over­all il­lu­mi­na­tion. Lighter doesn't nec­es­sar­ily mean all white. Com­bin­ing white with warm tones or choos­ing white coun­ters on medium toned cab­i­nets will give you the light re­flect­ing qual­i­ties needed.

Easy ac­ces­si­bil­ity of sup­plies is a must for a Life­time Kitchen. All base cab­i­nets should be full ex­ten­sion draw­ers or roll­out shelves. For up­per cab­i­netry in­clude a few cab­i­nets that ex­tend down to the coun­ter­top, this en­sures that every­one us­ing the space has ac­cess to crit­i­cal sup­plies. There are also op­tions for cab­i­net ac­ces­sories, such as drawer in­serts, condi­ment racks, magic cor­ners and pull down shelves that can be in­cluded in your de­sign to make the room as func­tional as pos­si­ble.

Work­ing with a pro­fes­sional Kitchen De­signer to in­cor­po­rate the Uni­ver­sal De­sign fea­tures will make your kitchen more en­joy­able to work in, with the added bonus of know­ing that you will be de­sign­ing a Life­time Kitchen for your­self or any­one who pur­chases your home in the fu­ture.

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