|As you grow older or welcome new people into your life, your needs and limitations can change. By designing a house that is both accessible and accommodating to people with a diverse range of ages and abilities, you can make sure that everyone who comes to your home will feel safe and comfortable.One of the most important rooms in an accessible house is the kitchen. To ensure your kitchen is safe, comfortable and easy for everyone to use, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers the following tips on how to design a kitchen that is accessible, functional and flexible for all your friends and family:
- First, take a look at your floor plan, and ask yourself if the location of your kitchen makes sense. Is it near the primary entrance to the home? Close to the dining room? Where are appliances and workspaces located?
- Next, make sure your kitchen is large enough to allow everyone to move around and use all the appliances. Someone who uses a wheelchair or walker, for example, will generally need at least 1,500 x 1,500 mm (59 x 59 inches) of space to turn around comfortably, as well as about 750 x 1,200 mm (29.5 x 47 inches) of manoeuvring space in front of work areas. For people who use power wheelchairs or scooters, the minimum manoeuvring space should be at least 1,800 x 1,800 mm (71 x 71 inches).
- At every stage of your renovation or construction, be sure to put safety first. Avoid small mats or rugs, which could become tripping hazards for children or people with mobility issues. Put a notice board in the kitchen where you can post notes for other family members, especially if anyone in your house is dealing with memory loss. If this is the case, consider installing anoverride switch that must be activated before using an appliance or outlet in the kitchen.
- Make sure your kitchen has adequate lighting to allow people with vision loss to see more easily. To accommodate people of different heights and abilities, consider including features like storage options that are set at a variety of heights, hands-free or lever faucets, open shelving, cupboards that pull down or open a full 180 degrees, and perhaps a place to sit down or a workstation that is set at a different height.
- When buying new appliances, floors or countertops, look for surface finishes that will be easier to clean and maintain over the long run. For example, glass cooktops tend to be easier to clean, and while stainless steel appliances may look nice, they can also show fingerprints and may require specialized cleaning products.
- If someone who is deaf or hearing impaired will be using your kitchen, select appliances and smoke alarms that give visual as well as audible signals. Plus, choose soft, absorbent surfaces such as cork flooring, which can help keep noise levels in the kitchen to a minimum.
- If there are children, people with Alzheimer’s, people who are forgetful or people who have developmental disabilities in your home, give careful consideration to where and how you store your cleaning products, as well as any other potentially dangerous or toxic products and materials.
For a free copy of the “About Your House” fact sheet Accessible Housing by Design: Kitchens or for information on any of the other guides, fact sheets and check lists in CMHC’s Accessible Housing by Designseries, visit: www.cmhc.ca.