Most of us buy homes with the thought that that they will shelter us all through our lifetime. When it comes to interiors however, especially designing kitchens, we take it no more than a couple of years at a time. Have you ever thought how you will manage as you age?
While the present is the only thing that may entice us, it is important to give a thought to what the future holds too. There may be elderly parents moving in with us, or we may use the home well into our own oldage. Interiors, especially kitchens must be designed keeping all the little aspects in mind.
Here are 6 ways that we can go about age-proofing our kitchens;
STANDARD COUNTER DEPTH CABINETS
Age-proofing your kitchen entails keeping it simple, basic and elegant. Complicating the design by adding refrigerator panels and fancy cabinet legs may enhance the look, but make it very impractical to work with. As we age, we are more prone to bump elbows, knees and ankles into cabinets and furniture with odd angles and that jut out.
Blind corner cabinets provide exceptional storage, but often become wasted space or dumping ground for unused cutlery and food equipment. Bending down to retrieve something or performing the bend-reach-get motion all the time isn’t convenient and gets even more difficult as we age. Instead, corner cabinets outfitted with carousel storage, cabinet organizers or multiple drawers eliminate the need for excessive work and rummaging. While cabinet organizers come in different designs and materials, multi-drawer base or even a lazy susan is just as convenient. Replicating this in wall cabinets also ensures that every inch of the kitchen stirage is fully optimized.
DRAWERS OVER CABINETS
Drawers are the better option compared to door cabinets, since everything is well organised and all the utensils and cutlery can be displayed at once. Cabinets with doors force us to get on our knees and peer all over, which becomes inconvenient for aged limbs and weak knees. Few large drawers are better than many smaller ones. Those wider than 30-35 inches can accommodate plenty of pots and pans.
With a separate food storage space or pantry slowly becoming an essential part of most modern modular kitchens, an important criteria to consider is the way it is designed. Pullout pantries are very convenient for homeowners of all ages. They allow everything to be displayed and chosen at a glance, are convenient, grant easy access to cans and cereal boxes, and also cause less strain on the back and legs. Besides food, potable appliances like grinders, cookers and toasters can be stored in such pantries.
Although the kitchen occupies a limited amount of space, there should be sufficient clearance between adjacent walls and kitchen areas. Called clearance space, the standard distance between cabinets, appliances and walls must be 36 inches, enough for comfortably walking through as well as providing adequate access to doors and drawers.
For wheelchair access, an additional 10 inches should be set aside. Galley kitchens must have a ‘passing through’ space of atleast 40 inches between opposing structures, whereas U-shaped kitchens must have atleast 60 inches of clearance space between two opposing structures.
SINK & HOB IN CLOSE PROXIMITY
An often repeated task that we don’t quite consider until it becomes too difficult to handle, is the moving of heavy pots and pans between the sink and stove. As we age, arms and back feel the strain of heavy lifting, and spilling of food or water becomes a slipping hazard of its own.
Reducing the distance between these two work areas ensures that pots aren’t held longer than is necessary, as well as makes cooking convenient. Placing a small amount of countertop space between the two minimizes the inconvenience even further since there is space to set things down.
If placing the sink and cooktop side by side doesn’t work because of the kitchen design or layout, place the sink directly opposite the stove so that the move requires just 180 degrees of manoeuvre. Parallel kitchens or galley style layout works best for this set up.
There are several other ways to make the kitchen convenient for our use. Apart from the beauty and overall look, as homeowners we must not ignore convenience as the years pass. A great kitchen isn’t just an attractive one, but a functional one too.