Many aging Americans, like the Baby Boomer generation (those between 56-76 years old), desire to remain independent in their own homes. This desire can present a challenge, as millions of Americans find themselves needing wheelchairs or walkers while their current living situation may not be adapted for limited mobility or other disabilities. Additionally, future limitations in mobility can be difficult to anticipate.
One area of the home that is often overlooked but important to consider is the outdoor entertaining space and the outdoor kitchen. To help design or remodel your kitchen to age safely and comfortably in your home, the Trex Outdoor Kitchens line of cabinetry offers 34-inch high ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant stainless steel cabinetry, including base cabinets, workspaces, and sinks. ADA guidelines have specific requirements that allow access to people with disabilities and those in wheelchairs.
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry also provides guidelines for universal designs for homeowners that are suitable for an aging generation. These guidelines extend to both your indoor and outdoor living space and are designed to improve safety and accessibility for homes through remodeling practices.
National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Guidelines
Understand current needs and anticipate future needs
It is important to understand both your current and possible future needs. Identify how well you are living in your current home, consider current (if any) health concerns, and if you anticipate any future health issues. Finally, determine how you can remodel your home to adapt to these considerations to make your home safer and easier to navigate.
Identify mobility changes
Declines in mobility can be tough to predict, but it is a good idea to make changes to your indoor and outdoor living arrangements in case a wheelchair or walker is needed. Here are some recommendations:
– Doorways. Widening doorways to 32-36 inches will provide enough room for walkers and wheelchairs.
– Hallways. Expanding hallway widths to 36-42 inches and providing plenty of lighting will improve both safety and navigation.
– Clear space. Clear space (30 by 48 inches) is important in the kitchen design, especially in front of appliances.
Kitchen updates, including Outdoor Kitchens
As mentioned, the ADA regulations for kitchens pose a restriction on cabinet and counter heights, as well as guidelines for appliances. Following these guidelines will improve the function of your kitchen. Some considerations include:
– Layouts. Passthrough kitchens must have two entries and 40 inches of clearance between two opposing rows of cabinets, while U shaped kitchens should have 60 inches of clearance.
– Work surface. To factor in a wheelchair armrest (29 inches), countertop work surfaces should be between 28-34 inches. As mentioned, the Trex Outdoor Kitchens line of ADA compliant cabinetry is suitable for this purpose.
– Appliances and sinks. Ovens and microwaves should be placed at appropriate heights, and the refrigerator should be a side-by-side model or have a drawer unit. Sinks and cooktops should remain unobstructed and have a recessed area underneath for wheelchair access. Push button controls, a side lift handle for grill lids, and front-mounted cooktop controls are all options that will offer safety and ease of access.
– Cleaning and maintenance. One important consideration, especially related to mobility restrictions, is the frequency of required cleaning of kitchen cabinets. Whether indoors or outdoors, powder coated stainless steel is virtually maintenance-free. The Trex Outdoor Kitchens line offers a vibrant color palette and realistic wood grain finishes that will enhance the beauty of your kitchen remodel and reduce maintenance requirements.
Consider enhancing your outdoor kitchen by following these guidelines that will allow you or a loved one to age in place at home. Call our inside sales team to discuss our Trex Outdoor Kitchens line of cabinetry and design or remodel your ADA compliant kitchen today!