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Better Living Design in the Kitchen

Where you prepare food and eat should be accessible, comfortable and usable for everyone in the family. As the hub of most homes, the kitchen draws people together. Incorporating some simple design considerations into your kitchen can make a functional space today into the future.

gas range with front controls.

Cabinets and Countertops

  • Vary the heights of countertops for different tasks. Lower levels allow the ability to sit while preparing and cooking meals. The best height is 28 in. - 32 in.
  • Add pullout work surfaces such as counters, breadboards and cutting boards for access from a chair. Drawer storage with fully extendable glides is easier to access and organize.
  • Consider the heights of the wall cabinets and the individuals that need to reach them. You can situate some cabinets closer to the countertop than others for ease of access.
  • Incorporate bigger, deeper toe kicks and knee spaces under counters.
  • Install lazy Susans and pullout shelves.
  • Install D-shaped loop handles on cabinet doors and drawers.
  • Reduce glare by using low gloss finishes.
  • Use contrasting colors to enhance visibility for those with reduced vision.


  • Install a sink with a shallow (5 in. - 6 in. deep) basin for easy reach. Use a tub-bend pipe to move the drain closer to the rear of the under counter area to provide knee room.
  • Install the sink closer to the front edge of the counter.
  • Use a lever- or loop-handled kitchen faucet. Choose faucets with pull out or push-button sprayer controls or consider installing touch technology to eliminate handles altogether.
  • Prevent scalding by installing faucets with temperature controls. Insulate hot water pipes under the sink.


  • Shop for a side-by-side refrigerator and cooktop with front-mounted controls.
  • Place microwave drawer or wall oven 31 in. from the floor for easier access.
  • Install dishwasher drawer 6 in. to 8 in. above floor level and make it accessible from the right or left sides.
  • Place outlets no lower than 15 in. off the floor.
  • Locate light switches and thermostat controls 48 in. above the floor.

Design Tips for Every Room

  • A five-foot square of open area to allow a wheelchair user to make a 360 degree turnaround.
  • Low-pile carpeting or non-slip flooring.
  • Door openings should be 36 in. wide.
  • Swing-away hinges on doors to allow full use of the entire door frame width.