Nearly everything in this Blue Heron Hills, New York, home—including the kitchen—is totally accessible to the disabled. Yet no one in the family who bought it has any disabilities. It just goes to show that a home can be accessible and attractive at the same time. For their 1995 "Homearama" show home, Nothnagle Realtors and builders Whitney East decided to construct a barrier-free home. They consulted with the Rochester Rehabilitation Center and Accessibility Designs and Management Inc., which brought in Rochester-based Jean Shanker to do the kitchen design. "In two weeks, 35,000 people went through the home," notes Shanker, "and I would say that about 98 percent of them did not pick up on the fact that there was something special about the kitchen." 1. Both sink and cooktop are near each other and at the same level, making it easy to move pots back and forth between the them. The solid-surface countertop withstands hot pots better than plastic laminate does, while its 45-degree bend gives added space for two to work. The single-lever, pullout faucet also makes filling and cleaning pots easier. 2. A standard, 36-in. high countertop to the right of the sink is comfortable for tasks like chopping. The lower, 34-in. counter makes it easier for shorter family members to reach into the sink and over pots on the stove. 3. Flooring extends under the sink and the cabinet doors swing open and slide into pockets, making the sink easier to use for a person in a wheelchair or someone sitting on a stool. 4. The base cabinet at the cooktop has removable doors and shelves for creating knee space if needed. Deep drawers to the right provide easy-access storage for pots, pans and cooking utensils. 5. All wall cabinets are hung lower than usual so that, for most people, one more shelf is reachable in each. Varied depths and heights keep the cabinets from looming over the counter. 6. Wide pulls with plenty of finger space are used on all drawers; they are much easier to grab than knobs for someone with limited strength or dexterity. 7. Contrasting countertop edge molding boosts safety by making the countertop easier to see, especially in the dark. The rounded corners of the molding are safe to grab or lean on.
Ask TOH users about Small Kitchens

Contribute to This Story Below