Everything at Hand Donna Riddell, a certified kitchen designer based in Victoria, British Columbia, reworked this condominium kitchen for a homeowner who uses a wheelchair. Riddell, a registered nurse before she became a designer, managed to add a pantry cabinet (not shown) and keep everything at hand while providing enough room for wheelchair maneuvering (a 60-in.-dia. circle usually is adequate). And she did it all without relocating the sink, the stove vent or any walls. A week after it was done, Riddell says, the homeowner triumphantly cooked for 24 people. 1. The sink and range have knee space below and a short, continuous run of countertop in between. The countertop here is lowered about 3 in. 2. Most of the upper cabinets are lowered about 8 in. While that shrinks space between them and the countertop, some wall cabinets, such as the ones at the range, are required by code to be standard height, giving the kitchen an attractive stepped effect. 3. The shallow sink has drains in back, leaving plenty of room for open knee space below. A removable panel covers the pipes, while a single-lever faucet, pullout spray and handy built-in soap dispenser make filling pots and cleaning up easier. 4. Electrical outlets located in front of the cooktop are easier to reach than the ones on the wall behind the counter. If children were living in this house, the outlets would have to be childproofed for safety. Staggered burners and front controls on the cooktop eliminate having to reach over hot pots. 5. Large Drawers in the base cabinets make pots and pans easy to get. What looks like a second bank of drawers back in the corner is really a set of open-sided pullout shelves with drawer fronts. All drawers have full-extension slides. Some cabinets are new, others are from the original kitchen. 6. New flooring was patched in under the knee spaces. Wood is easier to blend than most flooring materials. When matching isn't practical, floors can be extended using a contrasting color or pattern. Just be sure the knee-space flooring is seamless and level with the rest of the floor.
7. This fold-down eating bar doubles as a desktop for doing paperwork. The locking hinges on the bar don't require a lot of arm strength to secure the tabletop in the up position. You can install this kind of surface at any height on a wall, island or peninsula. 8. A side-by-side refrigerator is usually better for accessibility, but in a corner like this, the left-hand door would be hard to get around. The top-freezer unit used here is small enough for the freezer to be low and reachable. Both the freezer and refrigerator have pullout shelves for easy access.
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