Friday, May 14, 2010

Part II

Continuing with our informational series on home improvements for a more livable, supportive home environment.

The underlying premise continues to be: having your home adapted to you rather than you having to adapt to your home. As this is an "age-in-place journal", the information is targeted to Seniors wishing to live out their years in their current home. However, with the above stated direction, living spaces can be easily used, enjoyed by everyone of all ages, of all physical capabilities.

It should also be mentioned that this information should be applied to new homes as well.

We have been directing out initial attention to the kitchen and asking some "whys". We have established the fact that in reality there is no established paradigm. You can have your kitchen assembled any way you want and need it to be.

Now we are going to get more specific.

Those counter tops, cabinet heights; can (should) be set at different heights (four such actually) depending on the use.
  • 30" height. Great for seated persons, i.e.; wheelchairs. Great for kids snack/home work areas. Sinks for person under 5'-8".
  • 36" height. The traditional height for standard work spaces.
  • 40" height. Great for raising that dishwasher. Be amazed what the extra height does for that bending/lifting (45" even better!!). Excellent for under-counter trash and recycle bins. Also allows for deep roll-out drawers.
  • 45" height. For serving and eating counters. Works well for extended height base cabinets allowing for additional shelf depth for those cooking pots and specialty appliances.

That oven? Oh yes; that oven. What height should that be? First, determine who is most likely to be the primary user. The center of the oven should be at the height of their horizontally out stretched arms. Lifting/placing should not vary from 6 to 12 inches up or down. Placing the bottom of the oven at 36" height and having a roll-out table underneath at 30" greatly increases the working space and provides support for placing/removing.

What's with the oven-over-oven, double oven bit? Certainly can't meet the height specification. I'm 6'-5", I would have a difficult time with the upper unit that high. With today's combination ovens: conventional, convection, radiant all in one unit; is the double oven really needed. And esp. with micro-waves that can double as ovens. If determined that two units are needed, then place them side-by-side vs. above/below.

Consider side-opening units rather than drop-down unless you are used to using the doorway as a working shelf (see above comment). Side-opening units are much easier to access, esp. from a seated position. Even from standing position one doesn't have to reach over the oven front.

Grouping the cabinets together from floor to ceiling (or there about) works very well. Thank you very much!! These areas are great for roll-out pantries and bulk storage.

An other roll-out; how about having a step roll out from under the cabinet in the toe-kick space for getting to those "out-of-reach" areas. This is much safer than those fold-up step stools.

Previously in Part I as one of the "whys"...wall cabinets at a certain height above the counter. Don't have to be. Nothing says you can't set them right on the counter. There are "hutch type" cabinets for just this purpose.

Granted, in some areas you do need about 18" of clearance for work space, but that does not have to apply every where.

In the cabinets that are above the counter, consider drop-down, spring loaded shelf inserts. These are easy to grasp and lower, lock into place. Release the lock and they slowly return on their own back into the cabinet!! What will "they" think of next??!! about motorized cabinets that raise/lower at the touch of a button!! Great for wall units and sink faces. Easy access and can be set at any one's workable height, sitting or standing. No bending, stretching...and no step stool required. Now there you go!!!!

A note on the refrigerator. If you are set on having cabinets above, pull them out flush with the face of the refrig., and you can use shallow depth cabinets. Consider using a "built-in" style unit. These are flush with the line of the cabinets. Then can use full depth cabinets. Makes getting to the overheads easier as well as provides more floor space. Consider side-by-side units vs. over/under compartments.

To be comprehensive, need to at least mention faucets and electrical outlets. Faucets should be of the single lever style so they are functional for everyone. If it is difficult for some one to reach faucets mounted on the rear of the sink, they can be made to operate from the face of the cabinets.

Electrical outlets do not have to be only located on the wall. These can also be mounted on the face of the cabinets. Again, makes them accessible to everyone.

There are more things we can discuss about the kitchen, but enough for now.....Well, do, however, need to at east mention lighting, and proper lighting in a kitchen IS NOT a ceiling full of recessed can spite of what you hear,see. 1. Such does NOT do any thing for "workability" in the kitchen. 2. Just adds clutter, cost, NO benefit. 3. They are just down right tacky and UGLY.

As lighting is a whole subject in its self, especially kitchen lighting, guess have to leave that for up-coming topic. Suffice it to say at the moment: Rule #1. Lighting needs to be adequate but NOT dominating. Rule #2. Lighting needs to be placed where it does the most good for the purpose intended. Rule #3. Proper lighting is a combination of different lighting techniques working together to provide a unified result. We shall discuss in detail at that up-coming part of the series.