Look at the opportunity of design to empower everyone! – Dan Formosa, Smart Design
An idea came to me last week while exploring the November issue of Architectural Digest. AD is a truly excellent source to turn to for design inspiration as it never stops short of blending art, design and lifestyle seamlessly. This issue in particular covered AD’s Great Design Awards of 2017. The kitchens that were featured notably whisked together bold colours and playful patterns with the best new tech, allowing for a cook space that’s both efficient and eye-catching. Drawing inspiration from these images I found myself wondering, would it be possible to take an inspiring designer kitchen and turn it into an inspiring and accessible designer kitchen? When I saw this one by Suzanne Kasler for a Maine home I decided to put my idea to the test.
This framed kitchen is boldly coloured in Benjamin Moore’s Newburyport Blue. As is the standard in any accessible kitchen design, the toe-kicks have been taken up to 9” in height and are 6” deep throughout. The cup pull handles and knobs have been maintained, but depending on client preference these could easily be swapped out for a pull handle of some sort. The gas range can certainly remain depending on the cook’s preference, or be alternated for something that provides for safer use such as an induction cook top.
The countertop throughout the kitchen space is typical 36” in height, except for the island which is fully accessible. The island features both 34” counter height surface and standard bar height surface of 42” for seating of larger groups of people. Seating is provided for clear knee space of 30” wide, 27” high, and 24”deep (17” being the minimum required). Circulation space ranging from 39” to 56” has been provided throughout, with a 38” wide entrance to the room. The kitchen is complete with industrial modern pendant lights and airy and bright window treatments in off-white, blues and green which serve to tie the colour concept together.
The challenge today isn’t building more solutions, but continuously uncovering what to build. And when things don’t work, uncovering why they didn’t work. You do this by focusing on problems before solutions.
This kitchen transformation is just one example of incorporating some of the elements of accessible and barrier-free design into a space. In this case the main modification is the addition of a fully accessible island, but it must be stated that there are as many potential design solutions as there are users of a space. Overall this was a project that was both fun to work on and educational. In striving to think like the person using the space we can make way for much more effective design, in keeping with the idea of focusing on problems (or the challenge) before solutions. In universal design we plan for the widest range of abilities of the users, in adaptable design we plan for how our abilities change as time moves on, and in accessible and barrier-free design we plan for where certain mobility constraints must be addressed. In any given project we aim to create spaces that will function optimally for the users as well as excite and inspire them. This project has been an enjoyable one that opens the mind up to the possibilities of accessible design.