“Selecting A Kitchen Remodel As An Aging In Place Project”

Spending time in the kitchen – alone or with family or neighbors – is an important aspect of the way we use our homes and one that draws attention to how well and safely we can use them


The kitchen is central to a home’s design

Kitchens are an important part – make that essential – of the home. For as far back as we can imagine, kitchens have been the central part of the home. In colonial and frontier days, the kitchen was the main room in the home. Because the kitchen had the heat source for the home, cooking, eating, gathering, homework, family discussions, entertainment, reading, sewing, and most everything else done in the home during waking hours largely was conducted in the kitchen. Even in homes with more rooms in them, the kitchen still enjoyed a prominent role.

With this significant history, kitchens are still quite important today. We have living rooms, family rooms, dining rooms, dens, media rooms, basements, bedrooms, bathrooms, and other rooms to use also, but the kitchen often is where the day begins and ends for the occupants of the home – and those who drop in to visit.

The kitchen is the focal point of the home

Because the kitchen is such a vital and important aspect of our homes, it receives considerable focus and consideration. Home shoppers (new homes or existing ones) are interested in kitchens – often as their top priority or main feature in a home. People who want to renovate their homes for function, styling, or potential resale often begin with the kitchen because they know how important this is to the character of the home and to those who might want it after them.

People seem willing to spend money for their kitchens when they may not invest so willingly or as much in other areas of their home.

Selecting the kitchen for an accessibility update

Because of the prominence of the kitchen in our homes, people likely will be quicker to identify issues that they have in this room than in other parts of their home. They will be more willing to admit that they need some help and won’t feel so much that the deficiencies are due to something they have done but some necessary fixes and updates that will help them have a safer time of using and being in that important part of their home.

Because the kitchen is open from dawn to dusk – and occasionally more than this – it is a constant area of activity. Making coffee, breakfast, lunches, dinner, and snacks, getting larger meals ready to go into the oven (or however they are made ready to serve), sitting down to eat or taking the prepared food to where we will sit to enjoy it, picking up after the meals or snacks, cleaning up and disinfecting surfaces, and making the space ready for the next event (small or larger) are part of the daily life cycle of the kitchen.

Safety is key

While the bathroom may be the riskiest room in the home because it is relatively small, it tends to have slippery surfaces, and the fixtures and flooring are usually quite hard and unforgiving – meaning that mishaps when they do happen tend to be more severe – the kitchen has plenty of safety challenges.

Kitchens contain knives and other sharp edges – frozen objects, stiff packaging, and meat bones, for instance. There is heat to deal with from ovens, steam and hot liquids, heated surfaces. and cooked foods. There is the potential of dropping a heavy can, pot, or frozen food item on our feet, Bending down to reach lower cabinets or stretching to retrieve something from a higher location can be challenging and lead to a strain. Walking into objects when our vision is partially obscured by what we are holding or doing contributes to safety issues also.

Addressing some of the kitchen concerns

People are going to have many different needs in the kitchen, depending on their age, ability, configuration of the kitchen, and how they use their space. Some people spend hours in their kitchen preparing meals, baking, cleaning up, and performing other tasks they regard as important. Some people view their kitchen as a less integral part of their daily life but a necessary one.

Regardless of how much or little one uses their kitchen and what functions their kitchen needs to accommodate, lighting is key. More lighting, better quality of lighting, and better illuminated surfaces and work areas are crucial needs of any kitchen.

We can look at flooring, cabinetry, appliances, countertops, seating, controls, and other important aspects of the kitchen also, but when we plan an upgrade or improvement for our clients – even with a very modest budget – a great place to begin (and perhaps that is all that will be done) is with lighting.

Improving the location and quality of lighting for our clients will go a long way in enhancing their safety, enjoyment of their home, and quality of life.

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