Accessible Kitchens

Universal kitchen design creates accessible space in the heart of your home, space that can be used by anyone, including people who use wheelchairs or those challenged by mobility or stature.

The biggest challenge to designing a handicapped accessible kitchen is creating access to sinks, cabinets, storage, and work surfaces which are usually not usable for people who are sitting in a wheelchair.

With the development and availability of more products and technology, it is getting easier to create an accessible kitchen in any home. You can design The Ultimate Wheelchair Accessible Kitchen that maximizes the independence, convenience and changing abilities of all household members. Efficiency, Functionality and an Attractive Environment. 

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30 Accessible Kitchen Design Ideas

Kitchen Counters and Work Areas

  1. Multi level kitchen counter heights will accommodate everyone in the family including tall adults, children who want to help and family members who are in a wheelchair. Two tiered kitchen islands are a modern feature, and beneficial to your Universal design.
  2. Adjustable kitchen counters can move to the appropriate height needed for anyone who needs to work in the kitchen.

    Kitchen counter with adjustable height cook top

    Adjustable counter stove top lift

  3. For wheelchair accessible kitchens there are certain measurements to remember:
    • The usual height at the top of a wheelchair armrest is approximately 29″. This measurement is important to create custom kitchen counter top heights.
    • The recommended counter top height is a minimum of 28″ and should be no higher than 34″ (32″ is preferred).
    • Space for knees requires at least a 24″ height from the floor and approximately 30″ in width.
    • For a 24″ standard counter top depth, the first 16″ is considered to be easy access for the user—the remainder is useful for storage.
  4. For someone in a wheelchair to be able to use a stove top or a sink, a recessed area must be provided underneath and the counter height must be no higher than 34 inches. This design can benefit anyone who wants to sit down while cooking or washing.
  5. Adjustable cooktop lifts are available so users can modify the height to suit them while cooking.
  6. Install an electric cook top unit with staggered burners and mount the controls on the top front or below the unit to eliminate reaching across hot burners.
  7. Adjustable sink lifts are available to lower and raise the sink to an easy to use height.

See more on Adjustable Cooktop and Sink Lifts

Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Upper kitchen cabinets are generally mounted 18 inches above the counter in most homes, which is unreachable for anyone in a seated position. For wheelchair accessibility, mounting cabinets lower, closer to the counter top could make at least the first shelf reachable.
  2. Adjustable Kitchen Cabinet Lifts are available, which lower the upper cabinets to a reachable level with the push of a button, so someone in a seated position could easily use more of the cabinets. Cabinet Lifts can be installed on existing cabinets.

See more on Cabinet Lifts


  1. Lower Kitchen Cabinets could include pull-out cutting boards, pull out organizers with full extension glides. Keeping pots and pans in a large pull out drawer is easier to access.
  2. Create an over-size elevated toe kick space that is ideally 9” high and 6” deep to accommodate someone in a wheelchair, so they can pull up close enough to the counter.
  3. Large D-shaped Kitchen Cabinet hardware and drawer pulls are easier to grip for anyone with dexterity issues.

Kitchen Appliances

  1. For a wheelchair user, you want to lower or install the wall oven and microwave so they are approximately 31″ from the floor.
  2. For a range, look for a slanted control panel with recessed control knobs that are easy to hold and to turn. Front positioning of knobs and control panel signal lights will make the range easier and safer for those in wheelchairs.
  3. If possible, make the oven accessible from either side or search out an oven with a side-hinged door.
  4. Raise the dishwasher 6″ to 8″ off the floor and locate the unit so it is accessible from either side.

Kitchen Aisle Width

  1. A Kitchen Aisle width of 42″ instead of 36″ allows several people to work in the kitchen at the same time; allowing someone to get around a person in a wheelchair.
  2. Front-to-back measurement, including footrests, determines the wheelchair turning radius required. The turning radius is normally 60″ (25 square feet) for a full 360° turn.

Kitchen Doorways and Hallways

  1. Installing a 36-inch door makes the room accessible to someone in a wheelchair or a walker but a 42-inch width is more comfortable.
  2. Entry doors should have a minimum 32″ net opening measured from the doorstop to the doors face when the door is in a 90° open position. The installation of “swing clear” hinges will create a clear door opening.
  3. To make a 90-degree turn into a doorway in a wheelchair, a hall width of four feet is required.
  4. Doorways that are angled at 45-degrees are easier for a person in a wheelchair to pass through.
  5. Use lever-style door handles and make sure the force required to push or pull interior doors open should not exceed five pounds.

Other Accessible Kitchen Design Ideas

  1. A pot filler located at the stove eliminates lifting heavy pots filled with water.
  2. A cranking, casement type window is easier to open than the standard double hung style.

    kitchen sink lowered for wheelchair access

    Height Adjustable lift for kitchen sink

  3. Glare-free lighting, cabinets, and low-gloss counter laminate improves usability.
  4. Implement a layered lighting design to make sure all areas are properly light for the tasks that are being performed.
  5. Switches and thermostats should be installed no higher than 48″ off the floor.
  6. Place electrical outlets no lower than 15″ off the floor.
  7. Plan for the future. Kitchen remodeling is expensive. If you plan ahead and design your kitchen for your current and future needs, you can create a stylish, beautiful space that works for the whole family for many years.

By implementing accessible design in your kitchen you can maximize independence, provide added convenience and plan for changing abilities of all household members.

The Americans with Disabilities Act created ADAAG guidelines for public places and commercial buildings. When designing an ADA kitchen ADA Accessibility Guidelines provide criteria for multiple things such as turning room and clear floor space allowances for wheelchairs, mounting heights for cabinets as well as countertop and sink clearances.

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