Here's how Universal Design plays out in the kitchen:


Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible. Other terms for it are ‘transgenerational design’ and ‘inclusive design’ because it provides for people of all ages and abilities. Here are some examples of how Universal Design plays out in the kitchen.


Put them at comfort height, and comfort locations, advises designer Mary Jo Peterson. For a microwave, that's not over the range, which puts it out of reach of children, says Peterson, who runs her own design consultancy in Brookfield, Conn.

For homeowners who want to forego bending down to cook or clean, appliances mounted on the wall or located in drawers are a godsend. Dishwasher drawers located near the sink make clean-up a breeze.

Wall ovens mounted at shoulder height negate the bending down that a standard range requires. Side-hinged doors allow cooks easy reach into the oven, though Peterson cautions clients that that ease comes with a price, since the normal downswing door protects users from the heat of the oven, and the hot door.

Locate appliances at point of use. "It is not unrealistic to think of multiple appliances in a large kitchen," Peterson says. A second sink in the bar area, or a small under-counter refrigerator or refrigerator drawer for beverages are all useful additions. "Maybe you have a refrigerator drawer where you make the children's lunches," she says. "Depending on the need, you might have three 18-inch refrigerator drawers, rather than a full-size upright refrigerator."

Cabinets and Shelving