The Accessible Life

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Kitchen

They say the kitchen is heart of any home. Truer words were never spoken. Le Corbusier once described the house as a machine. If this is true, the kitchen is the engine in the machine.

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Kitchen

Kitchen (north wall)

Upper Cabinets

Upper Cabinets

Kitchen Workflow

Dishwasher

Kitchen

Kitchen Island

Island Sink

Island Sink

Island Sink Faucet (detail)

Island Sink Faucet

Hot Water Dispenser

Kitchen Island

Kitchen Island

Wall-mounted Ovens

Wall-mounted Ovens

Drawers & Shelves

Kitchen

  • North wall of kitchen buried into hillside provides earth contact insulation
  • Rear kitchen counter top standard 36″ height
  • Island sink & gas range lowered to 30″ accessible from wheelchair
  • 36″ breakfast bar
  • Black concrete counter tops
  • Overhead vent/hood

Kitchen (north wall)

  • Two-basin farm sink w/ 10″ of knee space below
  • Drawer style dishwasher
  • Self-retracting shelves
  • Built-in cabinetry for storage
  • Natural light from windows above

Upper Cabinets

  • Hafele retractable gas piston shelves in upright position
  • An able bodied person can retrieve items from shelves as normal
  • Grab bar pulls down and out to lower shelves

Upper Cabinets

  • Hafele retractable gas piston shelves being lowered
  • Grab bar pulls down and out to lower shelves
  • Once lowered, the shelves remain down until bar is pressed upward

Kitchen Workflow

  • Farm style sink
  • Drawer style dishwasher
  • Hafele drawer organizer for storage of plates, pots & pans
  • Ergonomic design enables me to work independently in the kitchen

Dishwasher

  • Drawer style dishwasher
  • Hafele retractable gas piston shelves in lowered position
  • Ergonomic design enables me to work independently in the kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen Island

  • 30″ height on island with ample knee space allows full access in wheelchair
  • Ergonomic design enables me to work independently in the kitchen

Island Sink

  • Brizo’s “Venuto” kitchen faucet pivots allowing it to swing side to side
  • retractable spray head
  • Single handle on/off & hot/cold controls

Island Sink

  • Brizo’s “Venuto” kitchen faucets at each sink
  • 30″ height island with sink, faucet, and disposal simplifies food prep

Island Sink Faucet (detail)

  • Brizo’s “Venuto” kitchen faucet pivots allowing it to swing side to side
  • Retractable spray head
  • Single handle on/off & hot/cold controls

Island Sink Faucet

  • Brizo’s “Venuto” kitchen faucet pivots allowing it to swing side to side
  • Retractable spray head
  • Single handle on/off & hot/cold controls
  • Instant hot water dispenser by Insinkerator

Hot Water Dispenser

  • Instant hot water dispenser by Insinkerator
  • Both hot & cold water is filtered
  • Hot water is about 190 degrees (close to boiling) when dispensed

Kitchen Island

  • Critical dimension for knee space clearance

Kitchen Island

  • 30″ height on island with ample knee space allows full access in wheelchair
  • Only require about 10″ of depth for knee space under counter

Wall-mounted Ovens

  • Two wall mounted ovens
  • Fisher-Paykel convection on left, GE Advantium on right
  • Retractable layoff table pulls out like a drawer
  • Oven height and juxtaposition to island simplifies retrieving hot items

Wall-mounted Ovens

Drawers & Shelves

Overview

Solving the ergonomic challenges in kitchen design is relatively simple if we break it down and assemble its parts with a little forethought. Keep in mind we’re dealing with boiling liquids, gas ranges, electricity, water, storage, and work surfaces.

With McMillan House’s open floor plan the kitchen acts as the pivot point, anchoring and connecting both the dining and the living rooms.

Two Sinks, Two Counters

The rear counter is the standard 36” height with a two bay farm sink, a drawer style dishwasher, and built-in cabinets above and below. As a paraplegic in a wheelchair, I actually only need about ten (10”) inches of knee space to allow me access to the sink. Recessing the doors to the storage area below the sink allows me room to reach the sink while hiding the typical items stored beneath kitchen sinks.

The two bays of the farm sink are typical in that one’s equipped with a disposal and the other with standard drain. The faucet is a goose neck design which pivots swiveling side to side with stream or spray options. The nozzle head pulls free to allow you to hose down both sink bays. Its on/off, hot & cold control is a single handle lever.

Adjacent to the sink is a drawer style dishwasher. The elevated drawer simplifies the ergonomics of moving dishes from the sink into the dishwasher and subsequently removing them en route to the adjacent storage drawers for flatware, dishes, pots and pans.

Each of the three cabinets above the rear counter are equipped with gas piston retractable shelves. These shelves stay down once pulled out from the cabinet. They’re equipped with a gas piston mechanism which retracts them back into the cabinets when lifted. They require only a modest amount of torque to operate.

The rear cabinets also include a retractable two bin (15 gallon each) trash and recycle storage system on the far left side. The right end of the counter is anchored by a vertical six drawer pantry. Tucked in on the far left side of the back wall is a two door refrigerator. In retrospect, the refrigerator should have been placed before the vertical pantry because being snug against the far wall the right door cannot completely open 180 degrees.

Dishwasher

Adjacent to the sink is a drawer style dishwasher.  The elevated drawer simplifies the ergonomics of moving dishes from the sink into the dishwasher and subsequently removing them en route to the adjacent storage drawers for flatware, dishes, pots and pans.

Cabinets

Each of the three cabinets above the rear counter are equipped with gas piston retractable shelves. These shelves stay down once pulled out from the cabinet. They’re equipped with a gas piston mechanism which retracts them back into the cabinets when lifted. They require only a modest amount of torque to operate.

The rear cabinets also include a retractable two bin (15 gallon each) trash and recycle storage system on the far left side. The right end of the counter is anchored by a vertical six drawer pantry. Tucked in on the far left side of the back wall is a two door refrigerator. In retrospect, the refrigerator should have been placed before the vertical pantry because being snug against the far wall the right door cannot completely open 180 degrees.

Center Island Range & Sink

Located in the center of the kitchen is an island with a gas range, a sink, a vented hood and an elevated breakfast bar. The island height is lowered to 30” and also includes ample knee space beneath. A critical dimension is the clearance height from the top of my thigh in a wheelchair to the underneath side of the counter. The 30” counter height is ideal for me to work. This island has the identical goose neck faucet and disposal system found in the farm sink on the back counter.

The combination of the lower (30”) counter and the ample knee space makes this center island a great fit for me in my wheelchair. The gas range with the exhaust hood over head and the sink with a disposal provides me all I need for food prep and cooking. There’s enough room for my wife and I to work in the kitchen together and yet nothing’s too far way for me to access in my chair.

Also incorporated into the island sink is an Insta-hot water filter system. There are two levers on this device, one for cold, one for hot water. By hot I’m talking about 190 degree water just shy of boiling, ideal for a cup of soup, cup of tea, or a French press coffee. For a person such as a quadriplegic boiling water can be an arduous and dangerous task. They have to fill the kettle, move it to the stove, pour its boiling contents into some receptacle, etc. That’s a lot of work and a lot of moving pieces for someone with limited dexterity in their hands. Compare that to simply pulling a leaver to dispense near boiling water directly where it’s needed.

The Ovens

Built into the east wall of the kitchen are two ovens, lowered so I can access them from my wheelchair. On the left is Fisher-Paykel standard convection oven. On the right is a GE Advantium combination convection/microwave oven. An Advantium oven combines three different cooking modes: microwave oven, speedcook oven, and convection oven. It’s a remarkably functional oven. In brief, the microwave function is fairly self-explanatory though is very user friendly with easy controls and simple self-directed prompts. The convection and speedcook functions work via a halogen lighting system. For a more in-depth discussion on the Advantium oven see products menus.

Beneath the Advantium oven is wooden layoff table/drawer that pulls out of the cabinetry. As I remove hot dishes from the ovens I can set them on this table. It also serves as another accessible work surface. Immediately adjacent to these ovens is the island. All the oven doors, the retractable layoff table/drawer and island heights are designed to facilitate the safe and convenient movement of hot items in and out of the oven from my wheelchair.

The Pantry

At the west end of the kitchen is a modest walk-in pantry. The key here is the amount and variety of accessible shelving. Of the five shelves that line three sides of the pantry, three are accessible to me in my chair. The other two shelves above are accessible to the able bodied. There’s ample room for me to pass through the doorway and move about in the pantry. The pocket door is effective and unobtrusive.

Click on an image below to tour different parts of McMillan House.

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