My Top Design Favourites for Wheelchair Accessible Kitchens

Whilst we’re not looking to upgrade our kitchen just yet, I have started to look around (because I’m an interiors obsessive so why wouldn’t I?) for the best kitchen ideas and adaptations to suit our needs.

There are a few things that we need to consider, that you may not think of if you’re not in that niche, but I’ve been looking around and for the most part, the big kitchen providers have accessible (or inclusive as they like to call it) options that suit many different types of wheelchair users or those with other disabilities.  I’ve put together a Pinterest Board for accessible design, so take a peek there when you have a moment.

Seating for Preparation and Eating

First up, is a stool to help people with mobility problems to sit and eat at the countertop or for preparing food.  We’ve had a couple of stools, as I describe in this post because as you can see from this beautifully curated shot of Mr Wheel Chic Home cooking a curry in a shot full of mess and #instareality !  the wheelchair (when he uses it in the house) is too low for him to reach the hob.

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I won’t reiterate too much of the stool saga in the kitchen as it’s in my other post, but it’s important to get the right type of stool or saddle seat in the kitchen to help.

Mid-Height Ovens and Supporting Shelves

Next up is the oven.  You will notice from the photo above that we have a mid height built in oven.  This is hugely important because people with mobility problems, or those who are upper limb amputees or if you’re in a wheelchair, a standard cooker with a low oven is simply unworkable.  With this oven, Mr WCH can use the chair, pull open the oven and pull things out, resting things on the door if need be.  This means he’s not bending over, which inevitably leads to falling and dinner (and he) remains safe!

If you’re an upper limb amputee, the ability to get something from the oven safely, and the ability to rest it somewhere is really important. Having a shelf there can make the transition from oven to worktop a little easier especially when lifting heavy items.

Some kitchen providers offer shelves in their inclusive ranges to help with getting items out of the oven safely with oven doors that open from one side so it’s in reach of a wheelchair user that might not be able to get to a higher handle.

Here’s an example from Howden’s Inclusive Range.  This shows the extra shelf that slides in and out of the cabinets and can be used as a work surface independent of using the oven.

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Photo Credit: Howdens

You can have these things fitted at custom height to suit your needs, which is great because some people need to have chairs that are higher than standard.

Different Height Worktops

The standard kitchen worktop in the UK is 90cm, which as you can see from the photo above, is too tall for a wheelchair.  Luckily, kitchen suppliers offer lower counters for shorter people or for wheelchair users.  If you have ambulant and wheelchair users in your kitchen you might not want everything low down – so you can get work tops and sink or hob units that can be adjusted.  I know!  Who knew?

Here’s an example (again from Howdens but there are lots of companies that do this) that has a work surface that can rise and fall at the touch of a switch. That is a great solution.

Note this has an induction hob, this is recommended for wheelchair users as there’s no naked flame to reach over to get to the back ring.  Also it’s easy to clean and looks sleek and sexy too.

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Photo Credit: Howdens

You can also get pull out shelves that look like drawers, similar the oven one above to give a lower worktop, or you could have a dual height island if you have the room.

Wall Hanging Units

Wall hanging units or units without a plinth (just legs) are really useful for a wheelchair user so that your feet can go underneath the counter and allow you to get a little closer to the hob or the sink.  It’s such a simple solution!  Wall hung units are also useful to give the illusion of space in a smaller kitchen.

You could also add some LED lights under these worktops to give it an extra bit of flair.

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Photo Credit: Magnet Trade Kitchens

The amount of choice now and customisable options is fantastic.  You can have pretty much any style kitchen in any colour.  The only limit is the space you have, unless you can extend.

Moveable Shelves

For wall mounted units above the counter you can get great units that lower the shelves so they can be reached.

This means you’re not wasting valuable wall space by having everything below the counter and if you’re sharing the kitchen with an ambulant person who can reach above, the cupboards look and feel like a standard kitchen.  So no-one else need know that it has adaptations.

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Photo Credit: DMKBB

This photo comes from DMKBB kitchens who have a great Portfolio of previous projects for all kinds of disabilities and needs.  This clearly shows you don’t have to give up beautiful design because you have a disability. The bottom half of the cupboard stays put, it’s just the upper shelves that move.

Alternatively you can have your upper cupboards at a lower height above the work surface to allow easier access.

Fridges and Freezers

I think when we do refurbish the kitchen we’ll go for either an American fridge-freezer so Mr WCH can access both the fridge and the freezer – or we’ll go with a pair of inegrated under counter appliances.  Our current one is so tall that he can’t reach the top when he’s in the chair (it’s ok when he’s on crutches).

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Photo Credit: John Lewis

Imagine the wine and beer I could fit in that!  Oh, and fruit and veg and organic greek yoghurt, of course!  This means the milk is at a good height and all the sections can be reached.  We’d have to make room for it of course but I’m sure I could cope with the hardship!

A few other ideas to think about when planning an accessible kitchen are things like:

  • Mixer taps with long handles to allow better reach in the sink
  • Lower storage units with swing out shelves to allow you to reach to the back easily
  • Islands with no units underneath to allow for meal preparation and eating
  • Microwaves set into the lower counters
  • Additional lighting under counters or cabinets
  • Non-slip flooring that’s easy to clean

As you can see I have lots to plan when it comes to my new kitchen!  However for the moment we will go with cheap makeover as it works for us right now.  I have plenty of time to be planning for a full refurb!

What other options might be good for a disabled kitchen? Have you ever used one?

Note: this is NOT a sponsored post for any kitchen provider, this is just my research based on our own individual needs.  When you’re looking for your own kitchen, keep these ideas in mind, plus your own and work with the experts in the kitchen company.  You’re the expert about your own needs.

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