Finding the Accessible in the Inaccessible – Kitchens of Instagram!

In my occasional series about finding accessible inspiration in the seemingly inaccessible, I wanted to share today some of my favourite kitchens and utility rooms on Instagram and how they have some features and ideas that we can steal if we’re planning an accessible space.

There will be elements of the kitchens I’m going to share that are obviously not accessible or inclusive, but if we’re planning an accessible kitchen we can still go to Instagram or Pinterest to find inspiration in small pieces here and there.  We don’t have to look for inspiration in ‘just’ accessible kitchens.

Let’s take a look around and see what we can find in some of my favourite homes on the ‘gram…

First let’s take a look at Meera’s kitchen – if you don’t follow Meera and her blog First Sense Interiors, then you should definitely check her out, she’s a great blogger, offers interior design services and has a great eye for style.  Her gorgeous new kitchen has come after the house was extended and has been thoughtfully designed with a classic navy blue colour which is both timeless and on trend.

The current trend is for kitchens to not have upper cabinets, but to have open shelving or to have clear walls.  This is a great trend for those who need an accessible kitchen.  All the cabinets are below the counter and the items are within reach for wheelchair users and there’s no struggling to get something from an upper cabinet.  It also gives a feeling of space and openness which can be useful for those with ASD or sensory issues, or for those with visual impairments.

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 18.32.09Photo Credit: First Sense Interiors

Meera’s kitchen was built with this style in mind and the upper half of the kitchen is clear of cabinetry.  It gives a real feeling of space and light, even with the dark colour cabinets.

The beautiful colour cabinets are offset by those lovely contrasting gold colour handles, useful for those with a visual impairment – having a contrast helps to find your way around.

The kitchen is set around a fabulous large island.  Clearly this is a little high for a wheelchair user, but it could be lowered and the stools replaced with chairs to make it more accessible.

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The appliances in Meera’s kitchen are fantastic – this range cooker being induction on the top, we would always advocate induction in an accessible kitchen.  Clearly the ovens are too low for a person with restricted mobility, but I love that you can get an amazing looking range with an induction hob for safety.

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 18.29.40Photo Credit: First Sense Interiors

The other appliance of note is the American Fridge Freezer, which we in the Wheel Chic Home are coveting.  Mr WCH currently struggles to reach anything past the first shelf in the fridge as it’s too high for him now and we are desperately after a Fridge Freezer that he can easily reach, but that means us ripping out cupboards and I’m not sure we’re ready for that just now!

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 18.26.14Photo Credit: First Sense Interiors

Next up, how can we have a kitchen post without mentioning THE Swoon Worthy kitchen?  If you don’t follow Kimberly’s blog, Swoon Worthy, then I urge you to go over and follow her.  Kimberly was one of the first blogs and instagram pages I followed.  She’s a long established and award winning Interiors blogger – and her new kitchen is just out of this world!

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Kimberly’s kitchen was designed in conjunction with John Lewis of Hungerford and they have come up with a classic, pale green and gold design that won’t age or go out of style. The overall feeling is one of calm which is helpful for those with Mental Health issues – the clear, bright and light feeling of the kitchen, together with the soothing green cabinets exude a sense of calm and order which is great for those who might struggle with clutter or bright colours.

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 11.14.29Photo Credit: SwoonWorthy

Again, this kitchen has no upper wall cabinets, so from an accessibility point of view, all the items are easy to reach in lower cabinets.  The shelf on the wall houses lovely decorative items and keeps the light moving round the kitchen so if you have visual impairments, the light bright feel is helpful.

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 11.14.57Photo Credit: SwoonWorthy

The large handles on all the doors and drawers are easy to grab hold of for those with dexterity concerns and the gold colour adds that bit of bling we all love!  The handmade drawers have in built storage dividers so you can safely organise your cutlery and sharp knives and make things easy to reach if you have a visual impairment.

The floor is just beautiful, the warm parquet is hard wearing and easy for a wheelchair user and there’s plenty of space between the cabinets for a wheelchair to turn.

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Clearly there are elements that perhaps aren’t accessible, the ovens are too low for an accessible kitchen, in built fridge-freezer is too high, and we’d always choose induction hobs over gas or electric for safety reasons (no hot flames or plates to reach over) – but you could incorporate your own safe hob or hide a big built in American fridge-freezer into this design without looking any of the style or beauty.  I love it!  For more from Kimberly, check out her blog and Instagram for gorgeous inspiration.

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 11.15.28Photo Credit: SwoonWorthy

Up next let’s take a look at Katie’s Utility room.  If you don’t know Katie she’s the Instagram legend that is Come Down to the Woods and all round lovely person.  She lives in a beautiful Yorkshire home with an absolutely fabulous Utility Room.

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Usually when planning an accessible kitchen we go for lowered worktops, or at least a pullout worktop at wheelchair height, we usually look for ovens at eye-level – but what about washing machines and tumble dryers?  If you have mobility, balance or visual impairments it can be tricky to bend down to reach the appliances and pull the washing out.  You might need to sit down whilst getting the clothes out, but here you don’t.

What I love about Katie’s utility room is that the appliances are raised off the floor.  This makes it easier for everyone – regardless whether you live with a disability or not.  This is #inclusivechic design, plain and simple.  Why should anyone scrabble round bending down to do the washing when this is so much easier – and the drawers underneath are great storage for your washing stuff.

The flooring is gorgeous, bright and fun – it’s useful for a wheelchair user and easy to clean.  It might not be great for those with sensory or visual impairments, depending on your own individual concerns, but we can all agree they look fantastic and would be really easy to wheel around on.

Into Katie’s kitchen proper and I love the seamless accessible entry to and from the patio, this is definitely inclusive design.  Steps are overrated!  There’s also a lovely large space to move around in a chair, both inside and out.

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 18.57.42Photo Credit: Come Down to the Woods

The more eagle eyed amongst you will also note the handy accessible height ovens, very helpful for those with mobility issues or with a chair.  I also love the lighting under the island. This is something we can all incorporate easily in our kitchens, regardless of size. Strip LED lighting is relatively cheap and easy to fit, you can even get sticky backed battery operated ones, and you can get colour changing ones which is great for mood, sensory issues or just a sense of drama!

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 19.00.47Photo Credit: Come Down to the Woods

Lastly how could I not include the kitchen that broke Instagram these past couple of weeks?!  Sandra from The Idle Hands is a favourite Instagram account of mine, her sense of drama, theatricality and fun in her home is joyful and her recently revealed kitchen went viral.  It’s stunning, take a look:

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 19.15.16Photo Credit: The Idle Hands

I mean WOW!  Look at the drama here.  The lighting, the wallpaper, the mix and match of textures and colours.  Again the flooring is great and smooth for those with mobility issues and we love the central island with the induction hob.  To make this island accessible, it would need to come down by a few centimetres but it’s entirely doable, you could mimic this entire look and you’d just loose the gold band at the bottom.  I love the mix of textures, great for tactility.

The dark hob against the bright marble worktop is also brilliant for visual impairments, the contrast being helpful to find your place.

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 19.15.41Photo Credit: The Idle Hands

There’s a lot of nice space to turn around in here.  Clearly the storage on the far wall isn’t fully accessible as it uses the full height of the space, but you could easily hide an American Fridge Freezer in here and some clever adaptable storage.  You can also spot that one of the ovens is a good height.

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 19.16.11Photo Credit: The Idle Hands

Here we have just lower cabinets again, and similar to Kimberly’s kitchen, contrasting plug sockets are helpful so they are more easily seen and a statement piece in their own right.

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 19.16.36Photo Credit: The Idle Hands

For me, the most fantastic thing about this kitchen, and I know would be great in our next kitchen, is the small boiling water tap on the right.  Certainly for Mr WCH, who can struggle with lifting a heavy kettle and pouring it safely, a boiling tap like this would allow him to make a cuppa easily, as he can place the cup inside the sink, the lever is large so easy to grip and voila – a safe way to get your drink.

Some of things I’ve mentioned in this post might not be suitable for everyone with a disability or with challenges at home, but I wanted to share my ideas, as I scroll through Instagram or Pinterest I get a lot of inspiration from homes that aren’t accessible but that I can use and make it work for us and our home.

What other adaptable ideas have you found in your Instagram or Pinterest scrolling?

 

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