5 Accessible Kitchen Design Trends That’ll Gain Traction in 2022
Of all the rooms in a home, a kitchen tends to require the most activity. There’s stocking shelves, reading labels, chopping ingredients, and stirring them all together — just to name a few. All of which put certain expectations on your mind and body. And if a task can’t be performed simply because it can’t accommodate your needs, then all the actions around it get harder, too. That’s where accessible design comes in.
“Accessible design is based on the concept of tailoring a space to the person or people living in it,” says Maegan Blau, owner and lead designer of Blue Copper Design. “Obviously that can mean so many things, and that’s kind of the point. Kitchens are a very hazardous area in the home, and if they are not set up for safety and ease, then they can be even more dangerous.”
Accessible design has been gaining momentum in recent years, given that older generations are renovating to “age in place” and one in four Americans describe themselves as disabled (even before the pandemic). Blau, who is a wheelchair user, is a rare designer who understands this need from lived experience. “Independence is very precious, and for those living with disabilities, independence is constantly threatened by ability and environment,” she says. “Cooking and eating is obviously a necessity, and creating a space where all are able to participate can build confidence, save money, and promote overall well-being.”
But even if you don’t belong to an older generation or the disability community, there’s still something to be gained from accessible design. Perhaps you’re taller than average, and standard countertop height makes you hunch over. Maybe you have kids, and it would be nice to have a microwave on their level. Heck, it would probably be wonderful to have more smart devices to fill pots with water and track appliances. Even better lighting and more textures could make a positive difference. “Accessibility is not for the few, it is for everyone,” Blau notes. “When we create spaces where everyone is included, the world will only benefit.”
As we look to 2022 and the future of accessible design, Blau discusses the five trends she sees making more of an appearance in kitchen design. Read on to see how you can incorporate these ideas, too, and what makes them so impactful.
1. Drawers in lower cabinetry
While lower cabinetry comes with shelves, installing drawers on them can be a game-changer. Not only does this maximize space and make those hard-to-reach back corners come to the forefront, but it also serves a range of bodies: children, older adults, wheelchair users, and anyone who hears their knees crack for no apparent reason. This detail can also be done relatively on the cheap, Blau notes, thanks to a range of slide-out options on the market.
2. Smart home technology
Smart home appliances have exploded in popularity, and Blau thinks this trend will only become more commonplace. On the budget-friendly side, touchless faucets and Bluetooth pot fillers can streamline prep. Pricier picks like smart ovens and refrigerators can set preheat temperatures and remind you to pick up ketchup, even when you’re not home. It’ll almost make you feel as though you have a thoughtful assistant.
3. Refrigerator drawers
Blau is particularly excited to see the increased use of refrigerator drawers, which can be placed within a bank of lower cabinets. These drawers provide an easier option for grabbing drinks for disabled people and kids alike, and is also perfect for those who need more beverage storage for entertaining. Better yet? You can install them with a cabinet front so that these drawers blend into the rest of the design.
4. Table-height countertops connected to a kitchen island
Blau notes that the choice to connect an island with a lower surface area is appealing for more than one reason. For starters, it’s a chic solution for those who would like more than one seating arrangement, and it can also be a perfect spot for homework. In terms of greater accessibility, though, it can also make it possible to chop, blend, and toss from a seated position.
5. Stylish design choices in place of upper cabinets
Instead of having wraparound upper cabinetry, Blau has noticed that more clients are asking for those taller areas of a kitchen to be used in other ways. Ceiling-to-counter tile work is one example, as are oversized windows that brings in plenty of natural light. By centering storage away from higher locations, and turning them into “an artistic focal point,” it makes it easier for everyone in a household to get food and tools while enjoying the view.
Have you been noticing any of these trends? Tell us in the comments below.