Taller Toe Kick a must for accessible kitchen?

NaweenAugust 18, 2014

Hi All,

My husband and I are designing our dream home. We want this to be our 'forever' home, and would prefer to 'design it once, leave it forever'. We are generally traditionalists in style, and (barring severe damage due to heavy use, water damage etc), hope to never replace our kitchen once it is built.
We are mid-30s in age, so the kitchen would have a long life ahead of it.

However, we want to build for 'accessible design'. One of the main tenants of AD is the higher toe-kick, which reduces storage space.

- I have a lot of kitchen items
- I would prefer to NOT have a separate pantry
- if going through a 'big' cabinet company, more styles of cabinets are available if I go with the standard toe kick.
- The current trend is to move to mostly drawers, as opposed to the old 2-shelf cupboards.
- I am planning for a 6ft empty space in the middle of our square kitchen, so there would be room for a side approach with a wheelchair.

Given the above - would using standard cabinets (with a lower toekick) be something we regret in our later years, when we are in a wheelchair?

Thanks for any/all comments!

(fyi cross posted to kitchen forum for alternate opinions)

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You don't need to lose the space. There are toe kick drawers now, which open with a tap of your foot, or you can incorporate the toe kick into the bottom drawer by stepping in the bottom of the drawer. Once closed, it looks like a standard (or any height you want) toe kick. That's what we're going to do in our new house.

If you are in your 30's, chances are that the kitchen will be renovated one or more times by the time you reach the age where something like a wheelchair is likely. I know you plan on building it to last forever, but tastes change, and who knows what kind of gee-whiz kitchen stuff they'll come out with over the next 30-40 years?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 5:52PM
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Jack Kennedy

The higher toe kick allows for an individual in a wheel chair to rotate their feet under the base cabinets. You will need a 5' turning radius between counter tops for a wheel chair to rotate. increasing the height of the toe kick allows you to encroach on this 5' circle by the cabinet overhang on both sides. There are also other items you can incorporate to make a home more aging in place appropriate. Easy things like high contrast between vertical and horizontal surfaces is a huge help.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 8:47PM
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A VERY short friend of ours who could stand up only for a few seconds at a time had standard cabinets mounted up on a plinth sort of thing, which she hid with wider toe kick boards in front and tile base on the exposed ends. She also had motorized upper cabinets but they gave her lots of operating problems.

We replaced almost all our lower cabinets with huge drawers and they work so much better.

Don't forget: if you're in a wheelchair your S.O. can hide the ice cream just by shoving it to the back of the freezer. Go side-by-side! You've been warned.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 9:02PM
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