Designing a Kitchen for Multiple Generations

A big trend that’s been happening in housing is multiple generations living together. Young couples are living with parents to save money, aging parents are moving back in with their kids, and of course, many people are choosing to stay in their forever home as they age  – increasing the need for more accessible homes.  As a result,  builders, interior designers, and home appliance specialists are starting to rethink how they design their products.

One of the most important rooms in the house when it comes to aging in place and accommodating multiple generations is the kitchen. Accessible cabinets and storage solutions in kitchen designs are an important factor when renovating or making upgrades. So whether you have the needs of multiple generations in mind, or you’re thinking about your own future and aging-in-place,  make sure you’re considering long-term accessibility.

Kitchen Cabinets

When you’re planning a kitchen, think about how its functionality will serve your needs not only for today but in the future as well. When planning for the long-term, you need to think about ergonomics. No one should have to bend, stretch or crawl into the back of the cabinet to find everyday items.  I often use Wood Crest cabinetry because their organization units glide out with ease to completely reveal the cabinet’s contents, keeping everything at your fingertips. Here are just a few examples.

Full Extension Drawers

Drawers that fully extend for complete visibility means you don’t have to lean over and reach to the back of cabinets to access items. This goes for both food storage and dish storage. While cabinets can have certain advantages, when it comes to aging-in-place, drawers can be the more comfortable option.

Pull Out Pantries

Pull-out food pantries are excellent solutions for making sure all your food items are accessible. These tall narrow cabinets pull right out from the wall so you can access things like canned goods, boxes and bottles without having to stretch or reach too far.  Smaller versions are also terrific for holding additional cooking utensils and smaller items. 

Roll Out Shelves

Rollout out shelves in base and pantry cabinets also fully extend for easy access. It’s also a great way to store small appliances that are infrequently used like mixers or slow cookers. This is a far better option than having to reach into cabinets, which can strain your back.

Corner Cabinets

Corner pull outs are a must-have for a lot of people. A Lemans corner pullout slides right out making everything instantly accessible. And if that’s not the way you want to go, a corner lazy susan is another great option. 

Lemans Left | Lazy Susan Right

All of these pull-out storage solutions also give  you complete visibility of your cabinet contents allowing you to take stock at a glance, so you know exactly what you need without having to go searching. You can check out the rest of Wood Crest’s ergonomically-friendly organization units here.

Another great option when thinking about accessibility is Wood Crest’s Universal Kitchen Cabinets, which are ergonomically designed for wheelchair users. I’ll be discussing this in more detail in the near future, but the toekick has an increased depth and height, allowing wheelchair pedals to go under the cabinet, allowing the chair to pull in closer.  The cabinets are also 32 9/16” high, allowing users to work comfortably at the counter while seated.

Anytime you’re planning a kitchen renovation make sure you’re considering how long you plan to stay in the home, and if the new design will accommodate your mobility as you age. Remember also that a house that is accessible to people of all ages and abilities will appeal to a high percentage of the population, and if done right, could get you a higher price should you decide to sell your home. Whether it’s for families with young kids, people who take in aging parents, or people who want to stay in their forever home through their golden years, making your home as accessible to as many people as possible is a smart idea.

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