Accessing everything in a kitchen as a wheelchair user isn’t easy. It can be difficult to reach sinks, cupboards and worktops making it near impossible to independently use the kitchen without assistance or a struggle. 

The good news is that there are simple adaptations that can be added to any kitchen, that improve accessibility and make using the kitchen stress-free and easy for everyone in the household.

How To Make Kitchens Accessible For Wheelchair Users

Many adaptations will enhance a kitchen and make it more accessible. But how do you know what adaptations you need? How do they work? Can they be fitted to your kitchen? 

The simplest solution is to speak with an accessible kitchen expert who’ll be able to talk through all the design options to suit your situation and requirements. They’ll be able to assess if you need a complete kitchen re-fit, or if your current space can be adapted to solve any issues. 

But if you’re just at the beginning of this journey, then this blog will help you to understand what types of adaptations are available and how they could potentially help you to make your kitchen more accessible and easier to use. 

The Top 3 Kitchen Adaptations

At the John Ford Group, we’ve found that these 3 kitchen adaptations solve many of the major problems for wheelchair users and those that prefer to be seated while preparing food.

1: Lowering Worktops & Surfaces

Lowering standard worktops can allow a seated person to have easy access to everything on the work surface – space for food preparation and use of appliances that live on the worktop like toasters, the kettle or chopping boards. 

There are two ways to lower a worktop: electronically or manually. 

Electronically is as simple as pressing a button that lowers the work surface to the required height. This electronic adjustment can also be used for sinks and hobs as well. 

Manual adjustment technology uses a winding technique to lower and raise the worktops, as required. 

The great thing about adjustable work surfaces is that everyone can use the surface at an ideal height to suit them.

Kitchen adaptations

As demonstrated by the photograph an adjustable worktop is a versatile addition to any kitchen, solving the issue of reaching worksurfaces completely.

2: Accessible Storage

Accessing cupboards, especially wall units, can be an impossible task from a seated position.

Pull-down baskets fixed inside wall units are a simple and often affordable solution. They can be lowered electronically, or with a pull-down system. Not only are they a great help for access, but they are a fantastic space-saving storage solution as well!

Wall units can be lowered for easy access, but the addition of retractable baskets allows the kitchen to remain in proportion without the units having to be lowered too far.  

Base units are also problematic so the use of a carousel unit not only provides more room for storage but is extremely user-friendly too. These units can often be pulled out completely to give full access to the contents of the cupboard.

kitchen adaptations

3: Raising Of Plinths 

Plinths also referred to as kickboards or kickplates, are used to bridge the gap between the floor and the bottom of your cabinets. They hide away cabinet legs, cables, and pipes making your kitchen look sleek and tidy.

While standard plinths don’t prevent wheelchair users from accessing the kitchen, raising them can actually improve accessibility. 

A standard plinth is usually 150mm / 6 inches high but we can raise them to be at least 200mm – 250mm. This is to ensure that a wheelchair floorplate can be pushed easily into where the plinth is. We also set it back further than standard plinths so a wheelchair user can get right up to the kitchen units. This not only helps get closer to the worktop, but it makes reaching for the wall units easier too.

Can My Current Kitchen Be Adapted?

The type of kitchen needed varies for each individual, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Your needs are unique and your adaptations should be custom created to make life easier for you. 

Adaptable kitchens can be made bespoke and designed completely around your needs. You don’t necessarily need to fit a whole new kitchen either, you can also make simple adaptations to existing kitchens that make them more accessible and user-friendly.

Adaptable worktops can be installed easily into an existing kitchen, and storage adaptations like installing carousels and baskets can be added to existing units. 

A bespoke accessible kitchen allows you to make it exactly as you like/need it to be. 

How Long Does It Take? 

If you’re concerned about the amount of work involved with a kitchen renovation, you don’t need to be. Depending on the level of work, it can be done very quickly with minimal disruption. 

Small adaptations to an existing kitchen can be completed in as little as a day or two. 

A full kitchen installation is a larger project and can take up to three weeks when including flooring and tiling. However, we ensure that the process is smooth and do all we can to reduce the time without kitchen facilities.

When selecting electronic elements like adjustable worktops and cupboards, please bear in mind these take a little longer for installation.

Using the right contractors will make this whole process as stress-free as possible. We talk you through the whole process and discuss realistically what to expect and, more importantly, what will work for you. 

How Much Will It Cost?

The great thing about an accessible kitchen is that it can be designed to suit any budget and there are several ways of keeping the cost down. 

Small adaptations that take around 1 – 2 days cost an average of £1000. 

A fully bespoke kitchen is not dissimilar to any standard kitchen re-fit and can go right up to the £40,000 – £50,000 mark. 

What Are The Benefits?

The most important benefit of an accessible kitchen is the independence that it provides for wheelchair users whilst using the kitchen.

Being unable to access and properly use the hub of the home can be frustrating and limiting to those with accessibility constraints. It’s also dangerous.

An adapted kitchen eliminates these problems and can transform living situations.

Some of the benefits are:

  • They are safe – A well-designed accessible kitchen is safe and easy to use for the entire family. 
  • Luxurious design – Just because a kitchen is accessible doesn’t mean you have to compromise on design. It can still be high spec and luxurious. 
  • Innovative – They can incorporate all the mod-cons! From hot taps, pull-out worktops/ironing boards & slide and hide ovens.
  • Cost benefits – If a kitchen is designed for someone with a disability then it can be VAT exempt.

Why Choose An Adapted Kitchen?

As well as increasing independence, a well-designed kitchen is safer too.

If you’re considering making your kitchen more accessible, you need a contractor who can talk you through the entire design process from design, installation and cost. 

You’ll want to work with a team that understands the limitations that a typical kitchen presents to someone with mobility issues. They also need to understand and have knowledge and expertise to create a space that is safe and functional with great design. 

The John Ford Group Can Help You

The John Ford Group has over 14 years of experience designing and installing disability adaptions in domestic and commercial properties. 

We work closely with our clients to provide functional, stunning kitchens that eliminate any problems a wheelchair user might face when using a kitchen.

If you want to discover more about what we can do to make your kitchen the heart of your home for everyone, then get in touch today.