Letting the (brick) dust settle – Part 2: The design

As mentioned in last week’s post, over the next few weeks I’d like to showcase some of the elements of our new kitchen design that will hopefully ensure the space remains suitable long after the decline in my sight reaches its inevitable conclusion.

going to focus on the actual kitchen layout. It goes without saying that the planning of the layout is integral to a successful kitchen design and, for Kath and I, we were conscious of the added implications of my low vision.

A close up of a narrow kitchen cabinet under a white, marbled worktop. I am sure that this is actually green, but have been assured by everyone else that it is, in fact, grey.
I’ll let you be the judge – Is this cabinet grey or green?

First and foremost, we had to decide of colour and style. As I have very little colour definition left – I am convinced there is a conspiracy between all my friends and family working to convince me that the cabinets in our utility are grey when I’m certain they are, in fact, green (I’ll let you be the judge).

Therefore, any decision-making rights I had on colour were revoked many years ago. Even though my colour definition has gone the same way as the chances of me ever scoring the winning goal at the FA Cup, I am still able to distinguish between dark and light and so we have gone for a colour theme that incorporates contrast between a grey stone floor, light pebble cabinets and black worktops, hopefully enabling me to navigate the space easily. A highly reflective surface can play havoc with my eyes so to help combat this, the floor and cabinet fronts have a matt rather than gloss finish and a marbled grain in the worktops will also help.

For style, we opted for a modern, handless design. As well as this meaning we don’t have the arduous job of selecting from a range of hundreds of different door handles, there are some practical advantages too. Firstly, to open a cupboard or drawer I will simply have to locate the top or side of a door and then pull from anywhere along the ridge – much easier than trying to find a handle. Secondly (and some may argue more importantly) without door handles, there is one less thing for me to impale myself on!

A closeup of a pebble-grey kitchen cabinet beneath a marbled black worktop. There is a groove beneath the worktop and a cut-away section across the top of the cabinet for a hand hold
Handless cabinets and drawers are much easier to open than ones with traditional handles

Being 6 foot 2 and quite clumsy when t comes to leaving cupboard doors open and then walking straight into them, we felt that minimising the number of tall and wall cupboards ould be a good idea. Also, where possible, drawers have replaced cupboards making it much easier to search for things without having to scrabble about in the back of a cupboard. Where cupboards are unavoidable, we have opted for pull-out shelves as much as possible.

Talking of things to walk into, one thing that Kath has insisted on is to be able to cook whilst looking out into the garden, meaning fitting the hob into the island. This meant finding a solution for the extract that wouldn’t cause a constant state of concussion. We really didn’t want a traditional cooker hood so spent many hours searching for the right solution – but more on that another time.

It’s taken many iterations with our very patient designer from Wren, Ritchard, but the plans are now finished and ready for final checks before manufacture. The whole process has been a true partnership between the three of us. From that first meeting in our cramped dining room, his enormous mobile showroom parked outside blocking the road to yesterday’s final consolidation session – culminating in Kath taking a virtual reality tour of the end result in their VR suite.

There are still 5 or 6 weeks until we go from this empty, dusty space to the physical result starting to come to life and in the meantime, we are living off my rather dubious barbecuing skills but knowing what will be is very exciting.

I’d like to finish by just saying that, whilst we have had input from various disability specialists, the overall process has been the same as anyone else wanting to replace their kitchen. So often, people assume that to make something accessible you can’t simply go to your local designer and instead need to employ specialists. Although some suppliers do specialise in accessible design (and often charge a premium for the privilege) it simply isn’t true. Only you know what works best for you and any designer will be able to build your perfect design whatever your budget.

Until next time, I wish you a restful week.


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