Very often the homeowners, with the help of a designer, combine fitted and unfitted kitchen components to meet their objectives, functionality, and the aesthetics that they desire.
A good example of this would be the base cabinet under a stovetop and a wooden hood cover over it of the same color, but different from the rest of the cabinets. This makes this area visually separate from the rest of the cabinetry. The same could hold true for a center island that combined dining and food preparation or a grouping of base cabinets and glass door wall units imitating the look of a dish hutch. Even the countertop could be a different color with a different edge treatment to further the visual separation.
A kitchen design services are such a large topic that no one book can cover it, but I suggest you began by looking at a book titled “The Best of Today’s Kitchens Design” by Tina Skinner (published by Schiffer Publishing).
Universal Design is becoming more and more a recognized term. I’ve understood the basics of this since I became involved in building furniture and cabinets. My very first project that began my education was building a bar for a basement refreshment area in my first house. It had to seat adults, children, my parents, and guests.
I needed to determine the counter height, under the counter sink height, seating height, and much more.
Because people are different, kitchens and other areas of the home can be designed to meet their needs as well as people who have few if any challenges. For instance, if you have a bigger family and you need more space in the sink, a farmhouse sink would be a better choice than a regular one. With this would also come the need for a proper farmhouse sink garbage disposal to make things more efficient in the kitchen.
What are important Universal Design elements that should be incorporated into a kitchen?
Homes change ownership many times, but there are more things that multi-generational families and the individuals that make them up to have in common than they have different. Countertops should be installed at varying heights dependent on tasks. Some tasks should be allowed to be performed while seated, others without being bent over while standing. If there are no convenient countertops near a cooktop or wall oven, a pull-out heat resistant surface makes sense. Work areas should be designed to eliminate extra steps.
Consideration the placement and height of electrical switches as well as appliances are important for physical comfort as well as safety. The universal reach range of 15 to 48 inches from the floor should be dedicated to such tasks as storing often used dishes, dinnerware, pots, and heavy items so that they’re easily within reach. Accessible design elements that allow a wheelchair to move around will also allow others to move around and work in the kitchen safely.
I haven’t gone into the depth of detail that the subject of Universal Design deserves, but I hope you will. There is much written on the subject and I think you may want to implement some of the design elements into your kitchen to make its use more enjoyable for you. One of the elements that I try to incorporate in every project is to use doors and archways with wider widths throughout a project to make passage easier. This little cost concern during construction can save a lot of money in case an occupant becomes physically challenged or even temporarily ill.