Modern Accessibility

  • By Katy Tomasulo
  • Source: BUILDING PRODUCTS Magazine
  • Publication date: 2011-05-01

If ever a project shunned the notion that universal design has to be clunky and obvious, it's this remodeled kitchen from Jackson Design & Remodeling in San Diego. Hidden among the modern lines, inviting open space, and stainless steel are numerous details that make life easier for one of the owners, a wheelchair-bound physician. "The clients wanted to do something functional, of course, but the first thing they said is 'We don't want it to look like it's for someone in a wheelchair,'" recalls senior interior designer Sol Quintana Wagoner, ASID.

Creativity-and mostly off-the-shelf products--helped achieve that vision. In place of the original kitchen's dark motif and tight layout, the team chose white and neutral finishes that pop and brighten. A narrow island allows ample space for maneuvering, while its table-height seating area accommodates the wheelchair comfortably at either end. Simple product swaps--such as a center-faucet sink, right-hand-opening cabinet doors, appliance drawers, and a pocket pantry door--make everyday tasks manageable.

The result is a lifestyle-enhancing space suitable for any home. "This is a perfect showcase [of how] universal design is not only for people with challenges; it's for everybody," says Quintana Wagoner. "And just because it's functional doesn't mean you lose the beauty." --Katy Tomasulo