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Accessories to maximize access and storage

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Acknowledgment of the human aging process and increasing appreciation for the diversityof physical characteristics in household members have changed the approach to access andstorage in both the kitchen and the bathroom. In general, rehab work should take intoaccount that access and storage can be improved by following basic universal designprinciples and practices.

These guidelines establish flexibility and improve access and support to make the spaceuseable by more types of people most of the time. Critical to access is creating storageand work centers within the comfort zone of most people.

Storage should be concentrated in the universal reach range of 15" to 48"above finished floor height, and near its point of use. Work surface heights should varyto accommodate standing or seated people of varying heights.

While the kitchen or bath cannot be totally redesigned when keeping existing cabinetryin rehab work, much can be done to enhance the storage and other functional aspects of thespace.


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The following are examples of accessories available in a range of costs with a varietyof benefits to improve existing cabinetry:



Step stools can easily be installed on the inside of a base or tall cabinet door foruse in a single location, or they may be stored in either of these spaces or in thetoekick of a cabinet, to be removed and used where desired (Fig. 10).

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Figure 10

Typical units store in 4" of space and unfold to a height of 15" assingle-step units or higher in the two-step version. Both Hafele and Rev-A-Shelf offerstep stool accessories.

  • ADVANTAGES: Provides safer access to storage above the universal reach range. Built-in units provide storage at the point of use. Easy to accomplish in a rehab project.
  • DISADVANTAGES: Deeper units may absorb some base cabinet storage. Built-in units can only be used where installed.



A corner revolving shelf or corner swing-out shelf will improve access to previouslyblind corners (Fig. 11).

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Figure 11

Recent needs for recycling have brought responsive design in the form of rotatingmultiple bins that make good use of the otherwise poor storage in the corners.

  • ADVANTAGES: Improves access.
  • DISADVANTAGES: To fit within the cabinet, the movable storage is often smaller than the overall space available. Successful installation in rehab requires precise dimensioning of available interior space and the opening.



In wall, tall, or base cabinets, converting to adjustable shelves allows the homeownerto maximize storage (Fig. 12).

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Figure 12

In base or tall cabinets with a typical depth of +24" roll-out shelves andaccessories further increase access to storage. Note that when cabinet depth is less than18" roll-outs are usually not necessary.

  • ADVANTAGES: Items can be easily stored and used without reaching into cabinets.
  • DISADVANTAGES: Weight of items to be stored must be considered for proper function of the roll-out shelf (hardware/ shelf ratings for maximum load are usually available).




Accessories are available to support recycling, tray storage, spice storage, appliancestorage, and more (Fig. 13, 14, and 15). Typically, these accessories are designed to beremovable to allow for flexibility in storage.

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Figure 15

  • ADVANTAGES: Improves organization and efficiency.
  • DISADVANTAGES: Permanently installed items eliminate flexibility. After-market accessories often use less than the full cabinet interior.



Easy to install "appliance garages" and railing systems supporting a varietyof storage options can be added to an existing backsplash area to increase and improveflexible and accessible storage. Railing systems, manufactured by Hafele and Rev-A-Shelf,are growing in popularity.

Storage provisions include knives and utensils, wraps, cutting boards, condiments andspices, paper towels, cookbooks, dish draining racks, and more (Fig. 16).

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Figure 16

Tambour, sliding, or (occasionally) hinged doors are installed in the backsplash belowthe wall cabinets, to conceal stored appliances. Including outlets provides true storageat the point of use.

  • ADVANTAGES: Increases and improves storage with easy installation in rehab situation.
  • DISADVANTAGES: Can be costly, can interfere with counter top use. In the case of appliance garages, appliances to be stored must be measured for a good fit.



In existing cabinetry and design, wall cabinet storage can be made height-adjustablevia an Accessible Design Adjustable Systems motorized unit or Hafele mechanical system(Fig. 17).

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Figure 17

  • ADVANTAGES: Brings wall cabinet storage within the reach of most people. Growing use has brought the cost down.
  • DISADVANTAGES: Difficult to install in existing location and requires approximately 3" in depth, either in addition to cabinet depth or absorbed from cabinet depth. When used, cabinet in lowered position can interfere with counter.

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  • "1999 Buyer's Guide," Kitchen and Bath Business, Feb. 1999.
  • "Annual Directory and Buyer's Guide," Kitchen and Bath Design News, Feb. 1999.
  • Kitchen Industry Technical Manual; Volume #4, Kitchen Planning Standards and Safety Criteria, Ellen Cheever, CKD, CBD, ASID, National Kitchen and Bath Association, 1996.
  • Universal Kitchen and Bath Planning, Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, CHE, McGraw-Hill, 1998.

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  • Accessible Designs Adjustable Systems, ADAS, 94 North Columbus Road, Athens, OH 45701; 740-593-5240; 740-593-7155 (fax).
  • Feeny Mfg., PO Box 191, 6625 Old State Rd. 3 North, Muncie, IN 47303; 765-288-8730; 765-288-0851(fax); www.kv.com.
  • Hafele, PO Box 4000, 3901 Cheyenne Drive, Archdale, NC 20263; 919-889-2322; 800-423-3531; 910-431-3831 (fax); www.hafeleus.com.
  • Hinge-It Corp., 3999 Millersville Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46205; 800-599-6328; 317-542-9514; 317-542-9524 (fax); www.hingeit.com.
  • Rev-a-Shelf, PO Box 99585, 2409 Plantside Dr., Jeffersontown, KY 40299; 800-626-1126; 505-499-5835; 502-491-2215 (fax); www.rev-a-shelf.com.

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This story is excerpted from The Rehab Guide:Kitchens & Baths , one in a series of guidebooks produced by the U.S. Departmentof Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to keep the design and construction industryabreast of innovations and state-of-the-art materials and practices in homerehabilitation.

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