Five things to consider when designing disability-friendly kitchens

Five things to consider when designing disability-friendly kitchens

Kitchen access mechanism pull-out cabinet shelving for people living with disability

Everyone loves the kitchen! It’s more than just a place where freshly cooked food fills the air and makes our mouth water: it’s the heart of the home, a place where memories are made and where families and friends gather to share laughs and stories.

However, for people living with disability, the kitchen can often be anything but. Kitchens can be highly inaccessible for those with physical impairments, impacting their independence and overall wellbeing.

As one of the most important parts of a home, NDIS kitchen modifications play a big role in improving quality-of-life for people with disability.

Of course, as with any home modification project, making an existing kitchen more accessible can be a complicated job. Luckily, our NDIS builders in Victoria are here to explain all the things that’ll need to be accounted for when building an accessible kitchen.


How to design a disability-friendly kitchen: 5 types of NDIS kitchen modifications

NDIS approved builders in Melbourne play a crucial role in transforming kitchens into spaces that are both functional and accessible for individuals with disability.  Our NDIS builders adapt homes to meet the unique needs of people with disability, ensuring that every corner of the house, including the kitchen, is designed with accessibility in mind.

In this blog, we will explore the top five considerations when designing kitchens for individuals with disability, highlighting the expertise of NDIS home modifications providers in Melbourne, like Restore Home Modifications, who contribute significantly to enhancing accessibility in homes and improve independence for those who live in them.


1. Layout and spacing

A kitchen is a vital part of any home, but for people with disability, it can be a source of frustration and even danger. One of the biggest culprits is the physical layout of the kitchen itself.

Unmodified kitchens can often create barriers for people with limited mobility or who use mobility aids. In other cases, kitchen shelving can be impossible to access owing to the way it’s designed. As a result, kitchen home modification projects often start by finding ways to make kitchen layouts less hostile to people with disability.

Clear pathways

One of the most important parts of accessible kitchen design is ensuring wide, unobstructed pathways to accommodate mobility aids such as wheelchairs or walkers. In particular, kitchen design for wheelchair users and people with other mobility aids needs to consider appropriate space (generally 1.5m) for wheelchair users to manoeuvre around the kitchen safely and efficiently.

Kitchen design for wheelchair users and mobility aids

In addition to allowing more room to manoeuvre, NDIS kitchen modifications often also need to make other allowances for people with mobility aids or other supports.

One example of this is in countertop design. For example, kitchen design for wheelchair users can often require lowered countertops to account for the height difference, with cutouts underneath that allow them to comfortably wash or prepare food from a seated position.

Open shelving

One way NDIS kitchen modifications can make kitchens more accessible is by opting for open shelving or pull-out shelves. This makes items easily reachable and reduces the need to bend over to access the hard-to-reach sections of cabinets.

In other cases, your NDIS-registered builder can take this even further. For example, in the past our NDIS builders have installed shelves that automatically lower on their own, allowing residents to easily access high shelves.


2. Appliances and fixtures

In addition to the physical space itself, kitchen appliances can also play a large role in how safe and accessible the kitchen is. Selecting the right appliances and fixtures can make a world of difference for people with disability, which is why it’s an important consideration in accessible kitchen design.

Here are some key considerations from our NDIS-approved builders when making these choices.

Safe and accessible appliances

When choosing appliances for NDIS kitchen modification projects, safety is just as important as accessibility and ease-of-use. For example, appliances with front controls allow for easy reach and eliminate the need to reach over hot surfaces. Meanwhile, induction cooktops use electrical induction. Unlike gas or electric stovetops, this method doesn’t generate heat resulting in cooktops that stay cool to the touch, making them considerably safer and therefore more appropriate for people who live with disability.

Tactile controls

For ease of use, NDIS builders will often select appliances with tactile controls or which can be adapted with tactile markers for those with visual impairments. Tactile and oversized controls provide a way for individuals with visual or fine motor skill impairments to navigate and use appliances independently.

Adjustable fixtures

Adjustable fixtures offer a simple and effective solution to many accessibility issues. By making the height and reach of fixtures such as taps, shelves, and more adjustable, the kitchen will be able to better accommodate individuals of different heights and abilities.


3. Lighting and contrast

Not all disabilities are physical – many can affect sensory processing and vision as well. As a result, when designing accessible kitchens, visibility and clarity should also be high priorities to prevent accidents and improve safety.

Ample lighting

In many cases, lighting can make a big difference to how safety and accessibility in the kitchen. In addition to bright, evenly-distributed lighting that reduces harsh glare or dark spots that can hinder visibility, NDIS builders may also use a combination of ambient, task and accent lighting to create a well-lit environment that accommodates various activities.

Contrasting colours

It isn’t just light which can improve visibility in the kitchen. In many cases, colour choice can also improve visibility and reduce the risk of accidents by allowing NDIS participants who are visually impaired or deficient in colour vision to identify different surfaces or objects.


4. Prevention is better than cure – safety measures and accident prevention in NDIS kitchen modifications

As specialists in NDIS home modifications in Melbourne, our team understands that kitchen safety is equally as well as accessibility. Each NDIS kitchen modification project we undertake considers flooring materials, ventilation, signage, and other safety features to prevent slips, trips, falls, and other accidents.

Kitchen handrails

Fixtures such as handrails may be a small part of the accessibility equation, but they play an important role! Two of the biggest hazards for people with disability are slips and falls. Not only is there the risk of injury, but for people with limited mobility, they may also be unable to get back up, leaving them immobile or stuck. Kitchen handrails and safety rails play a key role in preventing this from happening.

Slip-resistant flooring

In a kitchen environment where spills and splashes are common, slip-resistant flooring is crucial for preventing accidents. This is especially important for individuals with limited mobility or balance issues, where falling over can result in individuals getting stuck and unable to get back up. To get around this, where appropriate our NDIS builders will install flooring that has a high coefficient of friction (COF) that’s better able to prevent slipping.

Proper ventilation:

Ventilation is essential in any kitchen, but it’s especially important for individuals with severe allergies or respiratory diseases and conditions. Proper ventilation helps to remove airborne pollutants including cooking fumes, odours, and dust, which can exacerbate respiratory issues.

Clear signage

For individuals with cognitive disability or memory issues, clear and visible signage can significantly enhance navigation and reduce confusion within the kitchen. Labelling cabinets, drawers, and appliances with large, easy-to-read signs that use simple language and symbols is a simple change, but it can make a big difference in some cases!


5. Adaptive kitchens, technology, and smart solutions

Our NDIS smart home specialists seamlessly integrate technology and smart solutions into kitchen modification projects. We use a whole host of different technology to empower people living with disability and create a safer and more practical kitchen space.

Smart appliances and home automation

It isn’t just your mobile phone that’s become a smart device. Now, even everyday kitchen appliances are “smart”, using connectivity and networking to connect to wireless networks and each other.

When it comes to accessible kitchen design, that means stovetops, rangehoods, lighting, and more which connect to voice assistants, or which can be controlled remotely via smartphone. NDIS smart home technology uses bespoke and off-the-shelf solutions to empower individuals with limited mobility or dexterity, enabling them to cook with less physical effort.

Click here to learn how disability home automation can change lives.

Adaptive tools and kitchen aids for people with disability

When it comes to modified kitchen design, ensuring that your “tools of the trade” – kitchen tools and utensils – are also appropriate for your abilities. This is just as important as the design of the kitchen itself.

Adaptive tools refer to any tool, device, or equipment that’s specifically-designed for people with disability. Iin the kitchen, that can mean

When working on NDIS kitchen modification projects, your occupational therapist will assess your needs and determine whether you will also need adaptive tools. This refers to any tool, device, or equipment that’s specifically-designed for people with disability. In the kitchen, that can mean easy-grip handles, utensils with angled handles, or one-handed cutting boards.


The NDIS home modifications process

Your needs are unique – as a result, any NDIS kitchen modifications you’re prescribed will also need to be unique to account for your needs.

Fortunately, the NDIS home modification process is specifically designed to ensure that you receive what you need to live safely and independently. You will work closely with an occupational therapist who will assess your needs and prescribe modifications accordingly.

Of course, prescribing is simply the first step in making your kitchen safer and more accessible – it’s equally as important that you choose the right builder as well.

Our NDIS home modification builders have extensive experience, including kitchen modification projects. We’ve worked with participants across Melbourne and Victoria, collaborating with occupational therapists to deliver better results for NDIS participants.

Unlike other builders, our team have lived disability experience. For us, your kitchen isn’t just another job – we understand the frustration of living in a space that isn’t designed for you, as well as the huge impact kitchen modifications can have on your life.

As such, we strive to provide a you-centric approach to everything we do. Our approach, communication, and workmanship focus on providing you with a seamless experience and meeting your unique needs.


Modified kitchen design that restores your independence and safety

Get in touch with Restore Home Modifications today

If you or someone you know requires NDIS home modifications across Melbourne and Victoria to improve accessibility and independence, contact Restore Home Modifications.

In addition to kitchens, we also have experience modifying:

Our dedicated team is ready to support you every step of the way. You can reach us by phone at 1300 333 746, by email at or by filling out the contact form on our website.