Universal Appeal in Accessible Design
A remodel proves that individuality rules, even in accessible design
Allison Pileggi uses a wheelchair, so when she and her husband decided to remodel the kitchen in their suburban Pittsburgh home, accessibility was a top priority. The Pileggis consulted local designers about the project but were disappointed with the results. Either the designs submitted didn’t take into account that the kitchen’s primary user would be working from a wheelchair, or they were aesthetically bland and institutional-looking. After Allison and Bill decided to design the kitchen themselves, they hired New Hampshire-based Crown Point Cabinetry to execute their plan. The new kitchen encompasses the original galley kitchen, plus a few adjacent spaces. Moving a wall allowed the Pileggis to add a center island with a 30-in.-high countertop and at least 3 ft. on all sides. It also allowed them to create a hybrid tray and vaulted ceiling with a skylight above. Access to the laundry room was now through the kitchen, but the Pileggis avoided breaking up a line of cabinetry by installing cabinet-style doors with special hardware that allows the doors to swing open and then slide backward. Additional features of this kitchen that make it accessible to Allison but that work well for other users include the cabinet finish, which can be touched up easily after being dinged by the wheelchair; a farmhouse sink that sticks out from the cabinet base; a pot filler at a reachable distance over the stove; a mixer lift in the island; and storage drawers in most of the kitchen’s toe-kick spaces. Appliances were chosen and placed so that they’d be within Allison’s reach, and a refrigerator drawer holds items that Allison wouldn’t otherwise be able to retrieve from the refrigerator. See more photos of the Pileggis’ kitchen.