Create Today's Kid Friendly Kitchens Create Today's Kid Friendly Kitchens

How do you create a kitchen that's part command post, part sanctuary and still a convenient place for preparing and sharing family meals?

The challenge faced by kitchen designers and parents alike is how to create a space that's both accessible, safe and comfortable for users of every age. No small feat when "easy to reach" is both a parent's need and a child's temptation. From a toddler's point of view, that elegant new tablecloth looks more like a pull-and-wear cape.

Kid-friendly kitchen plans must solve this Catch-22, according to Mary Jo Peterson, author of "Universal Kitchen Design." "When you create a space as universal as possible, you also create a safety concern," Peterson explains. Her goal is to achieve a "barrier-free" design, safe and easy for people of any age or capability to use and within which to maneuver.

Safety, Peterson says, becomes a priority when planning and shopping for materials and appliances.

Locked drawers and cabinets keep little hands safe, as do childproof safety covers for electrical outlets. Peterson likes timer devices and wall switches for appliances that leave nothing to chance. Electronic hot-water limiters prevent scalding. Open shelving for snacks and safe utensils can curb young, adventurous minds. Rounded edges and pull-out counters set for smaller bodies can make the kitchen user-friendly. Even step stool installed within the toekick of your cabinets will allow youngsters to help you with baking!

Reprinted with permission by the National Kitchen and Bath Association

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