LESLIE: Nancy from Illinois is on the line with a question about accessible kitchen cabinets. How can we help you today?
NANCY: Well, I inherited a house that – from a relative – that was built in 1960, so it has soffits above the cabinets. I still have the original kitchen. I mean everything: the floor, the counters, the appliances. You know, I know that in all the newer construction they’re using either cabinets that go from all the way to the ceiling or they have an empty space up there where people can display things.
I have a lot of dust allergies and I’m also a senior citizen. And so I don’t think I want that empty space up there that’s going to collect dust. I don’t want to have to be dealing with dusting that all the time and climbing up on a ladder.
NANCY: So I’m trying to figure out – do you think soffits will ever come back? Or is it easier just to have cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling, knowing that I’m probably never going to use those top shelves?
TOM: Well, actually, there is a way for you to use those top shelves, because there are ways that you can bring those shelves down to stack things on and put them back up. There’s cabinet designs where the entire shelf content pulls out and drops down and sort of hinges down and then it goes back up. They’re accessible kitchen cabinets that are made by a bunch of different manufacturers, so it is possible to even have high cabinets and be able to use that space if that’s a need for you.
NANCY: I’ve got two torn rotor cuffs in both shoulders, so I’m not even supposed to be reaching up high. So I don’t know how difficult it is to get those shelves to drop down.
TOM: Usually, there’s a handle that’s sort of like shoulder height where you reach out right in front of you and pull it towards you and then that whole thing drops down from there for accessible kitchen cabinets.
NANCY: Oh. Oh.
TOM: It’s all on springs so it supports itself. Called Rev-A-Shelf – R-e-v-A-Shelf. And their system is simply called a “cabinet pull-down shelving system.” So that type of system is available. The cabinet is basically completely empty and then the shelving system is put in and then again, you reach out, you pull it towards you and it drops down. And these things are strong enough for – you could have, like, canned goods on every single shelf and it’s still going to hold it, so that’s an option for you.
The other thing is, I think the dated part of the soffits, Leslie – and you correct me because you’re the decorator here – is where the soffit extends past the kitchen cabinet.
TOM: But you could sort of have a flush soffit that’s sort of flush with the front of the kitchen cabinet that wouldn’t give you that sort of ugly overhang, right?
NANCY: Mine is flush with the current cabinet.
TOM: OK. Well, then maybe you ought to think about just keeping it the way it is and painting it to sort of blend.
LESLIE: I like having the soffit, because then it just fills that space. So then you’re not thinking about putting stuff up there, which then be – then it’s just a dust collector.
LESLIE: So if you’re going to get rid of the soffit, you really need to think about what is the purpose of that space above it. “Am I just extending the cabinet higher? Am I putting in some glass?” Something that makes it purposeful.
But I’m telling you, with these accessible kitchen cabinets that Tom has mentioned, they operate smoothly. They really are helpful. Any person can have one regardless of abilities, so it really will make your life so much easier.
NANCY: And it’s just spelled R-e-v as in victor or R-e-b as in boy?
TOM: Nope, R-e-v as in victor. Rev-A-Shelf.
LESLIE: Like rev your engine.
TOM: Like revolving shelf, like that kind of thing.
NANCY: OK. Well, that’s going to be exciting for me to check out. My other question that I was going to going to be asking you was – as an aging senior that has some macular degeneration that – it’s the slow-developing kind but still, I know it’s coming because relatives have had this and lost vision. Would you recommend contacting an architect or is there a certain type of contractor that would be good to help me design this new kitchen?
TOM: So, to design your kitchen, you might want to use the services of a certified kitchen-and-bath designer. That’s a designation that is sought through the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Guys that have the certified kitchen-and-bath design designation are very, very competent at designing kitchens and bathrooms that meet those specific needs that you mentioned.
NANCY: Well, I appreciate all this good advice. Thank you so much.