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Empty Nester Kitchen:

Imagined for a baby boomer couple’s dream home, this kitchen combines inspired style and functionality that goes the distance. Midwest Livingsenior home editor Carol Schalla designed the space for the Meredith Corporation’s Design Idea Center at K/BIS 2008. “This space is all about aging in place,” says Schalla, “but it doesn’t look it.”



Throughout the sleek, contemporary kitchen, cool tones of gray and stark white set a canvas for vibrant colors in the Ocean Blue countertops and green accents. High-gloss cabinets and stainless steel appliances add an element of sparkle that contrasts with rustic faux-stone walls and marble countertops. Dark cherry wood cabinets add drama and warmth to the space.


The kitchen’s layout was designed to make moving around comfortable for people of any age. Wide traffic paths were incorporated for wheelchair accessibility and the cabinets were raised and lowered for more comfortable working heights in different task areas.



Many cabinets and drawers feature pull-out shelving, which brings items into plain view and also helps keep them better organized. A rolling cabinet tucked beneath the counter serves as a portable work station or storage for heavy appliances.


Schalla also chose the faucets, fixtures and appliances with an eye toward ease and accessibility in the kitchen. Pots and pans can be filled right at the stovetop with the counter-mounted pot filler, eliminating the strain of lugging heavy dishes. Schalla also added a foot control for hands-free functionality. The cooktop features touch controls that are simpler to operate than knobs.



The Prologue™ kitchen sink adds a recessed stainless steel counter space for convenient prep and cleanup. Food can be prepared on the sink’s incorporated work surface, making clean-up as simple as swiping the food scraps into the basin and rinsing with the sidespray.

Even the dishwasher was selected for ease of use. As Schalla explains, “We installed dishwasher drawers as opposed to a regular dishwasher, again to keep everything right at counter height; less bending, less reaching.”


For boomers who are likely downsizing from a larger home, an adjacent eating area provides an attractive and sensible alternative to a formal dining room.



Kitchen Design

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