YOU ARE HERE: HeraldMail HomeCollectionsOven

Baby boomers make the most of a new generation of hardware

March 07, 2009|By CHRISTINE BRUN / Creators Services

No matter what anyone says, turning 60 is no fun. Some 58 million baby boomers no longer find it as appealing when they hear The Who's Roger Daltrey sing the line from "My Generation": "I hope I die before I get old."

Despite the popular media images of a more vibrant senior population, the changing physical needs of age exist for most of us. One thing that becomes apparent as we age is that our bodies don't work in the same splendid way they did when we were warning each other not to trust anyone over the age of 30.

Even with increased awareness of the benefits of exercise, not everyone is forever blessed with flexibility and muscle strength. So, one of the really great things about downsizing and designing a new home for your retirement years is the opportunity to build comfort and ease into the plans.

Once you boil a task down to its essence, you might find you can do it in less space. Rooms that are work centers - kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and even garages - rate extra focus. Just because you have lived with things arranged in a certain way for 40 years, doesn't mean that this is the gold standard. Over time, we sometimes just get used to a little awkwardness.


When trying to streamline, there are a few common kitchen chores that ought to be considered. They include loading and unloading the dishwasher, placing food in and taking it out of the oven and microwave, unloading groceries, and accessing cooking equipment.

When you design your own kitchen cabinets, there is no law that forbids you from placing a door at your optimum work height. Think of how wonderful it would be to load and unload the dishwasher without bending over. The same is true in our photo for the oven height.

Any kitchen and bath specialist will tell you the secret is to measure using your own body. What is the most comfortable height for you to stretch out your arms in front of you to place a heavy roast in the oven? Can you and your partner use the same dimensions, or do you need to establish some kind of compromise height?

Instead of squatting on your knees, which might be impossible at your age, seek the convenience of smooth drawer hardware that allows for easy pullout storage drawers.

There is European hardware that organizes pot lids or cleaning supplies on the backs of cabinet doors. You can create narrow pullouts for the storage of cooking oils, spices and condiments. Hafele and Blum are a major manufacturer of superior hardware accessories used by custom cabinet shops worldwide.

An online search will reveal the secrets of how European cabinets work. Why should you care? For centuries, the citizens of European cities have lived in smaller homes, so they have carefully studied how to coax function out of tight spaces.

Since 1927, ALNO has made living and working in the kitchen pleasant and more efficient. MyWay, shown in the photo, is an innovative range of fittings and features that allow ergonomics, flexibility and functionality to bring ease and comfort into everyday reality.

Swing-down interior features for easy access, base cabinets that rise up to meet you, wall units that slide lower to ease the loading heavy plates and platters, elevated work stations, retractable landings, height-adjustable table, fully accessible corner storage units, as well as a cabinet dedicated to the family pet with a tuck-away food and water bowel in the toe-kick are all possible.

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Big Ideas for Small Spaces." Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit

The Herald-Mail Articles