Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today

Introducing RealPad

The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More



Contests and



Military and Veterans Discount




Popular Articles


FAQs for Kitchen Design Webinar

Make your dreams come true with these common questions on kitchen design

Thanks for all of your great questions during our recent Kitchen Design Webinar! Below are answers from AARP staff and our webinar presenter, Rosemary Bakker. We hope these provide additional help as you plan for your future kitchen needs. For more information, visit view our latest Livable Communities Awards page or

See also: What a winning kitchen looks like.

Cabinets/Countertops/General Kitchen Materials

Q: What is a reasonable life span for traditional wood cabinets, in terms of fading from sunlight exposure, dryness, etc?

A: The life span for cabinets varies widely depending on the quality of the original materials and workmanship. Cabinets rated low might last 15 years; those rated excellent might stay in good shape for as long as 35 years. (Source: Home Repair and Remodel Cost Guide, Marshall & Swift)

Q: What is the height trend for cabinets? Do you set them right up against the ceiling, or do you make them look more modern by lowering them from the ceiling?

A: So much depends on your storage needs and the height of your kitchen ceiling. One trend in kitchens with high ceilings is to install fluorescent tube lighting (hidden) on top of the upper cabinets. Make sure there is at least 12 inches of space between the ceiling and the upper cabinets. This is a great and inexpensive way to add lighting to the kitchen. Whatever your choice, make sure you can easily and safely access storage on the upper shelves. One way to do that is to add pull-down shelving units. It's an ergonomic way to access items on higher shelves.  

Q: Where can I find slide-out shelving and drawers for cabinets?

A: Many manufacturers make high-quality slide-out cabinet storage units for both base and upper cabinets. Your best bet is to visit local home and kitchen remodeling stores and see which ones work for your situation. Consider full-extension glides for sliding drawers and shelves. Full extension means that you have full use of the drawer; you can pull it out completely, which gives you more usable space for storage and allows you to see everything inside the drawer.

Q: How can I check that the cabinets, flooring, countertops, etc. are made of safe, non-toxic materials?

A: Refer to the U.S. Green Building Council website at

Q: How can I find out the cost of upgrades to my kitchen, like adding pull-out shelves, replacing all the cabinetry and so on?

A: Go to, which has many links to other cost estimation tools. You can also go to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry website or call a certified aging-in-place (CAPS) contractor. Go to for more information.

Q: Do wood floors scratch easily?

A: Although wood floors are susceptible to scratches and dents, and will show wear especially in heavily trafficked areas, you can refinish them by sanding and applying a protective finish. Choose an environmentally friendly low-VOC (volatile organic compound) finish.

Next: Recommendations for refrigerators, microwaves, etc »

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

grocery coupon center member benefit aarp

Members can print savings coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by

Member Benefits Discounts Angie's List

Members can save 25% to 45% on their Angie's List membership.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.


Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points