When looking for ideas for remodeling your home, you may have heard the term Universal Design. What exactly does that mean?
Universal Design is the concept of making living areas accessible and safe for all – young, old, and every age in between, as well as people with physical limitations. Using Universal Design principles is a great idea when you update your home, whether you have younger children who would could benefit from easy-to-reach light switches and floors that aren’t slippery, or you are an empty-nester who wants to live in your home as long as possible.
Since beauty is as important as function, a home that incorporates Universal Design will be aesthetically pleasing, as well as being an especially comfortable and convenient place to live or visit. The features that make it more inclusive can also be elegant and up-to-the-minute stylish.
4 ways to include Universal Design
Safe and accessible bathrooms are best for everyone, no matter their age. Lever-style faucet handles, detachable hand-held showerheads, curbless walk-in showers, and anti-scald devices on sinks, tubs and showers can all be included in a bath that still maintains the elegance of a day spa.
Varying counter heights is a great place to begin. Having a portion of the counter that’s table-height rather than barstool-height will make it easier to pull a high chair or a wheel chair up to it. Cabinets with lazy susans and pullout shelves are simply more convenient for anyone to use, plus there are many options available that also make storage better. Install faucets, door knobs, and drawer pulls that pass what’s referred to as the “closed fist test.” If you can open the door or drawer with your fist closed, it is likely that anyone will be able to use it. This might mean a lever-type handle for a door, or a single-handle or touchless faucet.
Lighting is another very important part of Universal Design. General design features to include throughout the home are adequate task lighting, increased lighting on stairways, and light switches and electrical outlets that can be reached from a seated position. A well-lit front entry is not only safer for guests to use, but is recommended by police as being more secure against unwanted intruders.
Entries and Doorways
Making doorways and halls wider allows easier access for wheelchairs or baby strollers. Include, if possible, at least one no-step entry into the home. Interior thresholds should be no higher than 1/4″ with flooring materials that are either hard, even surfaces (such as hardwood) or low-pile carpeting.
Remember, the whole concept of a “universally” designed home is that it works well for everyone: young or old, able or disabled, and all those in between. If you have any questions about Universal Design or you’d like to know more about how it can improve your home and lifestyle, please contact us and we will help you decide which features might be appropriate for you and your family.