You don’t have to give up the home you love as you get older. You can make your home safe, comfortable, and accessible… without sacrificing any of the elements you love about it.
Whether due to age or other health factors, people often find it increasingly difficult to move around in their homes as they grow older. It’s harder to get in the bathtub; cabinet doors aren’t as easy to reach as they once were; the lighting in the home isn’t as adequate as it once seemed; and so on…
What Is Universal Design?
With Universal Design I help create an environment that is accessible to older people, young children, people without disabilities, and people with disabilities. It enables anyone to live in a home independently, safely, and comfortably. Every aspect of your home - from your bathroom to your kitchen to your living room - can be renovated through Universal Design to meet YOUR needs.
The notion that grab bars are only for the elderly or disabled is really inaccurate, as anyone can slip in a shower. The design and incorporation of grab bars in showers and around tubs can add to the look as well as the safety of the individual. If the client is hesitant to install grab bars during the shower renovation, I suggest installing the wood blocking behind the shower tile, so grab bars can be easily installed at a future date.
Here’s How Universal Design Can Make Your Home Safer and More Usable for All
Designing a Universal Design bathroom takes the following into account:
- 36-inch height counters for men and women
- Counter and storage space within easy reach
- Lighting positioned for best visibility for all users
- Comfort height commode for easier use
- Elongated bowls for easier use
- 18 inches from the wall for a centerline
- Grab bars for stability
- Low-curb or curbless
- Hand-held shower units with glide bars to adjust height
- Grab bars for stability
- Bench for seating
- Anti-scald thermostatic valves to regulate hot and cold water
- Non-slip shower floor due to small tiles
- Seating place for entering and exiting tub
- Mounted handles on the front of the tub off to the side
- Grab bars for easier entrance and exit
Kitchens - Designing for Multiple Generations
Consider designing for multiple generations if you have parents or grandchildren living in your home. Elements of Universal Design would enhance the ability of all living and working in the kitchen, including:
- Plenty of counter space for placing items, safety, and working
- Accessible storage, including tall storage, rollout shelving and drawers with accessories
- Cooking space with easy to see and use controls in the front of unit
- Electric cooking for safety
- Kitchen faucets with lever handle and easy to understand: hot and cold
- French-door refrigerator with easy access and less bending
- Task lighting
Make Your Two Most Important Rooms Great
Of course, there are just as many options for bathroom and kitchen design as there are people in the world, and at times, the choices may seem overwhelming. The key is to understand your needs and wants, and then design with that in mind. The more you do, the happier you’ll be with the end product.