If you’re building a new home or tearing into a remodel, give some thought to universal design.
For many, images of aging and accessibility come to mind when they hear the words “universal design.” While those things coined the term, universal design makes homes easier to navigate, more convenient, and safer for everyone, regardless of physical ability or age. You can make your home more comfortable and plan for the future by integrating some simple elements of universal design. Here are some ideas…
Lever Handles and Pulls
Install lever door knobs and pulls instead of knobs on kitchen cabinets and drawers. In addition to making doors and drawers easier to open for arthritic hands, they make opening and closing them easier for everyone.
Countertops of different heights are more accessible to everyone, including those who use a wheelchair. They are also handy for families with more than one cook, for example when a very tall parent is working with a smaller child to prepare food. In addition, countertops that are positioned low can make certain tasks, like rolling dough, more comfortable from an ergonomic perspective.
When shopping for a shower head, choose an adjustable-height model that’s comfortable for everyone in the family. It’s also smart to install anti-scald valves (also called pressure balancing valves) to regulate water temperature. If you’ve ever been showering and scalded by hot (or cold) water when someone else flushes a toilet or runs water, you know why. Sudden changes in temperature can also cause slipping or falling, especially for elderly or young family members.
Instead of a tub, make a walk-in shower part of your plan. Walk-in showers are highly accessible and are popular from a design standpoint too. Planning for potential future needs is smart too, so install blocks between the wall studs so grab bars can be added in later years, if needed.
As you can see, universal design is really for everyone, not to mention it’s hugely popular right now and some upgrades can increase the value of your home. For more information visit universaldesign.com or the National Center on Universal Design for Learning.