Mar 12, 2012

Invisibly universal design.

When you're planning a home, you should consider the long-term use. As you raise your family and bring aging parents to stay, there are multiple features that can be added now that maintain function over the years and add value if a sale is desired. The savvy incorporation of accessible features is key.

1) Conceal ramps to access the home with landscaping, porches, and even symmetry to a door or garage when adding one. A wide, gently sloping and meandering path can also serve as a ramp.
2) Just inside the door, include a "memory niche" cabinet, or landing shelf for dropping off keys, cellphones, wallets and the like, so they aren't forgotten or lost.

3) Wider doorways and hallways; at least 36" for doors and 4" for hallways is ideal for walkers, crutches, and wheelchairs.

4) Hardware on doors and cabinets that's easy to open with your hands full, if you have arthritis or other disability,yet that look beautiful in use. 

5) Remove or reduce all doorway thresholds.
6) Eliminate obstructions when moving from room to room....say between the kitchen and adjoining rooms (living dining).

7) Add office-type storage, computer space, charging stations, etc... in the kitchen or a wide hallway.

8) Prep showers and toilet rooms for grab bars. There are many that don't look industrial, and can come in handy for young children and injured adults.

9) Be sure to incorporate good hallway and stairway lighting and bright task lighting in kitchens, baths and laundry rooms. Using energy saving bulbs, dimmers, and a good lighting plan.  Consider occupancy and vacancy sensors, They're ideal for the young as well as the old!
10) Stagger height of counters in baths and kitchens.  So they can be easily accessed by young children,the physically challenged, and make it easier to use long-term.