Universal Design Makes Your Home Easily Accessible To All

The goal of universal design is to create a living space which anticipates a homeowner’s growing needs. In other words, it grows through the life changes as you “age in place”, a commonly used term. The theory of universal design is that everyone, regardless of their age, size, or ability, can safely and effectively use a space. We want your living space to span across all generations, allowing all to use the space comfortably and to its fullest.

Two universal design concepts are reachability and elimination of tripping hazards. Our own design manager, Dennis Reitz, discusses this concept. “You don’t want to have to stoop low or reach too high,” says Reitz. Integrating these changes allows for those with mobility issues as well as young children to enjoy all aspects of the home.

  1. Consider Doors and Windows. A traditional doorknob can make it difficult to open the door if you are carrying bags of groceries. A lever-style doorknob makes it easy to open the front door using only your elbow. Casement, awning-style or latch windows are much easier to lock or unlock; some may have difficulties in lifting and latching a double-hung window.
  2. Your Layout Should Be Open. Having a first-floor bedroom and bath is important, as it provides the key factor of “one-level living” should you need it. Anyone in your household can break a leg or have surgery; it will make it much easier on everyone if they can easily access the home without the need to go up and down stairs.
  3. Storage Accessibility. Storage should be easily accessible, not impede on floor space, and make it easier to find what you’re looking for. Opting for built-in storage in tighter rooms (i.e. a playroom or office), can reduce clutter and free up floor space. Adjustable shelving systems can be installed inside closets to help make them clutter-free, as well as allow the simplification of finding items.
  4. Update Lighting. “As people age, their eyesight diminishes. The brighter the lighting, the more functional and safer [the space is],” says Reitz. Dimmers are important in your home, as they allow you to adjust the brightness of a room. Motion-sensing lights are equally as important and can be used in bathrooms, basements or even staircases. An automatic fixture means you don’t have to fumble for a light switch in the middle of the night and helps to reduce the chances of falling.
  5. Smart Home Technology. The addition of smart home technology makes your home easily controlled via remote. With this feature, you can control your refrigerator, thermostat, talk to someone through the front door, security system, or even your garage door while you’re in your bedroom or on vacation.
  6. Make Flooring Seamless. Transitions from room to room can be a tripping hazard if a throw rug is used. Using low-pile, densely woven carpet in your living room and bedroom will reduce the possibility of tripping as well as provide easy transition between rooms.
  7. Installing Accessible Bathroom Fixtures. The number one place for accidents in your home is the bathroom. Easily accessible bathroom fixtures can alleviate the tripping hazards that all-too-commonly occur in the bathroom. Using grab bars as well as separating the shower and tub are two key accessibility factors to consider when upgrading a bathroom. Faucets should also be clearly marked red (hot) or blue (cold) to reduce the possibly of scalding hazards.
  8. Exterior And Garage Updates Should Be Planned. There should be at least one entranceway into your home which doesn’t require the use of stairs. That entranceway could be through your garage or through a side door. If you have a front porch or back deck, those should also be protected with railings or another type of perimeter protection such as bushes to eliminate the possibility of someone misjudging where to step, not seeing the boundary.

Dennis was recently recognized in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. You may read the entire article here, which contains more helpful tips on creating a versatile living space. We hope you feel inspired to incorporate universal design concepts into your home!

Our team is ready to assist you in reaching your goals of making your home easily accessible to all. Golden Rule Builders can help you make your design dreams come true with our expertise and experience in custom home building. Our expert builders are ready to make your home sparkle in 2024 through our remodeling services for your kitchen, living room, bathroom and more. Reach out to us today!