Hear the words universal design, and your eyes might glaze over. Either you don’t know what it is, or you don’t think you need it. But the truth is, if you want your home to be a place that is comfortable, functional and safe, it needs to be a part of your remodel.
What Makes a Home Universal?
According to Oxford Universal Dictionaries, the word “universal” means “done by all people in a certain group.” So basically universal design is about creating a beautiful space that everyone, regardless of age, size, or ability, can live in or visit. A remodel with universal design will allow the home to grow with the family, as everybody’s needs and abilities change. It makes it easier for residents to live in, and for guests to visit now and in the future.
Who Should Think About Universal Design?
When you think about it, everyone! It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, short or tall, healthy or ill. You might have a disability. Or you may be a top athlete. Because of universal design, people who are very different can all enjoy the same home.
Let’s say you have a teenage son who is a six-foot tall high school basketball player and a 78-year-old mother-in-law who stays with you during the summer each year. Your hall bathroom has a standard bathtub/shower unit. But your son is too tall to fit comfortably under the shower head, and your mother-in-law has trouble safely stepping over the edge of the tub. If you redesign the bathroom with a walk-in tile shower and adjustable hand held sprayer, both your son and mother-in-law can safely and comfortably use the space.
Universal Design = Good Design
When you get right down to it, universal design is really just good design. Which is why it’s standard practice for BRHI. As the first Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) in southwest Virginia, we have the knowledge and technology to make sure your home stays friendly and accessible as you grow older.
Incorporating universal design features and products into your remodel makes good sense and can be so attractive that no one notices them — except for how easy they are to use. Some examples of universal design features include:
- No-step entry: At least one step-free entrance into your home — either through the front, back, or garage door—lets everyone, even those who use a wheelchair, enter the home easily and safely.
- Single-floor living: Having a bedroom, kitchen, full bathroom with plenty of maneuvering room, and an entertainment area on the same floor makes life convenient for all families.
- Wide doorways and hallways: With your home’s doorways at least 36 inches wide, you can easily move large pieces of furniture or appliances through your home. Similarly, hallways that are 42 inches wide and free of hazards or steps let everyone and everything move in, out, and around easily.
- Reachable controls and switches: Anyone — even a person in a wheelchair — can reach light switches that are from 42-48 inches above the floor, thermostats no higher than 48 inches off the floor, and electrical outlets 18-24 inches off the floor.
- Easy-to-use handles and switches: Lever-style door handles and faucets, and rocker light switches, make opening doors, turning on water, and lighting a room easier for people of every age and ability.
- An open floor plan, especially in the kitchen, bath and living areas
- Grab bars and hand holds in bathing areas
- Bright lighting in all areas
- Non-slip flooring at the main entryway
- Handrails at all steps
|Check out our portfolio of universal design remodels for ideas.
Find out about four easy and affordable ways to incorporate universal design in your home.
|Start by asking yourself these three questions as you plan your next project.
Get an idea of the remodeling process with our Advantage Remodeling System.
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