When you think of aging-in-place or accessible option, do you think of the disability-accessible bathroom in Walmart? You’re not alone. Accessible features weren’t so attractive a few years back, but that is no longer true. Designers and contractors are working together to create spaces that have accessible options and you won’t even know it. Let’s walk through it together.
Common Misconceptions: Will My House Be Ugly with Accessible Options?
It’s a common misconception that designing an accessible kitchen or bathroom will be unsightly and more expensive. This is not the case. There are many attractive options that can be incorporated into the design.
Adding Universal Design elements to your space will not make your project more costly in the long run. The benefit of adding the features will allow all family members to use the space for a long time, as their lives continue to evolve. All that is required is thoughtful planning.
Another thing to note is that Universal Design does not only mean Handicap Accessible. Universal Design means designing the space to be accessible to anyone using it. This incorporates family members of all ages, all heights, any with limited mobility, and so forth. Adding lever-handled door hardware or curb-free showers are just two of the many options available.
Universal Design also means designing with children in mind. Some clients have small children and want them to use the space independently, so refrigerator drawers are a convenient, easily reachable option for children. Raising or lowering countertop heights for taller or shorter people is also popular. Universal Design is exactly what it sounds like, design with everyone in mind.
Accessible Bathroom Options
Slipping one wet tiles when getting in and out of the shower or tub is a main concern regarding bathroom safety. Bathrooms in general, create situations where accidents can happen due to hard, slippery surfaces and often a wet environment. What can you do to ensure your Bathroom is accessible and safer?
- Contracting tile and grout colors help with eyesight challenges by giving depth and contrast so that different areas and surfaces are easier to visually identify.
- A zero-barrier or curb-free shower eliminates the risk of stepping over a barrier on wet tiles. This entry also makes it easier for anyone who has had a knee or hop challenge, or those that may need the assistance of a wheelchair.
- The barrier free under-sink area for wheelchair accessibility will allow homeowners ease of pulling the chair right up to the vanity and using the sink and countertop.
Accessible Kitchen Options
Simple things like wider doorways and lower countertops can make the space wheelchair, child, or those with shorter height, user-friendly. One seemingly minor thing you can do in a kitchen to make it more accessible is raising some of the appliances such as ovens and dishwashers to a more comfortable height.
The raised height allows easier access without leaning over the appliance to load or remove dishes or get your items out of the oven. It’s also harder to turn knobs on faucets as we age, so installing a single-lever kitchen faucet will be an excellent investment in the long run.
Importance of Designer/Contractor Relationship
Like all remodeling projects, the most important part is assembling your team. This is especially true when looking to make your home more accessible or incorporate more accessible universal designs.
If you’re worried that accessible options won’t look attractive, hire a remodeler with experience with universally designed projects, and works with a designer to ensure beauty and design are kept in mind. Be sure to bring up your desire to incorporate Universal Design in your project when interviewing contractors and designs. Clarity and good communication between all team members is the key to making form and function live together happily ever after.