How to Use Universal Design in Your Custom Home
Do you plan to age in place or have impaired mobility? Use universal design to make your home more accessible.
There are several benefits of universal design. It allows people with reduced ability to care for themselves with little or no intervention. It has a positive impact on the quality of life in people with mobility impairments.
Using Universal Design in Your Custom Home
Overall Design Considerations
Mobility-impaired people experience difficulties when climbing stairs up and down. For this reason, universal design limits the use of stairs. Where stairs are required, install handrails on both sides to ensure people with reduced mobility can get up and down easily and safely.
Install automated lighting systems designed to maintain visibility without wasting energy. An automated lighting system turns lights on or off automatically depending on whether the area is occupied or unoccupied.
Outlets and switches should be placed in an area where everyone can operate them, irrespective of their level of mobility.
Replace traditional doorknobs, handles, and cabinet pulls with the ones that are designed to be used with a closed fist. Doorways should be 32-36 inches wide, whereas hallways should be 42-48 inches wide.
In the Living Area and Bedrooms
The living area and bedrooms should be wheelchair accessible. Provide access around ¾ of the bed to allow a wheelchair user to choose their side of the bed.
For smaller bedrooms, push the bed against the wall to create more room. Install lights and night lamps in bedrooms to help ensure individuals can move around without bumping into objects at night.
In the Bath
Use non-skid mats in the bath and tub. If your home has multiple levels, the bathroom should be on the main level.
Install multiple shower heads. With a rain shower in the center, and a conventional showerhead and a handheld shower on either side, people with varying levels of mobility will be able to use the shower.
The shower area must have enough room for proper drainage. Replace conventional faucets with the ones that can be operated with a closed fist.
In the Kitchen
Place the refrigerator, stove, and sink in close proximity. Reduce the number of steps needed to move food from one area to another. All bottom storage of cabinets should be accessible between knee and shoulder height.
Reduce the height of upper cabinets to countertop level. Provide enough space for a wheelchair user to move around easily and safely.
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