Universal Design Is For Everyone
Universal design creates livable, workable environments for everyone, regardless of age, size or ability—for those
who are short, tall, young and old.
According to a recent survey by the National Association
of Home Builders (NAHB), approximately two-thirds of
Baby Boomers wish to “age in place,” but that might not be
possible in your current home. Many existing homes, or the
home that you might be living in now, were not designed
to accommodate the changing capabilities and needs of their
owners. Boomers around the country now seek homes that
can accommodate their current and future needs so they can
“age in place” in a new home designed with them in mind.
Hanley Wood’s survey revealed that Boomers prefer a
smaller, more luxurious, one-level floor plan that is high-tech,
functional, low-maintenance and energy-efficient. Creating a
comfortable, flexible space is paramount and it’s affordable.
Here are a few things to consider:
Low-maintenance exteriors of brick, stucco or composite
materials reduce painting and repair. For landscaping, try
xeriscaping—planting low maintenance shrubs and plants
that only require rainwater. Or, you may want to consider
purchasing in a neighborhood that offers maintenance-free
Limit the number of steps in your home
It’s easy to trip and fall with even a small step into the
home. Use gradual ramps (that don’t look like a ramp) to
get from the driveway or garage into the home. One-level
living makes it easier for all ages. Or, if you prefer a multi-level home, consider installing an elevator.
Windows & Doors
Choose wide doors ( 36” minimum on entry doors) with
levered door handles. It’s easier to just push down than to
turn a knob. Entry doors should contain a sidelight (pro-
viding privacy and safety). Place doorbells at an accessible
height and include a sensor light at the entry. Crank-opened
windows are also preferable.
Open Floor Plan
Limit the number of hallways in your home. An open floor
plan with great room, dining area and open kitchen create not
only a spacious feeling, but enables easy access for all. Hallways
should be at least 42” wide or wider.
Install more floor cabinets and fewer upper cabinets.
Manufacturers also make easy to use pull down upper cabinets. Use pull-out shelves in the pantry.
Vary counter heights to accommodate standing or sitting.
Elevate dishwashers 8” above the floor to facilitate loading
and unloading. Where appropriate, consider using smaller
appliances that are lightweight and easier to grip. Double
door refrigerators with easy to grip handles work well. And,
make sure the controls are on the front of the stove.
Design your bathroom adjacent to the bedroom and include seating to make it easier to dress. Add grab bars to
make baths and showers more accessible and to reduce the
likelihood of falls.
Use slip-resistant bathroom surfaces. Install easy-mainte-nance vanity counters. Allow for easy access under counters.
Raise the level of toilet seats. Install a walk-in shower with
curbless entry and a hand-held shower set. It’s also a good
idea to include a bench or seat in the shower. Avoid installing whirlpools or spas if they are too difficult to get in and
out of. Use lever faucets as knobs are hard to use. Locate
shower and tub controls close to the point of entry. |