Many of us will require special accommodations to our homes as we age or due to an illness or accident, to make them more livable. Livable Design blends style, function and convenience by modifying an existing home or by building a new home to meet your needs over the long term. Designer Premier has Ageing in Place Specialists that can help you understand your options, the costs involved and help you live independently.
For a complimentary consultation please call us at 303.916.9515 or email.
There are many things to consider when you are modifying your home. Here are some guidelines.
Entries and Thresholds: These should be well lit and free of area rugs and obstacles. There should be at least one “Zero Step” threshold which allows a wheelchair to roll right into the home. It should be easily accessible from the street. Lighting is critical; add a sensor light at exterior no-step entry focusing on the front-door lock. Install non-slip flooring in foyer and have a surface to place packages on when opening door. An entry door sidelight or high/low peep hole viewer; sidelight should provide both privacy and safety.
Doors and Pathways: Remove any doors that are not necessary and keep pathways wide. Be sure to define floor changes with visual contrast and door handles should be lever style to make them easy to open. To accommodate a wheel chair, doors should be a minimum of 32” (Ideally 36”) and hallways should be a minimum of 42” (ideally 48”).
Lighting: It is importance to watch for glare which can cause accidents and to layer the light for task and ambiance. Window coverings should be put on a remote to be easier and safer to control/adjust lighting during the day.
Seating: When selecting seating it is important to have handles that come to the front of the seat which will make it easier to get out of.
Kitchens: Cabinets should be designed to allow easy access with large drawers and base cabinets with roll outs and lazy-suzans. Select pull-down shelving and place the upper wall cabinetry three inches lower than conventional height when possible. Use solid surface materials for the countertops with carrying heights. There should be 42” between counters. Faucets are the easiest to maneuver when they have leaver handles and pull outs. Thermostatic or anti-scald controls are useful features. Lower appliances like the microwave and raise the dishwasher and be sure that buttons are easy to read and push.
Bathrooms: It is important to eliminate any thresholds and shower curtains and to add texture to benches to prevent falls.
Cabinets should be multiple heights (30” -36”) to allow for different tasks. Consider hi-style toilets that sit 18”-21” height. The tub should have an area to sit and swing legs into the tub instead of stepping over an edge. Provide grab bars and slip resistance flooring as well as a hand held shower, shampoo niche and scones for extra light. Radiant heated floors and half walls in open showers help with loss of heat.
Electrical, Lighting, Safety and Security: Light switches (Rocker or touch light switches), thermostats and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor. There needs to be a clear access space of 30 inches by 48 inches in front of switches and controls. Easy-to-see and read thermostats and pre-programmed thermostats with electrical outlets 15 inches on center from floor are important. Install a high-tech security/intercom system that can be monitored, with the heating, air conditioning and lighting, from any TV in the house. Security with a direct wired to police, fire, and a flashing porch light or 911 switch. Add an audible and visual strobe light system to indicate when the doorbell, telephone or smoke or CO2 detectors have been activated.
Dwell Magazine highlights universal design with a story about a renovated modern home in Seattle that features universal access space planning and ADA compliance. (9/15/2010). Click here
30 publications created over the past 20 years, all of them still relevant and useful, were published in the first issue of the Design Research and Methods Journal.
Several articles that were only available via mail order are now free to access online, and several other articles targeted specifically towards people with disabilities are now in accessible PDF format. A list of recommended articles can be found here.