What Is Universal Design? And Why It’s Important for Your Remodel

Universal Design

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) says “remodeling trends may come and go, but one trend has evolved into an important design movement.” Universal design. This involves products and spaces that are designed so that they can be used by the widest range of people possible — young, old and everyone in between! Universal design projects include: zero barriers (no steps), wide hallways, open living spaces and entryways in all rooms to accommodate wheelchairs, hardwood flooring and easy-to-access drawers, among other things.

Why should you consider universal design for your next home or room remodel? It’s an investment in the future. By remodeling with universal design in mind, you are ensuring that your home is accessible and safe for your multigenerational family, whether you need it to be that way now or five or 10 years from now. Even the fittest amongst us goes through childhood, possibly times of temporary illness, injury and old age. By designing for this broad spectrum of living, your home will be easier for everyone to use.

The following are a few great examples of successful universal design to inspire your own home remodel.

Bathrooms
The bathroom pictured above shows us that just because you’re making a shower more accessible (aka adding a bench, hand railing, easily reachable knobs and good lighting) doesn’t mean that you need to scrimp in any way on the style. How chic is this shower?

Universal Design

Kitchens
This is one of the most highly trafficked and important areas in your home. There are several considerations to make here. The first is the lay of the land — an open floor plan with as little in the way as possible. Forty-two inches to 48 inches between counters is optimal to allow for more than one cook in the kitchen (one maybe in a wheelchair) at a time without banging into each other or cabinets. If you have room for an island with seating, make the counter 30-inches high to offer optimal seating for everyone, regardless of age (kiddos, included) or mobility. And don’t forget the inside of those cabinets, either — think ‘easy access’ to everything from plates to spices.

Universal Design

Elevators
If you have a home with several floors, you might consider installing an elevator at some point. Just think how much easier it would be for luggage and laundry purposes alone! While elevators aren’t inexpensive, they are important for mobility for any seniors or disabled family members living in your home now or in the future.

Universal Design

Entryways
When remodeling entryways and driveways, choose a gentle slope without any trip hazards to make it easy for those with walkers, crutches or wheelchairs to get in and out of your home. Materials don’t have to be limited to wood or concrete — consider stone, flagstone, bluestone and pavers, which all offer solid footing and gripping contact.

Need help with a universal design remodel or have any questions? We would be happy to assist you! Just give us a call or leave a message in the comments section below.

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