Recently, I was honored to have an opportunity to guest host the weekly Twitter chat #DesignLUX along with our new friends at BuildEffective.com, taking a closer look at aging-in-place and accessibility in the luxury marketplace. Twitter chats are a lot of fun to attend, are very informative and can be a great way to participate in relevant conversations with colleagues. The down side is that they can be fast moving and it can sometimes be hard to keep up with everyone's questions and comments. Since aging-in-place and accessibility is a broad topic that affects all walks of life, I thought it would be great to spend a little more time expanding on a few key topics that were discussed that week. Take a quick look around your home...If you or a loved one had a physical limitation such as a wheelchair, crutches, a walker, arthritis, or diminished vision, what barriers do you see that could possibly keep you from living there?
Surprisingly, in almost every home, barriers exist which can inhibit those with physical limitations. Staircases, bathrooms, and kitchens are all areas of the home that often fall short of providing full functionality to those with limited physical and mental abilities.
Stairs may be the most obvious home barrier for those with physical limitations. Unfortunately, most multistory homes are typically designed with the main bathrooms and bedrooms on upper floors, eliminating or limiting access to these oft-used spaces for persons with physical limitations. If access is limited due to stairs, consider adding a master bedroom and bathroom to the main floor by converting unused office space, garage bays or covered patio spaces into beautiful master suites. Other options available for multistory homes include residential elevators and stair chair lifts. Check out these beautiful residential additions by Seattle based www.olympicelevator.com.
Design flaws in the kitchen such as cabinet heights, lack of knee-spaces, and improperly sized hardware may limit accessibility and day-to-day functionality, especially if you are confined to a wheelchair or are unable to grab hold, reach or bend. One way to address kitchen barriers is by lowering or eliminating upper cabinets and adding more functional hardware. Consider full extension pull out drawers and work stations, using pulls in place of knobs, and incorporating under-counter appliances such as refrigerators, microwaves, and drawer dishwashers for ease of use and user convenience. Our friends at www.Perlick.com offer stylish choices in ADA accessible under-counter refrigeration that would be an attractive addition to any kitchen design. Additional considerations should be incorporated into the kitchen work areas such as adding multilevel counter heights and moving electrical outlets and switches to a height convenient for those who’ll use them the most.
Like barriers in the kitchen, bathrooms often present their own unique set of barriers for persons with physical limitations – toilet height, tub height, shower access, maneuverability within the space, and vanity access are some of the common barriers found in the typical home bath. Incorporating knee & under-counter space, pull-type hardware, full extension drawers and pull outs, as well as utilizing multilevel counter heights, lowering electrical outlets and switches, curb-less “roll”-in showers, comfort height toilets, and automated temperature controls can help eliminate the common barriers normally present in the bath. Those who prefer a bath in lieu of a shower may want to consider a walk-in tub. However, keep in mind that they can be fairly expensive and may require upgraded plumbing and hot water supply in order to fill and empty the tub in a timely manner.
Stay tuned as we continue to recap our conversation focused on Accessibility in the Luxury Marketplace. Until then, what barriers did you identify in your home? We would love to hear your thoughts!
Best, Corinne Gail
Corinne Gail Interior Design did not receive compensation for this post. All images copyright Corinne Gail Interior Design unless otherwise noted and may not be used without permission.