Universal design: Great features for the whole family
Many people think that universal design (a design concept that makes places and products accessible for people with and without disabilities) is only for older folks who want to “age in place.”
In fact, these common sense tweaks to any remodel will make your home — especially your bathroom — work better for everyone.
Here are some universal design features that will make living in your home easier for all ages.
Most interior doors are between 32 and 34 inches wide. Doors based on this new design concept are mostly 36 inches wide to provide easy access for wheelchair users. The wider doors also are good for toddlers who need a little support from Mom until they perfect the ‘walking thing.’
Make sure your doors open out and can lay flat against the wall.
Shrimpy, 14-inch high toilet seats are hard to navigate if you’ve got bad knees or use a wheelchair. Even if your legs are working just fine, these toilets often are uncomfortable.
Universal toilet specifications are 16 to 17 inches (with seat) high. They’re called “comfort height toilets” because they are, well, more comfortable for everyone.
They sound institutional, but we all need a little assistance now and then when climbing out of the tub or off the toilet.
When you remodel, ask your home contractor to install plywood under the sheet rock, which provides a sturdy anchor for the bars you might need down the road.
One tip: Don’t install grab bars before you need them, because you won’t know where you’ll need them most until the time comes.
Those shower curbs are a trip hazard for everyone, and they’re not needed in most bathrooms.
When you remodel the bathroom, ask your tile installer to slope the shower floor slightly toward the drain, which will keep water from flowing into the rest of the room.
Not only are curbless showers more practical, they have a clean and contemporary look.
Instead of putting round handles on doors, use lever handles that are easier to grip for young and older hands.
• Ovens with swing-out, rather than pull-out doors.
• Adjustable-height sinks that raise and lower electronically.
• High cabinet kick plates that will elevate dishwashers: This minimizes bending and makes loading easier.
• Roll-out cabinet shelves.
Universal design doesn’t have to look like hospital living. Many manufacturers of bathroom fixtures are incorporating these types of design features, like grab bars, into contemporary designs.
You won’t even know they’re there.
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