You don’t have to be old or disabled to appreciate universal design. Done right, it makes life easier for everyone and without losing points for looks.

Some even see universal design as the opposite of early accessible design, which catered to those with physical limitations at the expense of everyone else. The old days were characterized by institutional, stainless steel grab bars and temporary switch-back ramps. Today universal is all about being inclusive and taking the long view. Dozens of small design decisions come together to make a space safer, more convenient and more flexible for all.

Whatever motivates you to remodel, never miss an opportunity to incorporate universal design principles. Don’t wait until you have had an accident or take in an elderly parent. Homes designed with accessibility, safety and convenience in mind are in high demand and the trend is only going to increase.  Click below to see what Elaine had to say about her new accessible kitchen.  Or read what the Star Tribune wrote about the project in its Home section on October 26, 2014.

VIDEO: Tomco Company client loves accessible kitchen

My Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) training encourages me to ask, “Why not and what else?” Here are some of my favorite universal design features:

Favorite Universal Design Features

  • Install more and brighter lights but put them on dimmers. At 60, the average person needs three times more light to see as when he or she was 20.
  • Specify levered door handles and plumbing controls rather than round knobs for grasp-free or hands-full operation.
  • Incorporate a curb-free pan, a seat and an adjustable handshower in the shower.
  • Install wider doors or offset hinges to accommodate wheelchairs
  • Incorporate multi-level countertops to accommodate
  • Install a touch faucet in the kitchen or bath
  • Avoid lower cabinet hardware and appliance handles that catch on clothing
  • Install plywood blocking behind bathroom walls to accommodate stylish grab bars that match plumbing fixture accessories.

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