The concept of universal design continues to make inroads into remodeling and construction planning. With the aging of the Baby Boomers, it has gotten more attention as part of the “aging in place” conversation. While the universal design concepts themselves remain constant over time, the implementation of them through new products and ideas can be trendy and creative. Even if you’re not an aging Baby Boomer, if you’re remodeling, universal design makes good sense – both for your lifestyle and for resale.
Primary universal design concepts that are great for aging in place include a home with the living space all on one floor, a level entry way and an open floor plan for easy maneuvering. The elimination of steps from all entry access points makes it easy for people to come and go on foot, with an assisted device or on wheels. Ramps must abide by building codes for safety standards.
Easy maintenance is another key tenet of universal design. It’s also one of the primary reasons for moving from a home. If you want to age in place, your remodeling efforts should include materials and designs that help make maintenance easier. Some examples are antibacterial materials and finishes on countertops and floors and automated systems for ventilation, security and lighting
Bathroom and kitchen remodeling efforts incorporate universal design from cabinetry to sinks. Customers are choosing drawers and shelving for storage space instead of wall cabinets. This is not only a function of usability, it’s a safety and convenience feature. Tall wall cabinets leave unused storage space and pose an obstacle for reaching high places. Height-friendly storage is the trend. Sinks are featuring single-handle faucets set off to the side of the sink for easy on/off and space use. In the bathroom, the choice of toilets runs the gamut from height-adjusted units and self-closing seats to automatic flush. No-threshold showers reduce the risk of tripping and falling.
Incorporating just some elements of universal design in your home remodeling effort will make it more valuable to you and to any future owners.