Universal Design for All

Lisa Stewart Design Universal Design

Universal Design really means ‘design for all.’

The buzz in the industry is just amazing, as Universal Design goes mainstream and effectively becomes the new Green. Baby boomers caught in the middle caring for their parents and grandchildren are realizing it’s just better design for everyone.

U.D. is becoming cutting edge, even trendy. This is NOT your grandmother’s institutional-looking nursing home anymore! Manufacturers have introduced luxury lines all geared for the baby boomers’ tastes.

Industry experts say the best time to age-proof a house is during building or remodeling — before disabilities require it. Here are a few steps you can take in that direction.
– You should be able to easily push a wheelchair and baby stroller through entries that are step-less and covered. All doorways should be least 36 inches wide.
– Reduce reaching by having outlets 18 inches above the finished floor and all switches placed 36 to 44 inches high.
– Reduce bending with waist-level access and pull-out storage and appliances in specially designed kitchen and bath cabinets.
– Avoid falling risks with grab bars and raised toilets that glow in the dark.
– Avoid having to use stairs with an elevator accessing all floors.

According to a recent AARP study about 80 percent of Americans age 45 and older prefer to “age in place” — that is, to remain in their current homes and communities. To get started, make accessibility a priority by remodeling the bathroom first. You will end up with a gorgeous, light-filled room that will keep you and your family safe in the home you love for years. The photo above highlights a few Universal Design ideas for the bathroom.

Lisa Stewart is an interior designer serving the Triangle area of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, NC.

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