Something that has become a trending topic in the design world is creating spaces that have a universal design for ease of use. Luckily by that, we don’t mean putting your kitchen and your bath in the same room (yikes). A universally designed space is a space that uses products, elements and design rules that make it useable to people of all ages, abilities and sizes. Universal design elements can be added into your remodel to allow for better “age-in-place” functionality.
Principles of Universal Design
If you are planning to add these elements into your new remodel, there are seven basic guidelines to follow that were established in 1997 by a group of advocates of Universal Design.
- Equitable Use – The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities
- Flexibility in Use – The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
- Simple and Intuitive Use – Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
- Perceptible Information – The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions of the user’s sensory abilities.
- Tolerance for Error – The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
- Low Physical Effort – The design can be used efficiently and comfortably with a minimum of fatigue.
- Size and Space for Approach and Use – Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture or mobility.
How to Add in Universal Design Elements
When designing for your kitchen or bath remodel, remember that you could potentially stay in the space as you grow older. Adding design elements now eliminates the need to change or update in the future. Keep in mind that universal design does not have to skimp on style and luxury. A couple of great ways to add universal design elements into your home are:
- Pull out step underneath bottom cabinets
- Lever faucet handles or touch-to-use faucets
- Extra wide doorways
- Under cabinet or task lighting
- Open floor plans with wide walkways
- Shower with body sprays on the walls
- Roll out shelves in cabinets and pantries
- Front controls for stoves
- Larger displays on appliances