Most people 45+ want to stay in their current homes for as long as possible. Children, retirement, and grandchildren. What is the key that will allow you to live comfortably in your home for a lifetime? The answer is remodeling your home using Universal Design.
What is Universal Design? It is sometimes referred to as Livable Design or Better Design. It’s creating an environment that’s easy for everyone regardless of age, size, or ability. Universal design highlights convenience, simplicity, flexibility, and adaptability.
American homes are built for the “average” person. People are not “average”, they are who they are. For example, according to the latest census, the average:
- Household size is 2.5 people.
- The number of children in a family is 1.93.
- Height of a man is 5’9” and 5’4” for a woman.
- Weight for a man is 197.8 lbs. and 170.5 lbs. for a woman.
- Age of a first-time mother was 25 in 2000 and is now almost 31.
- Life expectancy is now almost 82 (80 for males and 84 for females) . . . in 1901 it was 49.
How do all these averages stack up to your family? If you’re like most, you likely have more than 1.93 children and the family household is bigger than 2.5 people.
Americans are living longer and need a home where they can age in place while raising a family. Let’s take a look at how some of this can be accomplished using Universal Design.
Kitchen and Bathroom cabinets that have pull-out drawers on the bottom cabinets and fully adjustable shelfs on the top cabinets are convenient for everyone. In similar fashion, D or U-shaped pulls for opening cabinets and drawers make opening and closing far easier than knobs at any age. Including soft-close hardware makes opening and closing with just a touch an almost effortless operation.
Single lever controls for sinks, bathtubs, and showers are much safer in preventing scalding and are very simple to operate. Using a pressure-balanced valve (helps regulate a more constant temperature during changes in water pressure) in bath and shower spaces is far safer for children and older adults.
An LED light directly over the bathtub, shower, and kitchen sink makes things much easier to see and identify labels. By the way, changing all switches to paddle/rocker type allows operation with the touch of an elbow or back of the hand. Going a step further using luminated or backlite paddle switches makes locating in the dark much safer and easier.
Universal Design and the Shower
A seat in the shower that is large enough to comfortably sit along with a hand shower on a 72” hose will make shaving and cleansing easier and safer vs standing and losing one’s balance. When a seat becomes necessary to shower, it’s already there.
Shower thresholds or dams can be minimal to make entry and existing easier and safer. Adding grab bars around the bathing areas and toilet with solid 2”x12” blocking between the studs ensures a strong and sturdy grab bar. Slip-resistant tile flooring with a low glare is much safer and easier to maintain, especially for children and older adults.
Changing a doorway to 36” and changing hinged doors to pocket doors in bathing and laundry room areas allow for easier carrying of household items and support virtually all walkers and wheelchairs.
A Universal Design Toilet is Safer and More Comfortable
A comfort height toilet (chair height – about 17-19” tall) with a soft close remote washlet (easy front and rear cleansing and warm air drying) with an LED photocell nightlight receptacle next to the toilet makes both day and nighttime relief safer, easier, more sanitary, and pleasantly refreshing. Note, washlet’s are also available with automatic lid opening and closing.
As you can see, Universal Design works for everyone for all the stages of life. When incorporating Universal Design into remodeling projects, you’ll save time and money because you will not need to remodel again to incorporate these time and money saving features as life changes throughout the years.