Home accessibility doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your personal style for functionality. Everyone should be able to feel safe and happy in their own home and being able to create a space that matches your style is a part of that.
Universal design is the practice of building homes that are safe and functional for all, regardless of age or physical ability. Wider doors and hallways are an example of universal design. By designing houses this way, it can accommodate many types of bodies, such as people who use mobility aids. In this article, we’ll discuss some accessible home upgrades throughout the house that combine style and function, for people of all abilities.
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the home, and it can also pose some of the most obstacles to accessibility. High sinks and cabinets can be out of reach for seniors, and cramped spaces or tight corners can be hard to maneuver with mobility aids.
Accessible kitchen upgrades can look a variety of ways, depending on the needs of the individual. Upgrades that can make your kitchen more accessible without compromising style can include:
Touch-activated faucets: Installing new, versatile touch-activated faucets can offer streamlined designs, while still being practical and functional for individuals who may have impaired grip.
Multi-level counters: Multi-level counters can give a distinctive and unique look to your kitchen while being accessible for people with different height needs.
Cabinets with pull-out drawers: Pull-out drawers can be a sleek addition to your kitchen, as well as facilitate organization and prevent the need to bend or reach to access things inside the cabinet.
Freestanding kitchen sinks: Having space under the sink can allow for people with mobility aids easier access to the sink. These sinks can also add a sleek and modern touch to your kitchen.
Increased lighting: Light fixtures can be tailored to your taste, and increased lighting can improve visibility in the kitchen.
The bathroom is another important room in the house that is used daily. Bathroom independence can be important for seniors and people with disabilities, and these upgrades can help preserve independence:
Expanding your bathroom for a wider turn radius: Open floor plans are ideal for people who use mobility aids, and they can lend a bright and airy feel to any room.
Curbless showers: Curbless showers can reduce falling risk, and they can give your bathroom a modern and open feel.
Bidet installation: Bidets can help people with mobility impairments stay clean. They can come in different styles, including porcelain and chrome, to fit any kind of bathroom.
Tall or short Toilets: Installing a different sized toilet can be more accessible for individuals with different height needs. In some cases you can have the color, handle, or toilet seat customized to your liking.
Freestanding sinks: Freestanding sinks are also a mobility boon in the bathroom, and can help add a modern, seamless feel.
Grab bars: Luxury grab bars come in a variety of different shapes and finishes, while still assisting with balance and movement.
Shower seats: You can have an attached shower seat installed into your shower in a variety of different styles, including stone, wood, tile, and linoleum.
Transfer benches: Transfer benches can make it easy for people with mobility impairments to maneuver themselves out of the shower. These benches can double as a shower seat, and be personalized to your bathroom’s style.
There are also several bathroom accessories designed for accessibility on the market, such as hand-held showerheads, toilet guard rails, and non-slip adhesives.
According to the ADA, working from home falls under a reasonable workplace accommodation. Additionally, working from home has grown exponentially over the past year, due to changes in businesses. These two realities make the home office space another area where accessible accessories are important.
Manual or automatic adjustable height desks can be a great accessible option for people with mobility aids, and come in several different styles. Assistive technology, such as text-to-voice readers, is a helpful accessory for people with vision impairments. These are just a few examples of what accessibility in the home office can look like.
Typically, you can find assistive technology or supplies that can be tailored to your needs. There are many non-profits that either provide funding for assistive technology or directly provide the technology or accessories at little to no cost to the individual.
Walkways and Doorways
There are ways that you can make walkways and doorways more accessible without having to do any structural changes. These can be helpful if you’re renting a home, or living with others:
Offset hinges: Offset hinges can allow doors to open wider without having to change the door frame. They come in different metal finishes or can be a nearly invisible accessible upgrade.
Sliding doors: Sliding doors, such as barn doors or glass doors, can be a unique style piece both inside and outside the home. They can be easier to open for people with grip impairments and can have smaller lips, which can be easier for people with mobility aids to get over.
Repair cracks in pathways: Cracks in outdoor pathways can be a fall hazard for seniors or people with mobility aids. Repairing these cracks, or requesting their repair from your landlord, can help reduce falls and create a cleaner-looking pathway.
Remove clutter: Removing clutter from doorways and walkways is the easiest way to make these spaces more accessible. This way they are more easily maneuverable for people with mobility impairments and give your home an organized and clean feeling.
It’s important to note that landlords also have responsibilities under the ADA. They must supply reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, including making changes or repairs to their home or common areas that impede their ability to access or enjoy all necessary facilities.
Some flooring poses more barriers to accessibility than others. For example, high-pile or shag carpet and thick rugs can be more difficult to maneuver with mobility aids. Hardwood or vinyl flooring can present a smoother, easier to maneuver surface.
Adhesive floor stickers on the underside of rugs can decrease their ability to slip and cause falls, which can be a great way to incorporate this style piece into your home. Low-pile carpet also poses fewer fall risks and obstacles for people with mobility aids who still want that element of softness that carpet brings.
Colors and Upholstery
You can use colors, textures, and upholstery to create a more accessible environment as well. Particularly for people with vision or sensory impairments, using certain textures and colors and avoiding others can create a more welcoming experience for them.
For example, varying rough textures may be favored by a person who is blind because they can differentiate them by touch. Additionally, it may be helpful to avoid colors that people who are color blind can’t see, so that they don’t feel left out of the experience of the space.
Lighting is an important part of accessibility design, as many people have light sensitivity by increasing visibility or reduced vision in low light. Outdoor lighting can decrease fall risks for seniors, as well as make their outdoor space available to them even after the sun goes down.
Incandescent lights, which are on the warmer end of the spectrum, can be better for those who experience migraines, as fluorescent or harsh cool lights can cause or worsen them. You can tailor light fixtures, and even light bulb brightness and color, to your personal style. Something as simple as changing a lampshade or lightbulb type can totally change the atmosphere of a room.
Smart Home Tech
Smart home tech has been revolutionary for people with disabilities. As mentioned, touch-activated appliances like sinks can be sleek and functional. However, smart home tech does so much more for accessibility.
Related Topic: 5 Things to Know Before You Buy a Smart Kitchen Appliance
Through voice command, you can turn on and off lights, the TV, and even order groceries. Smart touch thermostats allow for easier reading and control over small button remotes. These smart home upgrades can add a sleek look to your home while creating convenience and safety. If you’re not into the modern look, you can often get wood-grain swatches or covering for things like google home, which can suit more rustic vibes.
Finding the accessible accommodations, you need doesn’t have to mean giving up on your home’s decor or style. Through customization and careful shopping, you can find things that add elegance and function to your home, instead of having to pick between the two.
If you have questions about plumbing upgrades that can make your home more accessible, contact your local pros at Mr. Plumber. We can review plumbing upgrades with you and perform a complete inspection of your system to ensure it’s working properly. To get started, call (855) 982-2028 or request an appointment online today.