At this month’s Design Camp Seattle, we had the pleasure of hearing Jason McNeely of Hansgrohe/Axor talk about the importance of Universal Design.  Not only do the beautifully, aging Baby Boomers need to plan for life’s inconveniences, but everyone.  Jason gave us a great perspective on how a space can make or break someone’s living situation.  This doesn’t mean we have to install tacky looking grab bars, railings and ramps all over our magazine ready projects.  It does mean we think about our client’s holistic life experience and how they use their space now and in the future.  It’s our job to create a space that is easily usable, reachable and accessible for anyone without it being totally obvious– shhhhh it’ll be our little secret!

Universal Design, undermount microwave, various counter heights, modern kitchen

Notice how this kitchen has various counter heights and work spaces, making it easy for a person in a wheel chair to enjoy cooking.

It’s also a breeze to clean this space.

curbless shower, open shower, universal design, open sink, hard surface flooring, open design

It’s preferable to have at least one all-access bathroom on the first floor.  A person with physical disabilities may come to live in the home, or maybe someone has an unexpected surgery that limits their mobility for awhile.  Having a curbless shower makes an easy transition when someone uses a wheelchair or can’t lift their legs higher than a couple of inches off the floor.  Creating less barriers is the optimal goal.

Porcelanosa, Modern Bathroom, Universal Design, Shower Hardware, Wall Tile, Solid Surface Flooring, Beautiful Bathroom, Open Bathroom

This is a gorgeous example of various counter and storage heights.
The Porcelanosa shower hardware allows for flexibility using the hand-shower and reachable control levers. Ginger also has a great line.

Kohler Grab Bar, Kohler, Grab Bar, Universal Design, Universal Bathroom, Modern Bathroom Hardware, Transitional Bathroom Hardware, Contemporary Grab Bar, Luxury Grab Bar

These aren’t your grandma’s grab bars anymore!  Getting’ classy Kohler!   Ginger also has a great line.

Hansgrohe Axor, Hansgrohe, Axor, Shower Hardware, Shower Lever, Shower, Thermostatic, Pressure Balance, Universal Design, Universal Bathroom, Universal Shower

Hansgrohe, Axor, Universal Design, Shower Control, Shower Temperature, Rain Brain, Touch Screen Control, Temperature Limit, Bath Blast

HansGrohe/Axor lever hardware and Rain Brain touch screen control are easy to use for anyone.  This unit can skip the warm up phase to avoid “bath blast” which shoots out freezing cold water and can knock someone off their balance.  It also limits the temperature to avoid getting splashed with scalding hot water.  No thanks.

Door Hardware, Universal Design, Universal Hardware, Pretty Door Hardware, Door Hardware Design

Put your fist to the test. If you can operate a door or faucet with a closed fist, anyone with arthritis or limited strength can do the same.  Single lever handles are the way to go.

Universal Design, Hardwood Floor, Open Floorplan, Modern Bedroom, Exotic Wood Floor

Any excuse to rip out that old nasty carpet is fine by me.  In addition to creating a floor that is aesthetically pleasing, easily cleanable, a flat even surface makes walking and wheeling easy breezy!

Jason gave a great example of ways to be creative with a limited space and budget.  One of his clients has a mother-in-law who comes to the house regularly.  Rather than building a permanently accessible bathroom vanity, he built a modular under cabinet.  Whenever she comes by to visit, they roll the cabinet out of the way so that she can easily use the sink.  When she leaves, they roll it right back.

With an aging population that has the means and desire to enjoy their golden years in their own homes, interior designers have a new calling and prosperous future in the field of aging in place and universal design.

What have you done or seen in a space that makes it easy for everyone to enjoy?