Transitioning to Universal Design

If you are a homeowner in Monmouth, Middlesex, Mercer or Ocean County New Jersey, you probably would like to stay in your current home for as long as possible, either because you love your location or because of the cost and disruption of moving to a new home. So, thinking ahead to future needs is an important part of planning any remodeling you might want to do.

One way to make sure your home can stay well-suited to your future needs is to incorporate the principles of Universal Design. As a remodeling route to “aging-in-place” updates, Universal Design doesn’t mean making your home look cold and clinical. It focuses on making living areas accessible to all – young, old, and every age in between –  and doing so in a way that is as stylish as it is unobtrusively convenient.

white kitchen
Custom Kitchen by T&K Contractors

Kitchens and bathrooms are the most popular rooms homeowners choose to remodel. They are also the best places to begin embracing the principles of Universal Design. Improving layout and adding safety and accessibility features can create beautiful living spaces that are more welcoming to everyone.

Breaking Down Bathroom Barriers

accessible universal design shower
Universal design shower by T&K Contractors

One popular Universal Design bathroom element is the curbless, barrier-free shower. It’s a practical shower solution that is also elegant in appearance. What makes it easy to achieve is the linear drain. This drain is nearly invisible, installed flush along the wall rather than in the center of the shower stall. With the floor sloping gently toward the drain, there is no need for a curb (or even a door or wall) between the shower and the rest of the bathroom. A detachable hand-held showerhead and a built-in bench are luxurious touches that are also practical.

Barrier-free showers
Barrier-free shower photos courtesy QuickDrain USA

Enlarging the bathroom gives it a more relaxing, spa-like feel while increasing accessibility. Install door and cabinet hardware that are levers rather than knobs. Universal Design faucet options include lever-style handles or touchless (even voice-activated) controls. Slip-resistant flooring is a great safety feature for any bathroom.

All-Inclusive Universal Design Kitchens

Who doesn’t want help in the kitchen? Make it easier for everyone to be able to pitch in without too much bending or stretching by adding pullout shelves, multiple counter heights, and a wall-mounted oven. An undercounter mini-fridge and a microwave can be installed in the island to provide easy access outside of the main work area. This is another room where lever handles on faucets and cabinetry are an easy – and stylish – update.

unicersal design kitchen island
Custom Kitchen by T&K Contractors

Other Universal Design features throughout the home should include wider halls and doorways, adequate task lighting, increased lighting on stairways, and hard-surface flooring materials or low-pile carpeting.

While realizing that our lives are full of transition, most of us can’t uproot our families and move to a new house every time our situation changes. Remodeling your home using Universal Design can be a great solution, allowing you to keep your house beautiful and up to date with your needs while you stay in the home that you love for years to come.

We can incorporate the flexibility, simplicity, and ease of use of Universal Design principles into your home in such a way that the only thing your family and guests may notice is just how comfortable and elegant your home is. If you have questions about Universal Design or would like to know more, please contact us. We can help you decide which features might be appropriate for you and your family for now and into the future.