Discover accessible home renovation and interior design ideas. Even if you’re not a senior or living with a disability, universal principles of design will change your life.

Think About Future Accessibility Needs

While current health issues often bring accessibility top of mind, many people recognize that if they're going to start a custom-built home renovation project, this is the best time to also think about their future needs. Consider any current problems and brainstorm or research potential solutions that can help improve your everyday quality of life, at any stage in your life. 

For example, include at least one bathroom shower without a curb or install reinforcements in bathroom walls. This upgrade will ensure that, even if you don’t want a grab bar right now, you can easily install one in the future.

Make Your Space More Accessible For All Ages

Whether you live with a multi-generational family or need accommodations for someone with a disability, you can make simple updates to incorporate the needs of everyone in your household. 

Lever door handle with blurry living room in background

Make the Switch to Lever Door Handles

Door lever handles offer much better grip than traditional knobs, making it easier for children and the elderly to enter and exit rooms.

Three light switches with blurry home office in background

Lower Your Light Switches, Cabinets and Countertops

Capitalize on all the space in a kitchen by positioning cabinets and countertops lower so that both able-bodied and disabled family members can access them easily.

The same goes for lower light switches. By enabling everyone to be able to reach the light switch, each family member can illuminate a room, greatly reducing the risk of an accident.

Electrical outlet installed high under a kitchen island

Raise the Height for Electrical Outlets

Having higher electrical outlets serves two purposes: it allows those in wheelchairs or other assistive devices to comfortably reach them from a seated position, and it also allows you to reduce the amount of cords and wires that are on the floor that could be potential tripping hazards.

Learn How to Apply the 7 Universal Principles of Design

Universal Design (UD) is based on seven key principles that are integral to the success of any new construction or renovation project.

  • Quadrant showing four disability symbols

    Principle 1: Equitable Use

    Equitable use requires a design to be useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.

  • Bedroom with hardwood floors and light walls and furniture

    Principle 2: Flexibility in Use

    Flexibility in use allows residents with a wide range of individual preferences and abilities to utilize the space. For example, a space that could be a bedroom in a pinch, but is usually used as a home office.

  • Minimalist kitchen with white walls and floor

    Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use

    This principle requires that the use of the design is easily understood regardless of cognitive, motor, or language skills. A space should be easy to use and look and function in an uncomplicated way.

  • Key fob on dark backdrop

    Principle 4: Perceptible Information

    This principle requires that the design transmits necessary information to the residents, regardless of sensory limitations. This pillar is about setting out a design with visual or textural clues to allow people with sensory issues to better understand how to interact with the space.

    For example, using remote control/digital access to open doors both literally and figuratively.

  • Kitchen island, hardwood floor, pendant lights, living room in background

    Principle 5: Tolerance for Error

    Tolerance for error minimizes hazards in the case of accidents or falls. This is the provision of a space with a minimum of risks to the user. This can mean not having transitions between different flooring types, and protecting against falls and drops.

  • Accessible kitchen sink counter with space for wheelchair in front

    Principle 6: Low Physical Effort

    This principle allows for the space to be used without fatigue or repetitive actions — designing a space that requires as little motion as possible to accomplish the majority of tasks in that particular space.

  • Stair lift with hardwood floor

    Principle 7: Size & Space for Approach & Use

    This design principle allows users of all body size, weight, and posture to maneuver around a space freely and fluidly — the basis for accessibility. The design ensures that the space for the use of wheelchairs, for example, is reachable and comfortable to all people and gives a clear line of sight to the most important things in the area.

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