Designing a home or apartment that allows everyone, not just people with disabilities, easy access and livability by incorporating accessibility features in a tasteful and almost imperceptible way into the overall design of the structure is the basis for a safe and happy home that everyone can enjoy. So whether you’re catering to a specific person’s needs, or creating more general accessibility here’s a guide to help you get started on making your property accessible, and creating someone a happy home.
Start at the Front Door
Accessibility in any home starts at the front door; everyone wants to look forward to coming home at the end of a long day, not worry about getting in his or her own front door! If you use a wheelchair, scooter, walker, or have limited mobility, ramps are far easier to negotiate than stairs, so try to limit stairs as much as possible and create gradually sloping walkways or ramps to allow easy access in and out of the property. If need be, you could also considering widening doors throughout the property to allow for easier access and freedom of movement. For example for a wheelchair user to move comfortably through a home doorways should be 36” wide, hallways 46” wide, and bathrooms, kitchens and entry areas should have a 5-foot turning radius. If there is a landing outside your door, make sure there is a 5-foot flat landing in front of the door.
To make life as easy as possible, it’s a good idea to install automatic versions of the basics, like motion sensor lighting and remote control heating and cooling systems. You could even consider automated door openers or a whole house intercom if the budget will stretch that far. Beware of installing gadgets just for the sake of it though – they might seem snazzy to start off, but not provide any real value down the line. This is particularly important if you’re making a property accessible to rent out, as often these gadgets cater to more specific needs and you might not know exactly what the needs of your prospective tenants are.
Make the Most of Natural Light
Bringing as much natural light into your home as possible will make it feel much fresher and airier, giving you a sense of space and balance, so make the most of existing natural light sources. If your budget will allow, you could even consider adding French doors or skylights to windowless areas. Not only will you enjoy the benefits of more light but also you may even add value to your property as an investment for the future.