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When it comes to accessibility in a modern home, practicality is important, but it’s not the only aspect to take into account – after all, a home needs to feel, well, homely. Whether you or a loved one has a physical or sensory impairment, designing a space to live comfortably in can be difficult – with a host of extra considerations to think about along the way. In today’s post, we’ll be discussing inclusive interior design, giving you our top tips for creating an accessible home.
Think through the entrances and exits
Arriving at home shouldn’t feel like a chore, so making the entryway accessible should be a priority. For wheelchair users, this can be achieved with a gradual ramp leading up to the doorway. Alternatively, a sturdy bannister can provide additional support for those who require a different form of mobility aid. When it comes to an accessible doorway width, 800mm is generally the recommended measurement, though this is obviously dependent on whether the user will be entering front-on or from an angle – so consider expanding this if there’s a turn involved.
Consider an open-plan layout
Doorways can be difficult to traverse if you use a wheelchair or depend on other support for walking, which is why an open-plan layout is the best for providing universal access to all of your home’s living areas. What’s more, an open-plan design gives you far greater control over your living arrangement – and that means you can tailor your interior to the specific needs that come with specific disabilities. If doorways are unavoidable, ensuring users can get through easily is best achieved with sliding door systems – as they’re far less cumbersome and use less space than traditional hinged doors.
Weigh up your flooring options
Flooring plays an important part in the accessibility of your home, particularly if residents use a mobility aid such as a wheelchair or crutches – and that means you should invest in the most suitable flooring for the main living areas. In areas like the kitchen and bathroom, non-slip floor tiles can offer the most security and grip. Kitchen floor tiles and wall tiles can also make cleaning significantly easier and, therefore, quicker – which makes housework more achievable for non-disabled carers and family, and for the disabled person themselves. Tiles should be around 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches so that the grout lines can provide additional traction for a wheelchair.
In your living room, wood flooring is another option you could explore – although it’s considerably more expensive than tiles. Low pile carpets can be easy to clean and provide grip for wheelchair users, though track marks, scuffs and greater resistance make them less suitable than other flooring types. Of course, the best flooring for your home will offer a balance of practicality and personal preference – just don’t completely forsake one for the other!
Take everyday activities into account
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Once you’ve thought through the main areas of the home, it’s important not to overlook the most important aspect – and that’s the day-to-day life of those who live and visit there. Those with disabilities often find the greatest hardship in performing everyday tasks, such as washing themselves in the bathroom. To address this, incorporate wide walk-in showers with low-hanging shower heads into an easily accessible bathroom.
Choosing furniture that already has wheels can provide that next level of adaptability ideal for an accessible home – whether that’s the sofas in the living room or a vanity cabinet in the bathroom. In addition, spending time planning and installing grab-bars in appropriate areas of the home will ensure that those who require mobility aids now, or those who may require them in the future, have the support they need from the get-go.
Seek out a single-storey living space
Bungalows are ideal for independent living, though multi-level homes can be modified with stairlifts to provide access to upper floors. This can be costly but it’s worth the investment if you plan to stay in the property long-term and there are essential facilities upstairs. In general, steps should be avoided – and this might mean making adjustments to the areas by the front and back doors, and potentially levelling out flooring in the home if there are steps in the passageways between rooms.
With rising disability awareness amongst the general public, universal interior design is becoming an increasingly common consideration when homeowners are weighing up their interior options. Whether you have a disability yourself or care for somebody with a disability, or you’re simply thinking ahead to old age, designing an accessible and comfortable home doesn’t have to be excessively complicated. And with the design ideas from today’s article, you’ll have gone a long way towards creating an inclusive property accessible by all.