This article is from a guest writer, Dane O’Leary who writes for Modernize.com.
Since disabilities can occur to anyone at any time, it’s important to be aware of how the decor and design of a home can be optimized for those who are disabled in some way. In fact, many cities are requiring all new homes to plan for people with disabilities when they are being built and will not approve a home that doesn’t pass ADA standards.
However, while the disabled might have particular needs to be accommodated, this doesn’t mean that those accommodations must come at a sacrifice of style. In fact, the decor design of a home can be just as beautiful when designed to be functional for those with disabilities as home designed for anyone else. Here are some decorating and design tips that will make a house both beautiful and accessible to those with disabilities.
Considerations for Accessibility
Before diving into your design project, it’s important to think about what types of disabilities your decor needs to accommodate. There are a number of possible disabilities, both physical and mental, that a person can have that can affect things like dexterity, range of motion, ability to access things in high places, and so on. Whether your design is intended to be more disability-friendly in general or tailored toward a particular individual’s differently-abledness will affect certain parameters in your decor.
Sliding Barn-Style Doors
You might have noticed the recent popularity of using barn-style sliding doors throughout the home instead of traditional open-and-close doors on hinges. While this began as more of a stylistic design choice, these sliding doors would be an ideal solution for most physically and mentally disabled individuals, especially those who are wheelchair-bound or have limited range of motion. Instead of having to reach out to grab a door handle in order to pull the door shut, you simply position yourself beneath the door’s track, sliding it closed beside of you.
Barn-style sliding doors are pretty simple in their construction, being considered a very popular do-it-yourself project with many kits available that contain everything you’ll need but the door. It’s also been popular to use reclaimed, repurposed barn doors for this purpose, but you can usually use a standard door for this purpose or even more contemporary doors as well, making this look great for any design aesthetic. What’s more, these sliding barn-style doors are also great space savers or for use in smaller spaces like apartments.
Stylish, Accessible Kitchens
One of the most common physical limitations involves being bound to a wheelchair, which is why it’s important to consider wheelchair accessible in your interior design and decor. There are many places in the home where you should consider more accessible options, but the kitchen is an area that tends to be the least accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Most kitchen cabinetry has a toe kick that runs along the floor; it’s an indentation beneath the cabinet into which individuals can set their feet so that they can stand closer to the cabinets while using the countertops for meal prep. However, most toe kicks aren’t more than a couple inches tall. Instead of having this small toe kick area, you could make countertops more accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs by putting the cabinets on short legs. This not only makes the toe kick area larger, but would allow those in wheelchairs to swing their feet beneath the cabinets as well. While being functional, this trend of making cabinets appear more furniture-like has become very common in recent kitchen design.
Via Hann Builders
Additionally, it’s also a good idea to have a couple areas in the kitchen where the lower cabinet has been removed, allowing an individual in a wheelchair a place where they can sit at the counter and prepare meals. An alternative could be to incorporate a hanging countertop that’s lower in height as a place that can be wheelchair accessible while also being used as a seating area.
Disability-Minded Bathroom Sink Designs
Like the kitchen, the bathroom usually represents a certain struggle for some individuals who have disabilities. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that bathrooms can be made more accessible to individuals who are disabled.
Via Masterson Studio
It’s important that the sink is accessible to everyone as it’s typically used repeatedly throughout the day. Making it lower to the ground can make it more easily reached by those who have a more limited range of motion, but there are also other ways to make it reachable too. For example, there are some pedestal and bowl sinks that extend outward, allowing those who might be bound to a wheelchair to get closer to the faucet. Sinks can also be put into legs like a table, which helps to give you more control over the sink’s height.
For other design tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com.