Let’s talking about how you can make your home more accessible while still designing it in a way where no one would know someone lived there with a physical challenge. Everyone can benefit from design that is comfortable and workable for people that have physical challenges. I want to first focus on the flooring.
Designing with Accessibility in Mind
When I design a space, I use the concepts of universal design and Feng Shui (the movement of energy) no matter who is going to use the space. I first do an evaluation of the home or office. I have a look at what can be done or not done, and look for alternate ways to accomplish certain adjustments to the atmosphere we are trying to meet. Many, if not all of my designs come from the need to change the way people today address mechanical, spatial, ergonomic and physical attributes to the living and working space as we age.
Architects used to compartmentalize all of our rooms, really boxing people in. But today, I find as a designer, I have started to open doorways, taking away the limitations that walls and doors create, which makes the space more accessible. My biggest challenge as a designer is to release the fear from my clients, and create a space with minimum effort and quality design.
Flooring is VERY important. Bad flooring can mean a bad slip, trip or fall. No one wants that at any age. Some general rules are having continuous flooring throughout the space, having no slippery spaces, and wide entries (this also allows you to move your furniture in and out without having to cut it in half).
Wide Entry Ways
Not everyone has the luxury of knocking down walls or doorways. So, when you don’t have the ability to make some of the more major structural adjustments, you can create illusions. One of the greatest illusions I can create in a very inexpensive way is to take the framing and trim out of the doorways and opening it up from one room to the next. I finish the opening by just drywall wrapping the wall, which gives the sense of opening the space up. Rising the archways of the entry ways into the ceiling will also provide you with the entire space feeling more open and less confiding.
The idea of having your floor all the same material is wonderful to create the sense of a larger space, with more flow and it equalizes the atmosphere. By doing this, you will avoid any tripping, wrongful illusion of space, and an open, welcoming feeling. This also allows for you to move around easily whether it’s by foot, wheelchair, cane, walker, etc.
Selecting the Right Floor
Select a floor that has multiple functions at the same time creating a good look that is specific to your liking. The most common is LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) flooring, which is very affordable. There are many different features and styles to the flooring:
- Cork backing – creating a cushion feeling that’s not so hard on your back. There are also different locking features for stability.
- Waterproofing – good for the kitchen area or if you have grandkids over a lot.
- Gluing down flooring – this will help with sound and stability.
- Float the floor – from one wall to the next wall, again making it easier on your back.
However, you choose to install the floor some key thing to keep in mind are to make sure you’re using durable flooring materials. Keep in mind, you can have the best material in the world, but if it isn’t prepared properly it won’t look good or stay in good condition. So, when preparing make sure you smooth all seams of the subfloor (the floor underneath the actual LVP floor), check it’s very clean and there is no dirt or small pebble like mater, and last, that the flooring is level.
When you are finished, you will have a flowing consistent space that has no trip hazards, no slipping hazards, waterproof, easy to clean, and looks beautiful. Enjoy the luxury of new concepts without the cost and headaches.