Remodeling is the perfect opportunity to integrate design ideas that will allow you to live comfortably in your home for a lifetime.
Universal Design, also referred to as Livable Design or Better Design, means creating an environment that’s easy for everyone to use – regardless of age, size or ability. It emphasizes convenience, simplicity, flexibility and adaptability. And it goes beyond accessibility to include appealing and stylish features that are widely available today. By incorporating this type of design into remodeling projects for two of the most important rooms of your house – your kitchen and bathroom – you will help ensure that you can live safely and independently even as your needs change.
A new study from The Hartford and the University of Southern California found that 40 percent of Boomers expect to remodel their homes sometime in the future. When planning to remodel, Boomers surveyed indicated they will focus primarily on updating “dated” rooms – kitchens and bathrooms top the list – and making their homes more attractive, with only 21 percent considering their own health and aging. People can do both with universal design – an approach to design that’s easy for everyone to use, regardless of age, size, or ability.
When Boomers were shown photos of livable design features for the kitchen, many respondents agreed they would consider the following:
- Pullout drawers in base cabinets (75%)
- Lighting from multiple sources (61%)
- Level thresholds between kitchen and adjacent rooms (61%)
- D- or U-shaped handles, rather than knobs (59%)
- Countertops at different heights (42%)
And when Boomers were shown photos of universal design ideas for the bathroom, the most common features in which they expressed interest include:
- Single lever faucet handle (56%)
- Comfort height toilet (56%)
- Grab bars in tub and shower (53%)
- Adjustable-height, hand-held shower hose (49%)
Walk-in shower with little or no threshold (47%)
Remodeling Your Kitchen?
Here are a few ideas to consider:
Cabinets and Cupboards
- It’s easier to access storage space in base cabinets if you install pullout drawers rather than fixed shelving.
- Supplement natural light with lighting from multiple sources. These may include under cabinet lights, track lighting, recessed lighting or pendants that hang from the ceiling.
- Consider a wall oven, which can reduce the need to bend with hot or heavy items.
Remodeling Your Bathroom?
Here are a few ideas to consider:
Faucets and Controls in Sink, Tub and Shower
- For the simplest operation of your faucets, select single-lever handles rather than two separate knobs or handles.
- When choosing flooring such as linoleum vinyl or ceramic tiles, choose materials that are slip-resistant, even-surfaced and low glare.
Switches and Outlets
- Lighting controls can be easier to reach by making small adjustments in their location. Mount switches at 42”-48” above floor, and outlets 18”-24” above floor.
For more remodeling ideas for your kitchen and bathroom, download our Remodeling Today for Better Tomorrow guide:
The Hartford and the USC Davis School of Gerontology conducted an online survey fielded by TNS from April 23 through 26, 2015. The survey was completed by 1,096 adults between the ages of 51 and 69 (Boomers) and is representative of the U.S. household population.
This information is intended to help individuals who seek information about the kinds of change that can be made to a home environment to increase comfort, convenience and safety. It is not intended to be an exhaustive source or to relate to a particular housing situation. Readers are advised to consult the appropriate professionals to assist them in analyzing their situation.