Aging in Place, Accessible, Universal Design, ADA and Handicapped compliant. These terms and others have become common language in residential design. For many years we have had to follow ADA (American’s with Disability Act) guidelines in our commercial work. In designing and constructing our residential projects, we now consider how you will use the space today, in the future and in the event of an injury or disability.
In 2007, my brother-in-law was in a mountain biking accident. Ken broke his neck and is a quadriplegic living full-time in a wheel chair. During this tragic family event, I learned by necessity accessible and handicapped design. Over many months I went up to his house in the Bay Area and remodeled the bathroom, built ramps, enlarged doors and organized work parties. Ken now drives, works for NASA and is very involved in his two sons’ busy lives. It has been a long road though.
Look at your current kitchen or bathrooms cabinets. Do you know what is in the back of the bottom cabinets or in that “dead corner”? Do you get on your hands and knees to see? How many of us have a bad back or knees? I have both. I design kitchens and baths with as many drawers as can fit. With today’s modern hardware we can make drawers just about any size for just about any item, large or small. Even in small bathrooms with small vanities I can “find” drawer spaces that are easier to use and more accessible. In the corner of many kitchens, I use a half-moon lazy Susan. This unit is much more efficient than the old round ones. I usually include a specialty trash cabinet that works like a drawer and has a recycle bin included.
Grab bars that look nice? Yes! Many now look like beefed up towel bars and they match the family of faucets used in the rest of the bathroom. Many accidents happen in the bathroom and a simple grab bar placed and secured correctly can make the difference between a slip and a terrible fall.
We convert many tub/showers to showers only. It’s just too hard for some people to get in and out of a tub just to take a shower. Lenton Company has also built many “barrier-free” showers that allow our customers to roll in and make it easier for a caregiver to help. Check out the bathroom section of our web site to see some of the jobs we have done (www.lentoncompany.com).
When designing your project, I carefully consider the placement and type of appliances and fixtures, allowing for a variety of uses for young, old, able, and challenged. Sharp makes a drawer microwave that is placed in a lower cabinet. Many drawer dishwashers are now available. I recently designed a kitchen with two sinks. One is at the normal 36” height and another 6” lower on a floating counter, allowing the user to wheel up to it.
None of us are getting younger. Most of us will have a short- or long-term injury or disability. Let Lenton Company, Inc. help you be better prepared for your future needs.