open space living space

Designing a home isn’t just about picking out paint colors and choosing between granite or marble countertops. It’s about creating a space that’s not just beautiful, but also functional and inclusive. This is where Universal Design comes into play, as it’s all about creating spaces that are accessible, safe, and comfortable for all ages and abilities. It’s about recognizing that our needs change as we age and that a well-designed space can accommodate these changes.

From wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers, to adjustable countertops for those who may be taller or shorter than average, Universal Design is about ensuring that everyone can enjoy and fully utilize their living spaces.

So, whether you’re building a custom home from the ground up or remodeling your current space, incorporating Universal Design principles can result in a home that’s not only beautiful and stylish, but also inclusive and adaptable to everyone’s needs.

Key Principles of Universal Design

To create an accessible and user-friendly custom home, it’s essential to understand the fundamental principles of universal design. According to the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University, there are seven guiding principles to consider:

  1. Equitable use: Design spaces that are usable and functional for people with diverse abilities.
  2. Flexibility in use: Accommodate a wide range of preferences and abilities by offering customizable features and options.
  3. Simple and intuitive use: Make the design easy to understand and operate, no matter the user’s experience or cognitive abilities.
  4. Perceptible information: Ensure that necessary information is communicated effectively to users, regardless of their sensory abilities.
  5. Tolerance for error: Minimize potential hazards and adverse consequences resulting from accidental or unintended actions.
  6. Low physical effort: Design spaces that can be used comfortably and efficiently with a minimum of fatigue or strain.
  7. Size and space for approach and use: Provide sufficient space for users to maneuver, reach, and operate elements regardless of their body size, posture, or mobility.

Accessible Doorways and Entrances

To create a universally accessible home, start by ensuring that doorways and entrances are barrier-free and easy to use for all residents and visitors. Consider these aspects when designing the entryways in your custom home:

  1. Width: Ensure that all doorways and entrances are wide enough to comfortably accommodate people who use wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids.
  2. Thresholds: Minimize or eliminate thresholds at doorways to make it easy for people with mobility challenges or those using wheeled devices to move from one area to another.
  3. Handles and hardware: Opt for lever-style door handles instead of knobs, as they are easier to grasp and operate for those with limited hand strength or dexterity.
  4. Entry ramps: Install ramps or gradual slopes at exterior entrances to provide seamless access for individuals using mobility aids, those pushing strollers, or those who have difficulty navigating stairs.

Flooring and Interior Design Elements

The choice of flooring and interior design elements plays a critical role in enhancing the usability and comfort of a universally designed home. Here are some tips for creating a functional and accessible living environment:

  1. Flooring: Choose slip-resistant and smooth flooring materials that reduce the risk of falls and make it easy for individuals using mobility aids to navigate the space.
  2. Lighting: Adequate and well-placed lighting, including both natural and artificial sources, can improve visibility and accessibility for all occupants.
  3. Color contrast: Incorporate contrasting colors and materials to make it easier for individuals with visual impairments to distinguish between different surfaces and fixtures.
  4. Adjustable elements: Consider installing adjustable-height countertops, cabinets, and shelving to accommodate the diverse needs of all users.

Bathrooms and Kitchens for All

Bathrooms and kitchens are crucial areas that require special attention when incorporating universal design principles into your custom home. Keep the following tips in mind when designing these spaces:

  1. Walk-in showers and grab bars: Install walk-in showers with non-slip flooring and integrate grab bars to provide additional support and stability for all users.
  2. Accessible appliances: Choose side-opening ovens, front-control stovetops, and raised dishwashers, which make it easier for individuals with mobility challenges or those using wheelchairs to operate appliances.
  3. Height-adjustable sinks and countertops: Install sinks and countertops that are adjustable in height to provide a comfortable and convenient workspace for users of all ages and abilities.
  4. Pull-out storage and touchless faucets: Opt for pull-out shelves and drawers in cabinets for easy access to stored items and touchless faucets in sinks for efficient, hands-free operation.

Let Banner Custom Homes Guide Your Universal Design Journey

Universal Design in custom homes is more than just a current trend or a niche market. It’s a thoughtful and sensible approach to design that puts people first. It focuses on creating spaces that are not just beautiful, but also functional and inclusive. It’s an investment that pays off in the long run, ensuring our homes remain comfortable, safe, and accessible, regardless of age or ability.

With decades of experience in home construction and residential household design, Banner Custom Homes is dedicated to helping you create a custom home that embraces universal design and caters to the diverse requirements of all residents. Start your journey toward building a beautiful, functional, and universally accessible custom-built home in Tulsa, OK, guided by the expert team at Banner Custom Homes!