What is universal design?

When the team here begins designing a new residence or renovation, certainly code compliance plays a major role and our building code requires certain spaces and functions of a home be user-friendly for people of all abilities. However, adhering to the building code and creating a home that features “universal design” principles can be quite different.

Universal design is the concept that everyone, a full-bodied adult, child, someone facing illness or physical injury or an aging parent, can use a home. Things like large under-counter drawers that hold the daily necessities of plates and cups, and appliances placed in areas where everyone can reach them, are simple ways to implement universal design.

Other ideas such as large hallways, bathrooms and bedrooms to accommodate wheelchairs and extra backing behind walls for easy future installation of grab bars are easy to do during construction and can make life much better down the road.

Storage – which is always a premium here at the beach – may be tucked under the stairs or behind pocket doors to make it easier for anyone to access.

Many of our clients love the idea of their master bedroom located on the second floor not only because it affords them great views, but also because it is a great way to maximize first floor living spaces without diminishing their bedroom. A simple way to ensure they can always enjoy this feature is to add a residential elevator. If this is outside the current budget, a great option is to design the home for a “future” elevator by stacking 4 ft x 4 ft closets above one another and leaving room for nearby mechanical equipment in a storage area. This way the homeowner can install the elevator later if they choose.

Below are some photos of a recent project showcasing how we utilized some of these ideas.


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