Universal Design is the term used to describe the process of creating residential spaces which are easily used by all family members throughout their life span, regardless of their current age, size or physical abilities. To understand universal design even more, check out this YouTube video by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

What design features are consumers most likely to put in their homes when it comes to Universal Design?

A NARI consumer poll asked homeowners to select which features they are likely to use in their remodels. The result? Consumers chose these features:

Universal Design features in this kitchen - levered handles, single faucetry, varying counter heights, LED lighting, task lighting, and pull out cabinets.

Universal Design features in this kitchen – levered handles, single faucetry, varying counter heights, LED lighting, task lighting, and pull out cabinets.

  • Ergonomic door and cabinet handles
  • Single-Level faucets
  • Variable height work spaces in the kitchen
  • Task lighting
  • Wider doorways/hallways
  • Pull-out cabinets in the kitchen
  • Grab bars and barrier-free showers

The most desired features were grab bars and barrier-free showers in the bathrooms. Perhaps that’s because most consumers know about these features and realize the benefits. NARI Universal Design Certified Professionals, like us, know that accessibility in the home extends way beyond these bathroom features.

Pull out cabinets in the kitchen (12%) and wider doorways and hallways (10%) came in second and third in features that consumers would be willing to include in a remodel.

The features listed above make accessibility easier for all members of the household. For example, variable height work spaces in the kitchen is the idea of creating convenience for any user. Children, or individuals with limited mobility, perhaps wheelchair bound, can benefit from a lower counter for food preparation, while taller counter tops will accommodate the adult mobile chefs of the home.

Designers can not only add these conveniences easily, but they can also add style, bashing the common belief that incorporating these items will make the home appear institutional.  With increased style and function, these features increase the value of a home.  Why wouldn’t they be preferred in a remodel?

9028850In addition, other design features can be placed in convenient-for-all locations. Some things you may consider in your next remodel:

  • Side-opening microwaves and ovens. This feature is easier for a smaller person or someone in a wheel chair to reach and get foods in and out.
  • Rocker electrical switches. They are easy to reach and effortless to use.
  • SnapPower Electrical outlets: They provide LED lights that turn on from dusk to dawn.
  • Refrigerators. ADA compliant features, like those from GE Appliances, include controls that are within arm’s reach (15″ to 48″ above the floor) and allow operation with one hand with the ability to be activated with a force of less than 5 pounds.
Universal Design Kitchen Remodel is the wave of the future which will be more than the next fad. Just as we considered going green as a fad, now it’s been mainstreamed into new homes as well as remodels. Universal Design will become increasingly  mainstreamed in much the same way.