Universal Design – Improving Accessibility For All

Posted on | July 4, 2012 | 3 Comments

Shortly after college, I had surgery on both knees – at the same time. With casts on both legs, the greatest difficulty I had during my recovery was getting around inside my own home. Living in a townhouse, I quickly grew tired of camping out in the living room and taking bird baths in the kitchen sink. My situation was only short term, but it gave me a great point of reference for a recent conversation I had about Universal Design with Raleigh Remodelers, Peggy and Dave Mackowski of Quality Design & Construction.

Images Courtesy of Quality Design & Construction

Peggy describes Universal Design as “barrier free living for people of all ages and abilities.” For those in the Research Triangle area with accessibility issues, Peggy and Dave are an invaluable resource in enhancing their level of independence and improving their quality of life. As Certified Aging In Place Specialists, much of their work also involves renovations that are designed to allow homeowners to continue to stay in their homes as their needs and circumstances change later on.

“Homeowners are interested in staying in their homes longer. We are here to plan for their future,” Dave explains. “We find out the length of time they want to be in their home and we plan forward with them, providing greater accessibility, better lighting. Universal Design involves looking at the overall floor plans and opening things up. We consider things like minimum step transitions from outdoor to indoor living space, curbless showers, eliminating interior thresholds – the transitions from one room to another, realizing that not every room needs a door. Improved lighting can involve adding windows or undercabinet lighting in the kitchen.”

Peggy acknowledges that they have seen an increased awareness and interest in Universal Design. “A decade or so ago, empty-nesters moved down to a smaller home. Now, you may have two generations living in a home. The owners not only want to make changes to accommodate mom and dad – they are also planning for their own future needs.”

When addressing the current and future mobility needs of their clients, Peggy and Dave don’t believe that creating a barrier free environment means sacrificing the aesthetics of a home. Accommodating a client’s need for a zero step entrance is achieved by resculpting the front yard in a manner that maintains the home’s style and appearance. In bathrooms and kitchens that are designed with the accessibility features, form still meets function and style still reigns supreme.

I asked Dave what are the most important things homeowners desire when it comes to Universal Design. “The things that interest homeowners most are: a more open floor plan, better flow and space usage of kitchens, and larger shower stalls with a seat. Additionally, they also want a home that is low maintenance and requires less clean up. Universal Design improves the livability of their homes.”

A Raleigh Remodeler that has earned its Certified Aging in Place designation, Quality Design & Construction is adept at creating a barrier free home environment for their clients.

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3 Responses to “Universal Design – Improving Accessibility For All”

  1. Ellen
    July 5th, 2012 @ 2:29 PM

    What a timely and thoughtful post……smiles

  2. Gray Shelton
    July 26th, 2012 @ 9:55 PM

    We had a Universal design studio at East Carolina University and that was a really interesting class. We did pratical exercises to test out the “accessibility” of campus buildings and learned a lot about the challenges a typical commercial structure can present.

    Thank you for the insightful article. I have never seen such a beautifully incorporated ramp!

  3. Peggy Mackowski
    July 27th, 2012 @ 10:04 AM

    Gray, thank you for the compliment. We take a lot of pride in the design of our projects.

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