I think it is safe to say most people want to be able to live in their own home for as long as possible, but as we age, our needs change. Building and renovating with this in mind early on will ensure that your family home can be your forever home. This will help to set aside the time and resources needed to incorporate the elements necessary for a safe and comfortable home for years to come. Renovate with accessibility in mind with these tips:
Where to Start
Include accessibility projects into your upcoming renovations. Your accessibility projects can be subtle and offer function without sacrificing style. Remember, you are looking for ways to make life easy and comfortable, focussing on mobility, cooking and eating, sleeping and bathing.
Doors and Entrances
Moving around the home should not be a challenge. This means all doorways should be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. Ensure that entryways are smooth and clear with no steps or bumps.
Doorways should be at least 32-inches wide (36-inches is ideal).
Ensure entrances are accessible. Use landscaping to create a slope up to the front entryway, this will allow you to have a functional ramp that does not look out of place.
If you decide to incorporate different types of flooring in your home, remember that the connection from one room to another should be seamless and durable. Carpets are fine, but connecting a carpeted room to a laminate room without reinforcing the entryway can leave your carpet frayed and hard to maneuver through.
Wheelchairs and walkers can be quite heavy – certain woods are more susceptible to damage. If you opt for wooden flooring, maple and bamboo are good options that will be able to resist the wear and tear caused by the force of a wheelchair.
Laminates are a good alternative that offer durability and resistance.
Any carpets in the home should be thin, with a height of 0.5 inches or less without an underpad. This offers less resistance and can accommodate accessibility devices.
An accessible kitchen needs plenty of room to move around. Open concept kitchens are the way to go as they make great accessible spaces.
Renovate with height in mind. Consider sink, counter, and cabinet heights. Accessible counter workspace needs to be at least 30-inches wide and countertops should be 28 – 34-inches off the floor.
Consider the layout carefully. The stove, fridge, and sink should be spaced out enough for room to move around.
If your kitchen is on the smaller side, a movable island is a good alternative.
If you are in a multi-level home, your master bedroom is probably on the upper level. This may be ideal for the time being, but as soon as mobility becomes an issue, getting to and from bed can be quite problematic. One idea is to ensure there is a multi-functional space on the main floor. What you use as an office now, could later be transformed into a bedroom if needs change.
There is no denying it – older homes have small washrooms. Unfortunately, due to these smaller sizes, they are not wheelchair and walker friendly. Determine if your washrooms are currently large enough to work with and, if they are not, some more major renovations may be necessary.
Save some valuable space by changing the swing of your door to open outward instead of into the washroom.
Install wall-mounted sinks to allow space for a wheelchair to fit.
Install grab bars near the tub and ensure the flooring is non-slip.
There are plenty of walk-in shower/bathtub options available for ultimate independence.
It is never too early to start working on our forever homes. If we are mindful of accessibility during the renovations that we already plan to do, we can save time, money and headaches in the future. If you are looking for your forever home, or simply need a change, call me at 416.921.1112 – I would be more than happy to help.