Remodeling Tips to Make Your Home More Accessible

October 2021

Remodeling Tips to Make Your Home More Accessible

Approximately 26% of Americans live with a disability, a majority requiring the use of a wheelchair or other mobility device. As the population ages, that number will increase. The ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) attempts to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to — and convenience in — public spaces. Unfortunately, many private homes lack basic accessibility features.

These features can be added to an existing home or included in building plans to allow those with varying levels of mobility to live as independently and safely as possible without sacrificing style. It makes sense to consider and plan for these possibilities now and make your home more accessible. We’ve put together a list of ideas to get you started thinking:

Accessible Kitchen
One of the most vital areas of any home is the kitchen. It might also appear to be a daunting task to update it into an accessible space while maintaining the look and functionality you want. A few simple changes can make your kitchen much more accessible without creating an institutional feel.

Lowering one or more countertops to wheelchair-accessible heights is a good place to start. New refrigerator and freezer drawers can be placed in base cabinets to allow frequently used items to remain visible and accessible at all times.

Reaching deep inside a base cabinet can be problematic for many, and the cabinet door can quickly get in the way. Replacing them with storage drawers for cookware and dinnerware can make these items easier to reach.

For cooking, changing out a traditional stove with an induction cooktop that stays cool to the touch can reduce the possibility of injury from burns. An under-counter microwave drawer with touchpad operation allows for use from a seated position.

Installing an oven with French Doors at an accessible-height can make lifting heavy cookware in and out more manageable and avoid having a hot door in the way of a wheelchair or walker.

Bathroom Accessibility

Another part of the home that you need to think about is the bathroom. Bathrooms can be not only inaccessible but also dangerous for people with mobility issues. Many household injuries happen because of slip-and-fall accidents in the bathroom.

Barrier-free (curbless) showers provide a smooth transition from the bathroom floor to the shower, eliminating a tripping hazard while keeping the water contained. They also allow a person using a walker or a wheelchair easy access. Slip-resistant flooring is also imperative.

Grab bars are another must and can be helpful for everyone. You can integrate them into the shower design to avoid them giving your bathroom an industrial feel.

Select a comfort-height or chair-height model toilet as they are taller than regular toilets making it easier for people with limited mobility and strength. You should also install handrails to help people balance while sitting and standing up.

There are some stylish options available for wheelchair-accessible vanities, providing easy access to the sink. These may include easy-access storage for everything from towels to hair-driers and other daily-use items.

Mobility Inside Your Home
Many homes, specifically older homes, are not ideal for individuals with mobility challenges. Many have too many doors, and it may make sense to remove some of them. Often, the doorways are not wide enough to easily navigate with a wheelchair or walker.

Ideally, your openings should be at least 36” wide to make them accessible. It is also helpful to replace round doorknobs with lever-style hardware to make them easier for people with arthritis or limited hand strength to operate. An excellent way to determine if a doorknob is accessible is if you can use it with a closed fist.

Flooring Options for Easy Mobility
When thinking of flooring, making sure they are not slippery is a good start. However, standard carpeting can make getting around difficult for people with wheelchairs, walkers, or fundamental mobility issues.

The best flooring choices are hardened materials that are relatively smooth yet slip-resistant. Ceramic tile, laminate, or hardwood floors are some excellent options for mobility-friendly floors. These surfaces are durable and allow more free movement for people with wheelchairs and walkers.

If you have different types of flooring throughout the house, make sure the transition treatment works well for wheels, and the change in height is 1/4 inch or less. And, make sure you carry this practice into your outdoor spaces, so patios and decks are accessible.

Technology That Improves Accessibility
Smart technology can often make things easier for everyone. Having voice-activated, touchless operations on appliances and systems can help in many situations. Voice-activated kitchen faucets can not only turn on and off but allow you to select the temperature of the water and even the amount of water, such as filling a pot with exactly 2 cups.

These are just a few changes to consider, and many of them would be helpful for everyone, young or old. Whether you have been planning a kitchen or bathroom remodel for other reasons or you’ve recently started considering accessibility in your home, we’re happy to discuss ways to integrate these disability-friendly upgrades into your home. The best home improvements always begin with a complete understanding of the options available. Give us a call today to find out how we can help.

Visit the Hammerschmidt Construction website for more information.

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Los Altos, CA 94024

Tel: 650.948.4200

Fax: 650.948.5222

About Us

Since 1996, Hammerschmidt Construction has provided award-winning design and remodeling services to homeowners in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as in the surrounding Silicon Valley. Our proven design+build process will help you envision new possibilities for improving the function, beauty and value of your home. We are also one of the area’s first Certified Green Builders (CGB) and are EPA lead certified.

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