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Alure Home Improvement’s Kitchen & Bath Designer Sherry Gossett shares her five tips for universal design. She’s got a lot of helpful information for homeowners to consider.

Her First Tip is just common sense: Make your design useful for people with diverse abilities.

“For example, you could put a seat in the shower,” Gossett says in a recent episode of Alure’s “My Five Tips.” “You could use it to shave your legs, or you might actually have to sit on it.”

In other words, this design element is a practical measure that can assist those people who have balance issues and don’t want to worry about falling in the shower. Those who don’t need to worry aren’t inconvenienced by the seat’s presence.

Another one of her recommendations is to use roll-out shelves in the kitchen cabinets.

“It can be for convenience,” she says, “or so you don’t have to bend so much.”

For the kitchen sink, she advises that homeowners get fixtures that can be manipulated easily. She likes lever handles for the faucet.

Here’s a question for homeowners: Have you ever taken “the fist test”? Let Gossett explain. It’s easier than you might think.

“If you can work the faucet with a closed fist,” Gossett says, “then it is suitable for someone with severe arthritis. This applies to doorknobs, too!”

And how about using multiple showerheads in the shower? As Gossett explains, these fixtures can be “for luxury or for necessity.”

If the resident has limited mobility, then they can get a good spray from several directions rather than just from an overhead fixture.

“All these things will make life easier!” she insists.

Here’s her Second Tip: Universal design should allow for low physical effort.

“Create a kitchen work triangle to reduce extra steps with heavy trays and dishes,” she suggests. By that, she means to focus on the sink, the stove and the preparation area.

Adding an island in the middle of the kitchen can provide additional counter space and storage. But Gossett recommends that you make sure that there is at least 42 inches separating the island from the wall cabinets in order to allow enough room for someone in a wheel-chair to navigate easily around the kitchen.

Tip Number Three: Minimize the hazards and remember the details.

This solution can be as simple as adding a towel rack close to the shower and using a non-slip surface for the flooring. Inside the shower stall, put a grab bar on the wall to provide much-needed stability.

“If you remember the details, you’ll minimize the hazards,” she says.

Tip Number Four: Make design bright!

“Natural light has psychological benefits for everyone,” Gossett observes. If possible, install a skylight in the bathroom ceiling, a window or even a solar tube.

“Keep it bright and light!” she says.

Tip Number Five: Consider the placement of your personal items.

Your rarely used objects, such as china and crystal, should be stowed away on the upper shelves of your closet or cabinet. Gossett recommends that your most-used items should be stored about 24 inches to a yard above the ground, which for most people is at waist level. These objects would include “your silverware, your coffee, your toothbrush, your towels,” says Gossett. Occasionally used items and heavy items can go under the sink, she suggests.

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“These are my five tips for universal design to ensure that you can enjoy your home forever!” Gossett says. “All these tips will make your life easier!”

 

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