What does the word ‘accessibility’ mean to you? It might give you an image of gently sloping ramps and wide door frames, as well as elevator access and countertops that sit at a lower level. Just little changes in infrastructure that make the world more equal and accessible.
But while all of these things are excellent for accommodating people who need support, what’s it got to do with your home? Well, if you’ve got a disabled friend or relative, or you’re living with a chronic condition that affects your mobility, accessible design tricks could go a long way to help!
Decorating in a way to suit the way you lead your life is always the best way. You need both function and aesthetics to reign supreme within your four walls. But if you’ve got no idea how to make such changes, the idea of creating an accessible environment might sound like a lot of work.
That’s why we’ve listed a few of our favorite accessible changes down below. In the same way you can change to live sustainably, you can change your home to accommodate the needs of both you and your loved ones.
Lay Wooden Flooring and Rugs, Rather Than Carpet
Wooden flooring is a lot easier on wheels, crutches, and walking sticks, as well as on legs that cramp or sometimes have a mind of their own. Carpets can be a little too soft to be supportive, or can tether and thread around the edges, meaning it can become a trip hazard for anyone who already has a lower dexterity.
So, if you’ve always liked the look of wooden or lino flooring, now’s your chance to get some installed. You can then layer up rugs in areas where you tend to sit, such as under the coffee table or in front of the TV. You can add a whole new dimension of personal style when you use your floor as a customisable area, rather than just carpeting and calling it a day.
Install Handrails in the Bathroom
Handrails in the bathroom are unobtrusive, great for accessibility, and can even help to add some extra storage. You’ve got new places to hang wet towels and flannels now! But if you’ve got a disabled loved one over and they need to use the toilet, an available handrail is an incredible example of showing physical support.
If you want, you could also fit a shower seat, which is great for taking a perch on even if you’re OK to stand up. Early morning or late night showers, when you’re tired and just want to go to bed, are much easier to manage when you’ve got a wet room seat to pull down!
Along this same design line, you could consider converting your entire bathroom into a walk in wet room. If there are no limits as to where the water can go, as the whole room is slip proof and water resistant, you’ll never have to worry about puddles and spills again. Wet rooms can even be less prone to mold, meaning you’ll have an easier time cleaning the bathroom as well.
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Use Some Smart Tech
Smart tech is the best for supporting someone with a lower mobility level. Installing some motorised blinds that can be opened and closed with just your voice means you never have to touch the blinds again. You don’t even have to get out of bed to let the sun in in the morning!
For a disabled loved one, that’s certainly going to help them maintain a sense of confidence and dignity when they’re staying over and don’t want to call for help. To maximise on this, you can also replace your current TV with a smart version, which is again voice activated and requires no plug-ins in order to run your favorite apps, like Netflix or Disney+.
Move Your Furniture Back
If you’ve got a living setup where furniture is quite close together, think about using all the space in your rooms and moving things apart as much as you can. If someone in a wheelchair needs to get through, this will mean they won’t struggle to fit past two sofas that are pushed a little too close towards the TV.
Measure your space and see what you’re working with. If you move things back, you might even find you’ve got room for an extra bookcase or armchair!
Fix Light Switches by the Bed
Fixing a light switch just above a bedside cabinet, once again, means people don’t have to get up to turn the lights on. It also means that if you forget to switch it off, you don’t have to get out of your comfortable bed! If someone needs to use the toilet in the middle of the night, or wants to get a drink without waking anyone up, a bedside light switch will be a Godsend.
Fit an Adjustable Kitchen Island
If you can’t make any changes to your current kitchen counters, and it’d be a lot of work to install a pulley system where the height can be changed, think about installing an adjustable kitchen island instead. The island doesn’t even need to float – you can tack it onto a spare wall and allow someone with a lower height level to use your kitchen whenever they need to.
Buy a Temporary Ramp
If you have no room for a permanent ramp, or you don’t want to make too many changes to the exterior of your home, you can just buy a temporary ramp. You can set one of these up very easily, let someone use it, and then dismantle it and pop it back into the cupboard. Indeed, you don’t need to go all out to make accessible changes, especially if you’re working with a low budget, but portable fixes can still go a long way.
If you want to incorporate accessibility into your home, these are the ways to do it. Small changes can be very effective.
Header Image by Getty Images via Unsplash