Whether you are living with a disability or not, making your home more accessible is always a good idea. Not only does an accessible space make your home more inviting and functional for people of all ages and abilities, but it also makes it more marketable should you ever decide to sell in the future. And while trends in home design and decor come and go, there are a few current trends that can actually make your home more accessible (and super stylish too).
The best part about home trends that make your home more accessible? As Danielle Clayton, lead designer at DH Designs puts it, “Accessible interior design trends benefit so many and disadvantage no one, making them truly inclusive!” Now that’s something we can get behind. Here are 6 home trends that make your home more accessible.
Meet the Expert
- Danielle Clayton is the lead designer at DH Designs, an interior design and home staging company.
- Sarah Barnard is a WELL and LEED accredited designer and owner of Sarah Barnard Design.
- Catherine Mack is the co-owner of House Buyer Network, a real estate investment company.
One of the biggest trends in home design over the past few decades has been the shift towards large, open-concept spaces, and Clayton says they are here to stay. She notes that thoughtful, functional design is particularly important in high-traffic areas of the home such as the kitchen, living room, and dining room, and open-concept design is an easy way to make these rooms more accessible for people living with a range of different disabilities.
Technology has come a long way in the past several years and smart automation has made its way into nearly every part of home design. From touchless faucets to smart lighting, temperature control, and appliances, experts agree that home automation is an integral part of making a space more accessible for many people living with disabilities. “With smart home systems, pre-determined schedules and settings can be programmed for lights, window treatments, door and window locks, and appliances,” says Sarah Barnard of Sarah Barnard Design. “Operating these systems remotely or programming them to a daily schedule can offer customization and ease of use to match a range of personalized needs,” she adds.
Open shelving has been trending over the past few years, particularly in kitchens and other high-traffic areas like laundry rooms, living rooms, and more. While some find the trend impractical to maintain long-term (there’s no hiding your messes with open shelving), Clayton points out that it is actually a great way to make spaces more accessible. Open shelving “allows for easy access to everyday items and removes the need for extra movement,” she says. Eliminating cabinet doors and/or drawers and using shelves instead is a great option for people with mobility issues and other types of disabilities.
Where built-in tubs and showers were once standard in bathroom design, wet rooms are now back in style. A wet room is a bathroom that is totally waterproofed with a walk-in shower area that is at the same level as the rest of the floor. "For some time steps leading up to a shower were considered stylish but now are very much 'out,'”says Catherine Mack, co-owner of House Buyer Network. “One level and open is the way to go giving complete access for those with disabilities.”
Utilize Drawers in the Kitchen
When it comes to accessibility and making the most out of your kitchen space, Clayton and Barnard both agree that utilizing drawers in the kitchen is a good idea. Opting for drawers in place of doors in base cabinets eliminates hard-to-reach areas at the back of cupboards, says Clayton, while also maximizing storage potential. Installing additional refrigeration and beverage drawers is a great way to increase accessibility and convenience, adds Barnard, particularly if using a standard refrigerator is difficult.
Wide Entryways and Doors
It was once considered stylish to have entry doors with sidelights but lately, homeowners have been opting for wider doors or double doors in place of these extra panels, says Mack. This preference for larger doors extends beyond just the entryway too, with homeowners choosing larger and more stately doors throughout the entire home. For individuals using mobility aids like walkers and wheelchairs, these wider doorways can make all the difference in making a home accessible to them.