Kitchen & Bath Design News

JUL 2014

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40 | Kitchen & Bath Design News July 2014 a wheelchair, but it's also the style people are looking for." B a rb B a ker, pa r t ner, CAPS, Transitions Remodel- ing, indicates that her frm recommends them for most baths as well. "Once people understand the option, it's almost a no-brainer," she says, noting that the curb- free shower in the showroom gets a lot of attention for its beauty and function. Both grab bars and curb- less showers promote safety for everyone . "A vertical grab bar should be installed in ev- ery bathing unit," says Saling. "It's human nature that if a grab bar is available, people will use it. If everyone in- cluded one in their designs, it would make such a difer- ence in safety." Trip hazards are very high in a bathroom as well, notes Mueller. "People can trip over a threshold, no matter their age or circumstance," she says. McCune agrees. "Anyone standing on one foot while negotiating the other over a 4" to 6" curb on a wet surface can fall … it doesn't matter who you are," he states. To further enhance safety and convenience in the bath, McCune and Mueller often include a handheld shower because "at any moment, any of us could need one." Mueller likes to further convenience and safety by adding a bench because "ev- eryone likes to sit," she says. Brunet frequently adds shower rails so the shower- head can slide up and down based on the height of the user. Comfort-height toilets are another popular element that ease use for everyone. IN THE KITCHEN Universal Design is being mainstreamed into the kitch - en as well. Tables attached to islands provide easy ac- cess to seating so everyone, including grandparents and children, can sit together. Tall cabinets as opposed to walk- in pantries with deep shelves enhance usability, and cabine- try equipped with roll-out and pull-out shelves and drawers make content retrieval easy … again, for everyone. "I love putting in drawers instead of cabinets with doors," says Mueller. "People don't have to get on their hands and knees to get something out of the back of the cabinet." Brunet also prefers draw- ers, adding ease of cleaning to the list of benefts. "And if you have doors, pull-outs are essential," she says. Aftermarket manufactur- ers are also ofering cabinet options, such as pull-down shelves, that can make ac- cess easier. "These are one of my favorite Universal Design features," says Carol Green, occupational therapist, Tran- sitions Remodeling. "You can grab the bottom of the shelf to pull the contents down and out of the cabinet." Brunet is having a lot of conversations with her clients about appliance placement, especially when it comes to microwaves. "I usually place them just underneath the countertop," she says, noting she oftentimes lowers wall ovens to make them more accessible as well. McCune and the team at Transitions Remodeling have installed cooktops that raise and lower based on need. "With the push of a button, the cooktop can raise and lower to accommodate a short person, a tall person or someone who just wants to see what is inside a stock pot on the cooktop," says Saling. THE EXTRAS Regardless of whether it's a kitchen or a bath, many de- signers KBDN spoke with give special attention to lighting selection and placement as it relates to Universal Design. "Lighting has an immedi- ate impact and it's imperative to have the right amount of light with the right kind of light in the right spot for the space to function properly and for the person working there to be safe," says Brunet. "I like to layer lighting accord- ing to my mantra of up, down and all around. Up lighting is for stairs or wall sconces. Down lighting is task lighting, such as undercabinet lighting or pendants. All around light- ing is general lighting." Brunet also pays attention to bulbs, specifying those with a coating to reduce glare. Sometimes it isn't neces- sarily the big things that ofer the most convenience. "It isn't so much that something is Universal Design," says Green. "It's that it's easier to use, and oftentimes is more attractive." Touch faucets automati- cally start and stop water f low without turning any- thing. Lever handles on doors and faucets are easier to oper- ate than knobs and pulls. All of these can be beautiful, and oftentimes are not any more expensive. "I'm a designer who loves crystal knobs," says McCune. "At the same time, they aren't always logical." Brunet changes the loca- tion of receptacles, moving them to more convenient places such as on the front or to the side of a cabinet. "In a kitchen, you don't have to lean over a hot cooktop or open range," she says. Raising wall receptacles to 18" to 20" of the foor is another way Brunet adds convenience. "You don't have to bend down as far," she explains. "Basically, they're hidden, or closely hidden, behind a piece of furniture, so they aren't distracting to the room." Wider doorways make mov i ng bet ween spaces easier, and McCune likes to totally eliminate barriers and steps for accessing the home. ADDED VALUE The value of adding Universal Design elements is nearly lim- itless. "It helps keep people in their homes longer, and helps them through temporary situ- ations," says McCune. It's also an attitude. "The longer you can stay in your home, the more purpose you have in life." People a re becom i ng more accepting of Universal Design, adds Mueller. "Hope- fully in the next 10 years, much of Universal Design will be standard," she says. "It just makes sense. If you're looking out for your clients' best interest, you want to de- sign a space that is beautiful, functional, safe, convenient and good for their health and well being." " T he va lue i s w it hout a doubt acce s sibi l it y for everybody, and to provide fex- ibility and longevity throughout the user's time in the home," says Brunet. Saling notes that Univer- sal Design is about visitors, too. "It's about trying to in- clude anyone who might enter the space and accom- modating their diferences," he says. "If it's easily acces- sible, you won't have someone climbing on a chair trying to reach something. It's easier living and more accommo- dating, for everyone, whether they are disabled at some level or not." Universal Design • Right: Barb Baker is an advocate of using grab bars in the bath wherever possible. 'We know grab bars are useful for everybody,' she says. 'But there is stigma out there so we try to help people better understand that they are great for balance…for everybody.' • Below: This kitchen, designed by Transitions Remodeling, features a spacious foor plan, with a wide opening to access the dining room. 'We encourage people to consider open design and the benefts it can bring if something should happen,' says Carol Green. • Benches (above) and curbless showers (at right) promote safety in a wet environment, which is a component Barb Mueller stresses as it relates to Universal Design. 'I try to emphasize that Universal Design can be beautiful as well,' she says. 'It doesn't have to look institutional.' Photos: Emily Saling KBD_38-41_UniversalDesign.indd 40 6/16/14 2:32 PM

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