How to Make Your Home More Accessible

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Your home can age with you, meeting new needs as your abilities change.  Your home can be remodeled for improved accessibility, and incorporating even a few of the following modifications makes life easier for everyone.

Entryways

Welcome everyone with accessibility needs into your home with:
• At least one zero-clearance entry that can be reached from the driveway or sidewalk

concrete accessible ramp How to Make Your Home More Accessible

• A ramp made of non-slip materials that provide a good grip for wheelchairs and walkers, such as textured concrete (above) or pavers

• A covered, well-lit area in front of the door for shelter from the elements and security while manipulating equipment or keys

keyless lever entry How to Make Your Home More Accessible

• A keyless push-button lockset (above) erases the need for fumbling with keys; a lever door handle is easier to use than a round knob or thumb latch

• Once inside, a table or bench by the door helps those with mobility equipment and serves as an area to place packages and keys.

Doorways

Doorways a minimum of 32” wide make it possible for those in walkers or wheelchairs to get through. The standard doorway width is 30”, and when a door is swung open, the thickness of the door and its hinges eat up more of that clearance space.

swing away door hinge How to Make Your Home More Accessible

If installing a 32” wide door jamb is not possible, you can gain extra space by replacing existing hinges with swing-away hinges that allow a door to completely swing away from the opening, which gives you more clearance space.

Bathrooms

Convert a bath on the main level of the home for accessibility with:
• Plenty of open floor space for navigating wheelchairs or walkers

mosby accessible shower How to Make Your Home More Accessible

• Grab bars in the shower/tub area, next to the toilet and near the sink

• A vanity with open-access under the sink with room for a wheelchair or regular chair

• A lever-handle water faucet can be turned on and off with the push of a hand

• A zero-clearance walk-in shower with a bench seat

Kitchens

You can continue to enjoy your kitchen when it’s easier to use. Universal design features include:
• Base cabinets drawers for storing and accessing dishes and your most-used items

dishwasher drawer2 How to Make Your Home More Accessible

• Dishwasher, refrigerator and microwave drawers that are eay to access and operate

• Cabinet pulls that are larger with plenty of room for fingers

• Lower counter heights for those in wheelchairs or who need to sit

• Countertops of a contrasting color from surrounding cabinets and walls makes it easier to differentiate between surfaces

Lighting

Clearly seeing what’s around you reduces accidents. Improvements include:
• Adding lights at all entries to the home; motion-activated lights double your convenience and safety

• Adding task lighting under cabinets to illuminate countertops and vanities

• Increasing lighting in hallways and high traffic areas

rocker lite switch 250x250 How to Make Your Home More Accessible

• Placing light switches lower on the wall. Rocker-style switches (above) are easier to navigate than flip-style.

Flooring

Non-slip flooring is essential, yet it must also be smooth enough for wheelchairs and walkers.  Cork is an ideal accessible flooring solution because it is smooth, yet provides grip, and is softer than wood while feeling warm to bare feet.  Flooring in a sharply contrasting shade to the walls makes boundaries easier to see.

These accessible modifications will keep you productive and safe while still enjoying the beauty of your home. To make your Metro St. Louis home barrier-free, work with Mosby Building Arts’ staff of certified accessibility designers and builders. Learn more about Mosby’s accessible design services. Call the Mosby office at 314.909.1800 or contact them here.

Plan Now for an Accessible Bathroom

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

grab bar in shower Plan Now for an Accessible Bathroom

When we’re in good shape, we seldom think about mobility. Contemplating how the aging process will transform our relationship to the physical world is not appealing, and we don’t usually think about how a future surgery or mishap would impact our daily habits.

But you can plan in advance to be ready for any future changes in your mobility.

Planning for the Future

Bathroom grab bars are a good idea for all ages because no one is immune to slippery surfaces. Though people still associate them with growing old, that’s often not the case. Grab bars come in hundreds of styles and finishes, making them a design feature that is both beautiful and functional.

If grabs bars are not part of your current bathroom remodel design scheme, your builder can set it up behind the scenes so they can be installed quickly and securely in the future.

grab bar blocking Plan Now for an Accessible Bathroom

While the walls are exposed during a bathroom remodel, carpenters can install wood blocks between the studs in the areas where grab bars would most logically be placed. This is referred to as “blocking,” and is shown in the photo above. Drywall and other finishes cover it up, but the extra bracing is already there should you ever need it. This type of advance planning saves you from the hassle and delay of having portions of a wall torn out to properly install grab bars during a time you may need them as quickly as possible.

Hiding in Plain Sight

walk in shower Plan Now for an Accessible Bathroom

Would you believe that the shower shown above is accessible? To the able-bodied, it’s a “wow” shower. To someone in a wheelchair or using a walker, it’s usable because of the zero-clearance walk-in access and hand-held shower head.

This is a good example of universal design, which is creating spaces that can be used by people of all ages and abilities. Bathroom designers who are Certified Aging In-Place Specialists (CAPS) can seamlessly incorporate accessibility features into the design plan so that your dream bathroom will be stunning and functional for every stage of life.

Other accessible bathroom designs that make good sense include built-in or retractable bench seating in the shower, adjustable-height shower heads, and comfort-height toilets. That so many of these features are now considered luxury upgrades in a bathroom remodel shows just how beautiful mobility can be.

When you work with the CAPS bathroom designers at Mosby Building Arts, you will have conversations about your current and future accessibility needs. These ideas will inform where to place extra blocking in the walls during construction and what type of fixtures and features you will select during the design phase of your project. And you will have the additional security of knowing your bathroom remodel will delight for a lifetime.

Learn more about accessible bathroom design, and let Mosby take care of all your remodeling details by calling 314.909.1800 or contact them here.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

01 stay or go Should I Stay or Should I Go?

There often comes a time when your home doesn’t seem as friendly as it used to be. The staircases can feel like mountain climbing and stepping in and out of the shower becomes an obstacle course. You’ve changed while the house has stayed the same.

When this happens, a common thought is to sell the home and move to a retirement community that is more accommodating to an aging lifestyle. But what if the home you already love could change along with you?

Just as homes are remodeled to handle a growing family in the early years, it can again be remodeled to work with your changing abilities in the later years. This concept is known as aging in-place, with architects and designers becoming certified in a form of accessible design that gives the maturing Baby Boom generation the freedom of modifying homes to work with their changing lifestyles.

Accessible design is solution-based remodeling. For example, climbing the stairs to get to your master bedroom upstairs or the laundry in the basement can be hard on older legs. Moving your master suite and laundry to the main floor of the house removes the stair-climbing issue. This is possible by re-configuring the floorplan to convert spaces no longer used as much as they once were into the places you need to use every day.

02 stay or go Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Your master bathroom is another key accessible design area. Converting a tub with shower into a walk-in shower with bench seating and handheld shower head transforms an obstacle into an asset that is just as functional as it is beautiful.

When Is Accessible Design Right for You?

There are important factors to weigh when deciding if you should stay in your current home or move to a retirement community:

• If you love your current home, the neighborhood and the community amenities you’re familiar with, it may be better for your peace of mind and happiness to modify rather than relocate.

• If you’re free – or nearly free – of monthly mortgage payments, it may be more cost effective to remodel for accessibility than incur the expense of moving and taking on a monthly lease or new mortgage.

• If you’re already contemplating remodeling a home you plan to stay in, incorporating accessibility features now can help you benefit from this investment for an even longer period of time.

• If you’re wondering how accessible features will affect re-sale value, you can learn from a Certified Aging In-Place Specialist (CAPS) how mobility assists all generations, and how these universal design features make a home desirable for a broad range of buyers.

03 stay or go Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should you stay or should you go? Educating yourself on the benefits of accessible design is an important step in answering this question. Mosby Building Arts has deeply experienced Certified Aging In-Place Specialist on staff, and their accessible design process begins with exploring the details of how you live, and what new challenges you are facing now or anticipate facing in the future. These needs are coupled with your aesthetic desires to create a home that is as beautiful as it is functional. And Mosby craftsmen build and install all your accessible features with the care and quality you expect for long-lasting value.

To explore how to stay in your home for a lifetime, call the Mosby office at 314.909.1800 or contact them here.

Universal Design Indoors and Out

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

50+ living in your own home is all about independent, barrier-free comfort and function.  It’s a form of accessibility that benefits all the generations of your family and friends who come into your home, which is why it is also known as Universal Design.

01 mosby couples Universal Design Indoors and Out

Remaining in your home requires thinking about how your life is currently, and what your needs might be for the future.  This is where a Certified Aging In-Place Specialist (CAPS) can assist you with the questions, designs and remodeling you will need to turn your house into a home for a lifetime.

Interior Accessible Design

A St. Louis couple had been in the same home for decades.  They had raised a family there, and their children and grandchildren all lived nearby.  Nearing retirement, they realized that they wanted to stay in their own home within the their community, but wanted to explore how to prepare the house for the years ahead.

Working with a Mosby Building Arts CAPS designer, they reviewed current needs and future concerns and decided to make the master bathroom their first mobility project because this where we tend to first notice changing capabilities.  Standing in the shower, the low height of a toilet bowl or operating the hot and cold taps on the sink becomes a bit more difficult.  There are many functional solutions to all of these issues, but it should also be attractive so that we are inspired by our surroundings.  Or as we say about all our CAPS remodeling projects: “Mobility Is Beautiful!”

02 mosby mobility bathroom Universal Design Indoors and Out

To look at this bathroom, you would not immediately know that it’s accessible, but it certainly is.  The His and Hers bathroom vanities have single-lever faucet handles for ease of use, and are separated by a chair-height counter top with open space below.  This can accommodate a chair now or a wheelchair in the future.

03 mosby caps toilet Universal Design Indoors and Out

The toilet is of taller height than average with a grab bar to the right which makes it easier to access, and comes with a push-button control pad mounted to the bathroom cabinet.

04 mosby mobility shower Universal Design Indoors and Out

The walk-in shower has a low-clearance threshold, multiple brushed, stainless grab bars, a handheld shower wand and a retractable teak wood bench mounted to the wall.

See more photos of this accessible bathroom project.

All of these accessible master bathroom items can be used now for ease of use and security, and should there be a time when they need these features, having them already in place helps with these changes.  And at all times, it is a beautiful space that is already enhancing their lifestyle.

Exterior Accessible Design

05 mosby accessible stairs Universal Design Indoors and Out

We have a remodeling client that we’ve worked with on previous mobility projects.  She is currently vibrant and active, but is thinking ahead and prefers to be prepared.  We have moved her laundry room from the basement to a new ground floor addition off the garage, and even built new, shallow steps for easier access from the garage to the house (above).

She is also a veteran gardener with a gorgeous backyard, so we came up with designs to make her outdoor living just as accessible as indoors.  We designed and built a new patio with a lightly textured concrete surface for better traction, and a screen porch with a zero-clearance entry from the patio so that a walker or wheelchair.

06 mosby accessible ramp Universal Design Indoors and Out

Her favorite feature is the concrete ramp that takes one from the patio down into the garden.  She already enjoys how convenient the lack of steps is, which highlights how so many of the universal designs just make good sense for everyone who uses them.

See more photos of this project.

Other features that add mobility and beauty to outdoor living include increased lighting, raised flower planters and beds, raised height water spigots and wide sliding or French doors leading out to the area. When done properly, nothing looks out of the ordinary because it looks extraordinary.

Mosby Building Arts has three CAPS team members – including Scott Mosby who was the first national CAPS ambassador – who are certified and experienced at helping you live more comfortably in your home for all your days.  To explore your options for beautiful mobility, call us at 314.909.1800 or contact us here.

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