Resource: Accessible Residential Design

Accessible Residential Design

The most common reasons that a person can no longer live alone or that they have to move into a care facility is that they can no longer access their kitchen appliances for meal preparation or they can’t maneuver in the confines of their bathroom. Their poor balance or decreased mobility may also prevent them from accessing their own bedroom if it is on another level. The good news is that there are several adaptations that can be made to the home to allow many more years of independent living. With adjustable height counters, sinks, and cook tops, the kitchen can be adapted for anyone to do meal prep. Bathroom tub/shower inserts can be done quickly and don’t require total demolition of the bathroom just to allow access the space with a walker or a wheelchair. Attractive chrome, bronze or brushed nickel grab bars match other fixtures in the bath and eliminate the institutional look so many people dread. Stair elevators, which provide access to another level of the house, can be installed even on stairs that have an angled turn or landing. Finally, to greatly reduce the risk of falling in the dark, add vacancy/occupancy sensors to the light controls of the bathroom, the stairs and hall.

For a consultation on how to make your home a safe sanctuary for any person any age, call Jean Cary to schedule a universal design consultation. She can be reached at (650)-593-9622 or

Here are some wonderful universal design products to enhance the accessibility of a home.

Replacement bathtub/shower inserts can allow ease of maneuverability in a small bathroom with a walker. These units are $2,000-$,5000 and don’t require that the bathroom walls be demolished. Installation takes just a few days. Note the sliding bench and the storage niches to get the bottles off the floor.

Adjustable height sink allows food prep from a wheelchair.

Simplify the task of unloading and loading a dishwasher with dishwashers in a drawer. These units fit in standard cabinet space. Each unit holds 8-10 place settings and is very energy efficient. Move the dirty dishes to the other drawer until it’s full; and you may never need to put the dishes back up in the cupboard!

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