Build your awareness of what universal design features should be incorporated into homes with this report, based on this real life demonstration home.
Universal Design in Kitchens and Bathrooms
By Rosemarie Rossetti
Copyright © 2005 Rosemarie Rossetti
Publication copyright © 2005 No Limits Communications, Inc.
Like two kids in a candy store, my husband, Mark Leder, and I roamed the International Builder’s Show in Orlando in January. Imagine a display floor the size of 40 football fields full of home products from1,600 exhibitors and you will understand the scope of this National Association of Home Builders exhibition.
We were on the hunt for products for a universal design home that we are building outside of Columbus, Ohio. This home will serve as a national model and learning laboratory for builders and architects, showcasing new methods, products and materials to make a home totally wheelchair accessible. This design will provide a livable environment for everyone in a household to function independently, regardless of age, height or physical limitation.
One of my favorite items at the show was the Kohler Pro CookSink. This appliance is a small sink with a faucet and stove in one unit. You use the faucet to fill a four or eight-quart double boiler with water and cook right in the sink. In addition to boiling, you can steam vegetables and poach food. Adding a second sink to the kitchen allows me to have a place to prepare foods at the same time someone else is working at the primary sink. This product was designed in 1999, but now is configured with 110/120- volt household power current, making it affordable to install.
In the kitchen, reachable space is especially important from my wheelchair, so I look favorably at appliances that multi-task. GE Profile Advantium 240 uses speedcooking, the power of halogen-light and microwave technology. It cooks eight times faster than conventional cooking. It is four ovens in one, doing traditional warming and microwaving, too. Wired for 240-volt, 30-amp service, the Advantium 240 is available for over-the-range or cooktop, or as a built-in wall oven. The over-the-range unit has a door that opens from the side. You can grill, bake, broil, brown and roast foods without a need to pre-heat the oven. A whole chicken cooks in 20 minutes.
GE also has a universal design catalogue featuring ADA-compliant and universal-design appliances, including washers, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, microwave ovens, ranges, ovens, and cooktops. Appliance modifications have been made regarding heights and the ease of operating the doors and controls. I really liked the sliding shelves on the side-by-side GE Profile refrigerator-freezer. By sliding out the shelves, I could reach the contents placed in the rear.
I want my new home to look “homey” not hospital-like, so I’m using stylish grab bars in the bathrooms. Great Grabz grab bars have the strength needed for support and are ADA compliant. They are available in a straight bar or curved design in 18-to 42-inch lengths. You can order your favorite color or select a metal finish, including brass, aluminum, chrome, silver and gold.
Moen decorative grab bars - Decorator and Kingsley Collections - come in brushed nickel, polished brass, chrome, or in a chrome and brass combination. There are matching bath accessories and faucets in 12 to 42-inch lengths. Moen also has a complete line of bath safety products, including shower chairs, in their home care line of products.
Ironing isn’t my favorite household duty; however, I am looking forward to receiving a new prototype built-in ironing center from Iron-a-Way. The center has a fold-down, swivel ironing board that stores in a cabinet on the wall, complete with a light, iron shelf and garment bar. The president, Reg Smidt, visited with me at the show and offered to make a unit that I could use from my wheelchair, and that my 6-foot-4- inch husband could also use.
I can’t wait to see Mark standing at the ironing board, as this will be a first in our nine years of marriage!
Universal Design Products
Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and Ms. Wheelchair Ohio 2004. For more information or to contact her, visit her Web site at www.RosemarieSpeaks.com.
Photos by Mark Leder