Regardless of the time of year, people enjoy having visitors come to their home – because they have invited them for dinner, cocktails, a pool party, to watch a movie or the big game, to sit and visit, to celebrate a birthday or special occasion, for a holiday party, or several other reasons. We are social beings that enjoy having people visit us, and we do the same by going to their homes – invited or impromptu.
However, the key to a successful interaction and visit is the ability of people to enter each other’s homes without difficulty, considerations, or challenges.Therefore, using or having visitable design in our homes is a great way to show people visiting us that we care about them and their comfort. It truly welcomes them in a visible, positive way.
So, what exactly is visitable design? It is easy entrance and access to the main floor of the home to all who visit our homes. It means having an entry with no barriers, no steps that might be hard to climb or negotiate, a large enough entry stoop for people to stand on while accessing and entering our front door (with the appropriate covering for weather protection), plenty of lighting at the entrance to eliminate shadows and any hint of anything otherwise scary, no narrow doorways or hallways that might restrict access or passage, and a bathroom or powder room that is easy to enter and use (regardless of someone’s limitations or abilities).
Whether we or our clients entertain and have people into our homes frequently or just occasionally, visitable design definitely shows other people that we care about their ease of access to our homes and their general comfort level and sense of well-being in visiting us. Again, the reasons for having people over for a visit can range from having a dinner party, hosting a backyard cookout or pool party, conducting a discussion group or Bible or book study, or playing cars or board games. It could be a big game on the TV that is the draw. It could be a political discussion, a visit by a candidate, or poker night. It could be visiting family members from out of town. The list is long of the people that might visit you and the reasons or events that would prompt that visit.
The important thing is that when those people arrive at our front door – whoever they are and whether they have ever visited us before or not – that they feel welcome and not turned off or dissuaded from attempting to enter by any challenges they see, With there being none, there is no issue, and they regard us us as a great and thoughtful host.
We won’t always know the physical abilities of someone we invite to enter our home or maneuver through it once they are there. Even people you know well but haven’t seen or spoken with recently may have had something happen that limits their ability to enter and move around comfortably in your home. A person visiting could be some’one’s “plus-one” or a visiting relative or co-worker. We can’t be expected to know about the physical abilities (or lack of them) for every person that might be coming to our homes for an occasion. It’s not always proper or appropriate to ask in advance either.
Therefore, by taking steps to eliminate barriers for anyone entering and traversing the main areas of our homes, we don’t need to worry anymore about how well someone who is invited (or tags along with someone else) to an event we are hosting can function in our homes. This is a major benefit of creating a visitable living environment.
All this said, with the emphasis on people who don’t live with us visiting us or coming into our homes occasionally and being able to function, there is an extremely important aspect of visitability that needs to be addressed. As important as it is to create an atmosphere and environment where anyone coming to and into our homes can enter and use them effectively without any barriers or limitations, the same applies to us and the others in our households who reside in our homes full-time. Visitability applies no less to us!
Thus, the concept of visitability, while directed at people coming into our homes who don’t live there on a regular basis, actually extends to anyone coming into our homes and includes us and all those in our household. Every person coming into our space and using the inside, front yard, or backyard space should be able to feel comfortable and unrestricted in their movements. This is visitability.