Universal design is powerful
Universal design sounds like a nice concept, even for people who use the term without fully understanding its meaning or intent. Who wouldn’t want a design that could be applicable to a wide range of people without playing favorites or excluding certain individuals for various reasons – even if it were done unintentionally?
While universal design may sound like a nice broad concept that should be incorporated into both new home construction and aging in place renovations, it often is misunderstood or only partially used.
True, a single universal design feature in a home of any vintage is better than that same home without such a feature. Still, there are so many opportunities to really impact the health, safety, comfort, convenience, and mobility of both homeowners and renters – across the age and ability spectrum.
Universal design appeals to any ability
Universal design is a mindset or a strategy for appealing to the needs of anyone who might be in someone’s home – full-time or as a guest. It definitely is not just a term that we toss about to sound like we are creating effective space. There is a definite point to universal design.
We need to ask ourselves if anyone is going to have a difficult time using any of the feature in the home we are evaluating or renovating. If a person can be excluded from using something easily or at all, that feature is not a universal design feature. It’s that simple. It might be expensive. chic, trendy, and have many other fine qualities, but we have selected a feature that limits someone’s ability to use it because of the physical effort or strength required or the way they would need to engage it physically to use it well, we should opt for an equally attractive feature or design that is universal.
It’s versatile and reliable
Universal design can be called upon to fill many of our decorating needs and ideas as we conceive and implement such features in the home to accommodate the needs of those residing in the residence full time as well as anyone who comes for a visit of any duration – a few hours to several days. It means that we can rely on what we have created and installed to be useful for anyone in the residence and attractive as well – looking as if it is supposed to be there and not just added for a special purpose.
If no one notices or remarks on our universal design implementations other than to say something about how attractive or functional they is, we can call it a success.