What is Universal Design?
Serving Austin & the Dallas Metroplex
Doris Younger, ASID, RID | TX Certified Interior Designer #2977

What is Universal Design?

No one wants to feel like they are a prisoner in their own home.  However, many of today’s homes, new as well as old, are not designed for independence.  Most homes are designed for active adults and not for someone with limited mobility or needing special care.  For instance, if you were in a wheelchair and your home had stairs, could you still access a full bathroom downstairs, or if you needed to sit while showering, would you have a seat in the shower with full access to the controls?  Also, would a wheelchair fit through the doorways in your home and would you be able to function in your kitchen?
Creating a home that is a safe, functional, comfortable and a more supportive environment for the broadest range of people is the concept of Universal Design.   This can be important for people of any age, not just the elderly, because mobility can be temporarily altered, for example, because of a broken leg or due to a short term illness.
Universal Design incorporates such elements as step-less entryways, lever style handles on doors and faucets, wider doorways, grab bars in baths, cabinets with pull out shelves, kitchen counters at several heights to accommodate different tasks and postures and light switches with large flat panels rather than toggle switches.  For people with vision limitations, good lighting is essential, particularly “task lighting” in areas where work is performed like kitchens and desks.  Well lit entryways, hallways, steps and closets are important and the use of sensors or timers are ideal in these areas.  Also included in Universal Design are air quality issues, noise levels and factors affecting emotional well being.  Enhancements such as these benefit people of all ages and abilities and help reduce the possibility of falls and accidents.
As baby boomers are approaching retirement age and as life expectancy rises, there is a growing interest in the importance of Universal Design and “aging in place”.  Many of these smaller modifications can be done by a home owner in an existing home at a modest cost.  However for larger applications or building a new home, a qualified interior designer experienced in Universal Design can help with the best decisions for you ensuring you will enjoy your home for years to come.

Just for Fun with Doris Younger Designs

The evolution of furniture from utilitarian to artful is often a key to the manners, mores and means of other times and places.  In that spirit and just for fun, here are “romance” stories about some of those pieces picked up over thirty five years of studying and practicing interior design.  Are they true? I don’t know for sure but if not, I’m sure at the very least they contain seeds of truth in the development of traditional furniture styles and, as I said, just for fun……. Read More fun stories here.