A beautiful house doesn’t have to be complicated. While staircases and 3-level homes are always nice to look at, sometimes homeowners have a certain health condition that prevents them from living a normal life. Disabled people have very special needs, especially in terms of mobility and accessibility, so they must live in a place with very specific characteristics to fulfill their needs.
If you’re looking to build or adapt a gorgeous living space to be suitable for using a wheelchair, keep reading this article to find out the best interior design tips for the disabled.
1. Build Hallways Wide Enough for a Wheelchair
Since wheelchairs have a wide frame and limited sideways movements, the first thing you need to look for in a disabled-friendly house is wide hallways. Asides from the wheelchair, some people have special needs training or rehabilitation equipment that’s also bulky.
To move around freely through the different bedrooms, a hallway must be at least 5 feet wide. Not only is this the perfect space, but you’ll also have luminous and spacious areas, where you can place mirrors or wall lamps to make your home look fancier.
2. Build a Beautiful Walk-in Shower
A walk-in shower with a wheelchair ramp is one where the person can walk-in or roll in with their chair directly without having any obstacles in their way. A walk-in shower must have no borders, railings, edges, and steps on the floor. Without an obstacle in the ground, both the disabled and even the elderly can access it easily and take a safer shower, reducing the chances of accidents.
A walk-in shower will look even more elegant if you forego the shower curtain (which can get tangled in a wheelchair). You can install a tainted glass wall or even build a cool brick wall to give you some privacy without having any real obstacles in your way.
If you don’t have a rust-free wheelchair that can be safely used underwater, you can also place a free-standing shower stool, or mount a wall seat that combines with the rest of the bathroom. Also, look for security handles that can be placed in the shower or toilet area, and you might also want to consider rods, grab bars and lever handles to make your place more secure.
3. Install Big Light Switches at a Lower level
Most people don’t take light switches into account but it’s another major issue for people with disabilities, especially those who are independent or even live alone. If you want to build or remodel your house to make it disabled-friendly, consider placing your light switches at a lower level so people in wheelchairs can easily use them.
An accessible light switch must be placed no taller than 3 feet, and you should also look for big and aesthetic light switches because sometimes people have problems with fine motor skills and are likely to miss the switch with their first attempt at turning the light on.
Related: Traveling Tips for the Disabled
4. Use Handles Instead of Knobs all over the House
Disabled people might also face a challenge when trying to move around in a closet, pantry, or any other room where knobs are placed. If you want to install accessible drawers and wardrobes, think of placing handles instead of knobs. A handle, due to its shape and size, is way easier to pull from any height and position.
5. Work with Spacious Rooms
Spacious rooms are the key to a beautiful and accessible house for disabled people. With this in mind, you’ll need to build a place where there are at least 5-foot margins on the borders of the rooms and at least 4 feet between each piece of furniture.
By having enough space you’ll be able to wheel freely between all of your rooms, and also you’ll be able to use all of your appliances and furniture by having enough space between them.
6. Place a Security-Glass Window Near the Door
The peephole of a door is usually placed at a height that is practically unreachable for those who are in a wheelchair. To create an accessible, and safe, alternative for the disabled, you can create a window at a lower height right by the door. Make sure that the window has a double layer of glass for the security of the one who is looking from inside.
7. Don’t Build High Cupboards, Only Floor Level Pantries
Someone in a wheelchair might not be able to access countertops or cupboards that are above the height of their head. Things like hanging pots, pan racks, and the kitchen bell extractor could be a real obstacle for a disabled person.
With this in mind, design and build a kitchen with only lower-level cupboards and pantries. You can take it a step further and place surfaces where a wheelchair can comfortably get up close with enough legroom for the wheelchair occupant. The stove and the kitchen might be a bit more tricky, but you can place a wall-mounted oven and a sink mounted directly to the wall.
8. Install Non-Slip Floor in the Bathrooms
You also need to think of the flooring material you use as another basic consideration for interior designing for the disabled. While there is a big array of options for fancy bathroom tiles and luxurious materials such as marble, the truth is most of these floorings are highly dangerous because of their slippery and smooth condition.
To reduce the risk of accidents, you need to look specifically for non-slip or low-slip flooring which matches the color of the bathroom. This is a safer option and a wheelchair might be controlled easier even when the floor gets wet and even when rolling over a wheelchair ramp.
9. Build Doors at Least 2.6 Feet Wide
As stated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the recommended or approved size of a doorway for disabled people to walk through comfortably is at least 2.6 feet. Since an average wheelchair is 2.2 feet wide, this is enough space for a person to wheel themselves in without any risk of getting stuck or having their clothing, equipment or even a limb hooked on the door.
The good thing about wide doors is that they look more luxurious and make up for a great decor finish in your house.
10. Use Only Even and Smooth Flooring, No Texture
The floor in the rest of your house is just as important as the one in the bathroom. Look for beautiful flooring that has a minuscule grain in them. You don’t want a completely smooth floor because it can become slippery, but you also don’t want a heavily textured one because you could get stuck. Another thing to consider is smoothing out the transition between the bathroom flooring and the bedroom flooring, so there aren’t small bumps that could get in the way.
As you can see, building or adapting a home for disabled people is not that hard. Some disabled people have to adapt their whole place in order to have a bedroom on the lower level, fully equipped with a bathroom and dressing room. If you’re building your house from scratch or you’re house-hunting, you can save the trouble of placing wheelchair ramps by purchasing a one-story house.
These types of homes can look very elegant with the right decorative elements and sometimes they’re even more spacious than 2-story houses. There are plenty of other interior design solutions that will not only make your life easier, they’ll also make your house look spacious, chic, and elegant.