Building and Remodeling with Everyone in Mind
Universal Design – you’ve most likely heard of it before – but what exactly does it mean? To design is to make choices. By definition, Universal Design is choosing to make products and environments that are usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible. Our lives are affected by products designed this way every day. Universal design strives to improve the original design concept by making it more inclusive. Think of recent changes in kitchen utensils that make them easier and more comfortable to hold and operate, digital thermometers that have easy to read displays or faucets activated by touch or motion sensors. These are all examples of applying the principals of Universal Design.
In the remodeling industry, we think of Universal Design as design with everyone in mind. We are creating a functional, beautiful space for people of all ages and abilities. This can be especially helpful for older or disabled family members, but also helps kids or anyone who may experience temporary diminished physical abilities. These principals have mostly been applied in the kitchen and bathroom in the past, but are now trending in every room of the home.
Do I Need Universal Design?
You may not need it today, but we all know life happens fast. Universal design goes beyond accessibility to provide striking design aesthetics, including more open space and great lighting. If you are thinking of renovating, ask yourself a couple of questions:
- Will we staying in this home for more than 3 years?
- Is there any possibility of disabled or elderly family members visiting or coming to stay with me?
If you answered yes to either question, consider integrating design with everyone in mind into your next project.
Taking the Next Step
When giving advice about a renovation, at Hire it Done, we talk about the contractors – and they are very important! We should also talk about designers and the different ways they specialize in remodeling – some run independent businesses, some work for building groups or remodeling companies, some specialize in textiles and color selections, and on and on. The expertise of a designer is ALWAYS a good idea on a big renovation, especially a kitchen or a bath. A word to the wise though – being able to produce a line drawing of cabinet layout is not the same as designing a functional space for a family. How can you identify if a designer is right for your project and your budget?
- Ask your contractor if they have a designer on staff
- Make sure the designer has experience with Universal Design, and is certified by a professional organization. There are several such certifications: CAPS and UDCP are the most common
- Ask to see examples of their projects where universal design was used
Once you have selected the designer, a home visit is vital before an estimate and design can be finalized. This is the time to talk with the designer about budget, how you want the space to function and any special needs or wants you currently have or anticipate having. They can then put together a plan designed with you in mind..
We asked Barb Baker, who is CAPS certified, and President and CEO of Transitions Remodeling, a Hire it Done approved contractor, for a few pointers on what to look for in a designer, and what trends she is seeing in universal design.
- Make sure you like your designers personality – you will be working closely with them during stressful time periods, that can often last several weeks or months.
- Don’t be afraid to tell them your most grand ideas, even if they are beyond your budget – your designer may be able to help you get the same feel or function without going over budget.
So many great things are happening in the remodeling industry right now! New hardware is giving kitchen and bath cabinets a wide variety of flexible functions, scuff proof paint and slip resistant floors in attractive finishes are available, and gorgeous designs for items like grab bars and railings make it easy to create spaces that are accommodating and stunning at the same time.
Planning Your Project
The planning stages of a major remodel can take weeks. Smart homeowners start talking to the professionals 3-6 months ahead of time. This will allow time to explore options, change your mind and make sure all of your selections are available.
The professionals at Transitions Remodeling can guide you through the process from start to finish, and would be happy to give a free in-home consultation. If you are not sure about your project yet, but would like some ideas, we highly recommend visiting their showroom in Farmington Hills. There you will see all the latest trends in universal design on display, a huge selection of cabintery, and a friendly, no pressure staff ready to answer all of your questions. Transitions Remodeling has award winning designers, industry leading expertise and many years of experience remodeling AND they are offering a great special from now until the end of the year!
Visit hireitdone.com to take advantage of Transitions Remodeling special 10% discount just for the Hire it Done audience. Some restrictions apply. This may be just the thing to get that remodel on the calendar for 2018!