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Beautifully Functional Homes

April 29, 2015

By Julie Adamson, Architectural Designer and Certified Aging in Place Specialist

Your home can be as beautiful as it is functional.

As a designer and Certified Aging in Place Specialist, I prepare your home for all life stages using Universal Design.  

Universal Design is a way of designing a home to function for any age, size or ability. The goal of Universal Design is to create changes or repairs to make your home safe, comfortable and user-friendly. Implementing these modifications will produce a home that you can remain in as you age.

Universal Design is not only for aging in place, wider doorways make it easier to carry children or laundry baskets through and a no-step entrance into the home means no tripping when bringing in groceries. Universal Design features help your home fit your lifestyle. 

Here are 10 possible design solutions for your home renovation, DIY project, or to take to your design/building skills to the next level to make your home more functional for all stages of your life:

  1. The path from the curb to the front door should be step-free and  at a 1:20 slope for easy negotiation. Clever design can create a functional and beautiful path way. 

  2. The floor inside the home should be non-slip, glare-free and easy maintenance for safety and ease of use for family and visitors. 

  3. Install several heights of counter spaces in your kitchen for users of all ages to allow for standing or sitting while fulfilling tasks. 

  4. Single lever, pullout faucets are easy for adults, children and those with arthritis to use. Make sure there is an anti-scald device installed. 

  5. Consider installing fridge drawers in food prep areas if limited mobility is a consideration.

  6. The shower should have a seat so that it can be used for washing your feet safely, shaving your legs or showering from a seated position if a family member is ill or injured.

  7. Use rounded corners on furniture and fixtures to ensure safety for children and adults. 

  8. Curtains should not be longer than floor length to help prevent tripping.

  9. For the safest and most comfortable bed height you should be able to sit on the side of the bed with both feet flat on the floor. 

  10. Make sure the path is clear from the bed to the bathroom or children’s room for nighttime use to reduce the chance of tripping.

Julie Adamson is an architectural designer with a passion to help people live in their homes through all life’s ages and stages. After many years of working with clients to realize their dream home, she has turned her experience into a pro-active business to help elders age-at-home and new homeowners prepare for the future with smart design decisions. She believes you should design smart and build once. For more information on services offered by Julie Adamson, visit

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