Design for Ease and Convenience
If you're planning a redesign or remodel, don't overlook changes that will increase functionality throughout the house. Even if you don't have any major remodeling projects in mind, these simple additions or alterations can pay big dividends by making daily chores much easier. And, if you do decide to sell later, they will add to the value of your home.
- Change doorknobs to lever-style handles and swap out knobs for handles on kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
- Add motion-sensitive light switches that will turn on a hall light or entry lamp without someone having to stumble around in dark spaces to find the switch. It's an easy and quick swap.
- Replace traditional toggle light switches with rocker switches (preferably those with built-in dimmer devices), light sensors or voice-activated switches. These devices not only make it easier to control lighting when hands are full or wet, they also encourage more efficient use of lighting and help reduce utility costs.
- Ensure that rooms and work areas have proper and adequate lighting. Normal changes in vision that occur over time require more light to maintain visual acuity. Increase bulb wattage in lamps and fixtures, but first make sure they will safely accommodate the additional wattage. If not, consider replacing them with others that will. Position lighting to illuminate the parts of the room that will be used for reading or other activities. Use light colors around work areas, such as sinks in kitchens and bathrooms, and place additional light over the most used work spaces, directed to avoid creating shadows.
- Putting items within easier reach is one of the simplest ways to make your home more functional. Install slide out shelves in kitchen cabinets and pantries to improve access and increase storage. Reduce the need to overstretch or fumble with heavy or awkward boxes by using organizers or secured racks that place items near at hand in bedroom, coat and storage closets. And make sure closets are adequately lit.
- If a kitchen makeover is in your plans, take advantage of the many convenience products available. When replacing appliances, consider those that require less reaching and bending. Some refrigerator models come with the freezer on the side or the bottom, rather than the top, which makes it easier to handle heavy frozen items. Several manufacturers make refrigerators, freezers and dishwashers that slide out like drawers, making loading and unloading much easier. Instead of situating a microwave oven over a stove top, place it on a nearby counter or mount it under a cabinet. If you are planning to remodel or replace cabinets, elevate the dishwasher 12” above the floor and make sure upper cabinets are no higher than 48” from the floor. Pull out and adjustable counters and work spaces provide greater flexibility for different types of cooking tasks and can better accommodate helpers of various ages.
- In the bathroom, replace an enclosed vanity with countertops or a pedestal sink to enhance leg room. If you currently have a bathtub/shower combination but rarely use the tub, consider installing a walk-in shower with better nozzle and temperature controls instead. Grab bars are a must for safety and convenience, and they come in a variety of fashionable styles and colors. New countertop and flooring products can add color and drama, with the added advantage of easy maintenance.
A qualified interior designer can help you with these and many other improvements that will make your home more comfortable and functional. To find out how to locate a qualified interior designer in your community, check out ASID's free Designer Referral Service.