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How to Remodel for Accessibility: Designing a Universal and Barrier-Free Home

An updated bathroom with accessibility features.

Are you among the millions of Americans who face mobility challenges or care for a loved one who does? People aged 65 years and older will make up 23% of the population by 2054, reports Pew Research.

Aging often brings changes in mobility, flexibility, and balance, making it more challenging for people to navigate traditional home environments safely and comfortably. As a large portion of the population ages, the demand for barrier-free homes that accommodate age-related mobility challenges will rise significantly.

Is your home ready?

Even if you’re not currently facing mobility challenges yourself, it’s wise to think about the future when planning a home remodel. As we age, our needs and abilities evolve, and investing in accessibility now can help future-proof your home. It helps ensure your home is functional and comfortable — no matter your age.

Accessibility Matters

Accessibility means more than just ramps and grab bars — it’s about creating a home environment that promotes independence, safety, and dignity for everyone. Maybe you’re living with a mobility impairment, or you’re aging in place, or you often have guests with diverse needs. Either way, an accessible home ensures that everyone can navigate and use the space comfortably and confidently.

By prioritizing accessibility in your remodel, you can:

Promote Independence

An accessible home empowers individuals with disabilities or mobility challenges to live independently and perform daily tasks with ease. From barrier-free entrances to wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, accessible design features remove obstacles and facilitate freedom of movement throughout the home.

Enhance Safety

Accessibility features such as handrails, non-slip flooring, and well-lit pathways reduce the risk of slips, trips, and falls, especially for older adults and individuals with mobility limitations. By creating a safe and secure environment, you can minimize accidents and injuries and provide peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.

Foster Inclusivity

Accessibility isn’t just about accommodating disabilities – it’s about creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone. Whether it’s a family member with limited mobility, a guest with temporary injuries, or a parent with a stroller, an accessible home ensures that everyone feels welcome and valued, regardless of their abilities.

Why Create a Barrier-Free Home?

If you’re considering a home remodel, accessibility should be a top priority for several reasons. Eliminating accessibility barriers can:

  • Future-proof your home: Do you consider your home a forever home? Incorporating accessibility features into your remodel will keep your home functional and comfortable as your needs evolve over time. Whether it’s aging in place, recovering from an injury, or accommodating guests with disabilities, an accessible home adapts to your changing lifestyle and mobility requirements.
  • Increase property value: Accessible homes are in high demand among today’s homebuyers, who value comfort, convenience, and inclusivity. By incorporating accessible design principles into your remodel, you can increase the resale value of your home and attract a broader range of potential buyers when it’s time to sell.
  • Improve quality of life: An accessible home isn’t just about meeting minimum standards – it’s about enhancing your quality of life and enjoyment of your living space. By removing physical barriers and optimizing usability, you can create a home that feels spacious, comfortable, and inviting for everyone who lives and visits there.

Practical Tips for Designing an Accessible Home

Ready to make your home more accessible? Here are some practical ideas to consider during your remodel:

  • Widen doorways and hallways: Ensure that doorways and hallways are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and mobility aids, with a minimum width of 36 inches for main thoroughfares and 32 inches for interior doors.
  • Install accessible ramps and lifts: If your home has stairs or uneven entrances, consider installing ramps or lifts to provide barrier-free access for individuals with mobility limitations. Ensure that ramps have a gradual slope and non-slip surfaces for safety.
  • Create stepless entries: Eliminate steps and thresholds wherever possible to create seamless transitions between rooms and outdoor spaces. Use zero-threshold showers, curbless entries, and flush transitions to create a smooth and accessible flow throughout the home.
  • Design accessible bathrooms: Install grab bars, adjustable-height showerheads, and hand-held shower sprays in bathrooms to enhance safety and accessibility. Consider installing roll-in showers, shower benches, and accessible sinks with knee clearance for wheelchair users.
  • Choose slip-resistant flooring: Select flooring materials that offer traction and stability, such as non-slip tiles, low-pile carpeting, or textured vinyl. Avoid glossy or slippery surfaces that pose a hazard, especially in high-traffic areas and wet zones like bathrooms and kitchens.

By incorporating these accessibility features into your home remodel, you can create a space that’s comfortable, safe, and inclusive for everyone. Every design decision you make can have a huge impact on the safety and usability of your home. Start planning your accessible remodel today and create a home that welcomes everyone with open arms.

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