A concept called Universal Design (UD) is gaining popularity in home remodeling. You hear the term – which was coined by the architect Ronald L. Mace – frequently already, and you’re likely to hear it even more over the next decade or two. But what exactly is Universal Design? The National Association of Home Builders puts it this way:
Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.
In relation to construction and renovation this means building or renovating a home using design features that make it fully-functional for everyone regardless of age, infirmity or disability. This allows the space to be occupied and accessed by everyone in the family, which becomes ever more important as our population ages and different generations find themselves living under the same roof.
The Principles Of Universal Design
Universal Design is more than just a feel-good phrase or a nebulous concept, though. A working group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers collaborated to establish the Principles of Universal Design which, according to North Carolina State University’s Center for Universal Design, include:
- Equitable use
- Flexibility in use
- Simple and intuitive
- Perceptible information
- Tolerance for error
- Low physical effort
- Size and space for approach and use
While each of these principles is explained in much greater detail at the NCSU website, the general point of UD is maximum usability/accessibility in all cases.
Universal Design Examples
Perhaps the best way to understand UD in relation to the home is to see some visual examples. There’s a great series of Houzz Ideabooks on UD, each of which includes beautiful illustrations of the concepts in UD. If you don’t have time to browse all of these, please consider checking out the following three as good examples:
- How to Light a Kitchen for Older Eyes and Better Beauty
- Universal Design Makes a Midcentury Home Accessible
- How to Design an Accessible Shower
Universal Design And Your Renovation
As you begin your own home remodeling project, consider the concepts of UD and how they might benefit your family, both now and in the future. This is especially meaningful if you intend to stay in your home for many years to come or if you foresee a time when an older parent or other family member may join you in your home. And when you’re ready to get started, we’re here to help with all of your remodeling and design needs.