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10 Tips to Make Your Home Accessible with Style

Guest Post By Vicki of Wheel Chic Home.

Whether you are born with a disability, become disabled later in life or you simply become less mobile as you age, there are many things to consider to make your home safe and functional to help you live a happy life. Combining an accessible home with beautiful decor can be tricky, as many disability aids are made of bulky plastic and immediately make you think of a hospital. Although these products are tested and durable, they serve as a constant reminder of your disability.

It is possible to combine style & mobility aids

Interior designers are missing out on some tricks when it comes to designing an accessible and beautiful home. So many people desire a lovely living space but need some additional mobility aids to help them, and they often seem like they live in a care home rather than their home.

There are a number of other options that are suitable for people with mobility problems that can enhance the aesthetics of the home while staying on trend with interior décor.

1: Check entryways to your home

Firstly, and probably most importantly, are the entryways to your home. If you have steps up to your front door, do you have grab rails in the right place? There are a number of different grab rails available in colors to match your front door or the color of your home. You can also find rails you like and spray paint them to match!

Photo Credit: Wheel Chic Home

Photo Credit: Wheel Chic Home

For handles located outdoors you will need a durable material like plastic or metal and ideally a grip (so if it’s wet outside, your hand won’t slip). Work with the professional installing your handles to make sure they’re in the right place and at the right height for you. Consider whether they need to be diagonal, horizontal or vertical. Each home and need is different, so be open to where you place them. Be bold!

You might also need a ramp for your doorstep. There are so many different options — the ramp can match your driveway or you can make a real statement and go with painted wood. The main thing to be aware of? Make sure the professional that builds your ramp complies with local laws on maximum gradient and size.

2: Choose the perfect rug

Photo Credit: Wheel Chic Home

Photo Credit: Wheel Chic Home

Rugs are tricky to buy when you have a mobility issue. Some are too plush, some aren’t heavy enough and some just won’t work with a wheelchair. It’s a real minefield! Deep pile rugs or shaggy rugs, which are very popular at the moment, are extremely difficult to walk or wheel over. The rubber wheels on a wheelchair and even the rubber tips on ends of crutches, frames or walking sticks can get a bit tangled in the shagginess. So, for many with disabilities, shaggy rugs are out.

Kilim or flat woven rugs are lovely colorful and on-trend options but they’re very light and your feet can get caught under them as they lift easily. These rugs are good for wheelchair use though, as they are very flat. Low pile, artificial thread rugs are a great option; they don’t shed fibres like wool and they’re relatively flat to wheel or walk over.

When putting a rug over a wooden, tiled or laminate floor, always make sure you prevent the rug from slipping by using one of the non-slip underlays you can purchase.

3: Be inventive with seating

For some types of disability aids, you can find cool alternatives to give your home some style. For example, some people with mobility issues need to use a stool or seat in the kitchen when preparing or eating food. You can look at conventional stools, but make sure they’re the right height and weight so they don’t tip. You can also look for saddle seats on wheels, or even a tractor seat!

Think about the style you’re looking for in your home, and be unconventional! Use spray paint or furniture paint to help blend the colors with your décor – or be bold and let it stand out!

4: Look for a sturdy dining table

Seems fairly easy, doesn’t it? However, many tables with bases aren’t accessible; the industrial style tables with steel U shaped bases just don’t allow a wheelchair user sitting on the end to get close enough to the table… the footplate of the chair hits the base. Circular tables with a central base also don’t let you get close enough for dinner, so the best option is a table with four sturdy legs. Simple!

Look for a classic, sturdy design, avoiding glass tops in case of any trips, falls or knocks. Don’t buy online, you need to try these tables in the shop with your chair to see if you can get under the table. Be sure to look at the height and check that the table is sturdy and hardwearing.

Natural materials like wood or marble are always on trend, and fit into many themes like industrial, shabby chic or modern, so you can’t go wrong with a natural texture and sturdy legs. You can dress it up for entertaining guests or sit and drink your coffee and read the newspapers on a slow Sunday morning.

5:  Look for grab rails that don’t “look like grab rails”

Grab rails and handles are really important in an accessible home – but some of them are really ugly and scream out to you and your guests that it’s a grab rail.

Photo Credit: Wheel Chic Home

Photo Credit: Wheel Chic Home

Look for something that’s invisible – this toilet roll holder is a great example of what you can get that doesn’t look like a grab rail. You can buy it in chrome, black, brass, gold, so you’re sure to find something that meets your needs. I promise your guests will never know that this is a grab rail!

You can also buy wooden grab rails (you could spray paint them!), chrome, black or white. You can buy square edges, round edges, towel rails, shower shelves, or shower rails that all double as grab rails. They’re invisible to everyone else but you — why have something that screams GRAB RAIL when you can make it fit in with your taste?

6: Be creative in the kitchen

There are so many great options for the kitchen that help support those with a disability. When you’re researching, look for ‘accessible’ or ‘inclusive’ kitchens. Many of the designs offer work surfaces that you can raise or lower at the touch of a button. You can find kitchen designs in any color or style, and have your items adjusted to suit your needs.

Look for upper cabinets that have pull down shelves so you can reach items from a wheelchair, dual height islands that you can reach from a chair and from standing so everyone in the family can use it. You can have additional work tops that slide out so they’re wheelchair accessible. You can also get low level microwaves, sink units that raise and lower and high level plug sockets.

There are so many options — you can customize your space and have something totally unique. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ideas and colors; just because you have a disability you don’t have to be boring! Be bold with tiles, work tops, and door colors!

7: Try different storage options for disability aids

Photo Credit: Wheel Chic Home

Photo Credit: Wheel Chic Home

We all know that crutches and walking sticks aren’t pretty (although you can get really interesting designs for your own tastes!) but they always fall over and they can scratch the walls. Use wall hooks or umbrella stands to hold them.

Again, there are so many options to fit in with any type of interiors. Go rustic, industrial, shabby chic, modern, minimalist. There are no limits!

8:  Find the perfect sofa

The sofa is a really tricky piece of furniture to buy. It’s large, it’s expensive and it dominates the room. Still, it’s an important piece of furniture. When you can’t move your legs, walk independently, or have limited strength in your upper body, you need a sofa with a level of firmness to help support you get up. If the sofa cushion is too low and too deep, and you don’t have the strength to pull your body off the sofa, it becomes a real issue.

One really important thing to consider is the height of the arms on the sofa.  If you can’t get to your feet without holding onto something, you need a fairly high, strong sofa arm to steady yourself.

Many sofa companies will customize your orders for an additional fee so you’ll be able to raise or lower the leg height, have arms the height you want and have the number of sections in a corner or sectional sofa. You don’t have to buy online, either! Go into the shop, spend time getting on and off the sofas and in and out of your wheelchair if you use one. You need to be comfortable sitting in the sofa and safe and happy getting on the soda as well as out of it.

Additionally, make sure you have the space to get to the sofa in your wheelchair, and space to park your chair when you’re not in it.

9: Do your research and plan ahead

Don’t accept the first thing that comes up on the internet — search different options,such as ‘accessible’, ‘inclusive’ and ‘adapted’. Think differently, do you know anyone that can make or adapt furniture? Do you know of any local businesses that can help build a table or adapt your kitchen?

Search Pinterest for ideas, there’s a wealth of information out there on accessible kitchens, bathrooms, ramps and other gadgets. Create some boards for your different projects and get lots of ideas.

Look for blogs that specialize in interiors, and also those that look at interiors designed for disabilities. If you’re a fan of interiors you will find beautiful homes in these blogs that you can replicate for your own needs.

Think about future proofing your home. Your design might work for now, but will it work for your future needs? If you don’t need a wheelchair now, will you need one in a few years? If so, look to make the adaptations now and it’ll give you a lovely home for years.

10: Be bold, creative and don’t limit your options!

Some disability aids are big, bulky, white pieces of tough plastic and they have to be to serve their purpose, but you can find a creative way to replace some of these with beautiful alternatives. For the things that can’t be replaced, how can you alter them, or decorate them?

For the things that can’t replaced such as hoists, bath boards or oxygen canisters – how can you alter or decorate them? You can find ways to reupholster things, spray paint them or cover them with a fabulous and funky fabric that hides them and throws out a little splash of color.

The only limit is your imagination!

Remember – your home should be safe and suitable for your individual mobility needs and all work should be carried out by professionals.

 

About Wheel Chic Home

Wheel Chic Home is an award nominated UK based interiors blog with a focus on Fabulous Disabled Friendly interiors www.wheelchichome.com.

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