The home should be easy to use for every member of the family. That’s the basic principle behind Universal Design. Indeed, products that promote accessibility have evolved through the years that make aging in place possible, make multi-generational homes efficient to use for every family member and enable the physically challenged to move about with as few barriers as possible. These products and ideas can be used throughout the home, but a great deal of them seem to fall into the kitchen and bath.
For the kitchen, they run the gamut from multiple-height countertops to cabinets and interior accessories that pull down or out to the user, from anti-scald faucets to French-door ovens, from raised-height dishwashers to dishdrawers, microwave drawers and refrigerator and freezer drawers.
In the bath, they range from decorative grab bars to walk-in, curbless showers replete with steam and massaging shower jets, from airbaths and whirlpools replete with hydrotherapy, chromatherapy and aromatherapy to ergonomic soaking tubs, and from taller vanities to sensor faucets.
Clearly, a product that promotes, facilitates and exemplifies Universal Design and its principles doesn’t have to be sterile, or be reminiscent of a hospital or nursing home setting. Rather, these products just have to be accessible to everyone who uses them, and benefit everyone who uses them in one way or another.
Manufacturers in the kitchen and bath industry have certainly run with this idea in recent years, creating products that are not only accessible, but as stylish and upscale as they are safe. They particularly appeal to the Baby Boomers who are fast approaching their golden years, and to other demographic groups who often now have both elderly parents and young children to care for in the same home.
Kitchen and bath designers have also noticed this need for Universally Designed products and accessible design. In fact, at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show this year in Chicago, one focus of the educational program was Universal Design.
In one presentation, “Unlimited by Design: Kitchens and Bathrooms,” Drue Lawlor, FASID, NCIDQ, urged designers to understand the challenges and requirements that clients face as they age, and understand that their abilities may gradually diminish over time.
“With the aging of the Baby Boomers, there is a greater awareness of the need for residential spaces to adapt to changing needs. Universal Design is becoming a topic many designers are helping clients incorporate into their living environments. This challenge is particularly evident in the design of kitchens and baths,” says Lawlor, a Universal Design instructor, one of the principals of CLP Interiors in Pasadena, CA, and a co-principal of the Dallas, TX-based education-works, inc./education-works.com.
Mary H. Yearns, Ph.D., professor and extension housing specialist at Iowa State University, gave a HERA Academic Research presentation entitled, “Quick Change Cabinets: A Universal Alternative to ADA Requirements.” She talked about the development of cabinet prototypes for a Universal Design kitchen that can accommodate a wide variety of users. A modular approach is used, allowing cabinet components to be quickly changed with the use of a few simple tools.
Yearns says that “instead of installing accessible cabinets in the ‘handicapped’ units and ‘standard’ cabinets in the rest, the same modular cabinets could be installed in all units and easily changed, as needed, when new residents of various sizes and abilities come and go.” She worked with Pat Patterson at the university on the one-year study – The Universal Design Kitchen Project – that was the basis for her presentation. The resulting modular cabinets (“Kwik-Change Kabinets”) were designed by a research team at Iowa State University with funding from the U.S. Administration on Aging.
Here and on the next three pages Kitchen & Bath Design News showcases a sampling of the wide scope of accessible products available in the kitchen and bath market today.
1. Automated Cabinet Systems, Inc. offers a system that enables users to
pull down an entire cabinet to their level. The system pulls the cabinet out from
the wall and down toward the countertop below, allowing for greater accessiblity
for all users.
Indicate #245 on e-Inquiry
2. The Walk-In Tub from Meditub was created for individuals with mobility challenges. It features a specially designed “flex-a-door” that eliminates the problem of in-swinging doors that can hit someone’s leg, or out-swinging doors that can be difficult for a user to reach, the company notes. The tub also features a seat with options such as hydrotherapy jets.
Indicate #246 on e-Inquiry
3. Home Care by Moen from Creative Specialties International offers a host of bath safety products, including the Tub & Shower Chair. It is made of a non-slip surface with heavy anodized legs that make it well suited for bath use when safety is a concern, the company notes. The seat is adjustable from 14" to 21".
Indicate #247 on e-Inquiry
4. Foot Flush International’s Footflush offers hands-free flushing in the bath, making it well suited for seniors, those with limited mobility or disabilities, those with back problems and those concerned with avoiding germs, the company notes. The product hooks up to existing toilets in less than two minutes with no tools, the company further notes.
Indicate #248 on e-Inquiry
5. The Swash 800 from Brondell, Inc. offers all the hygienic benefits of a traditional bidet, along with a larger seating area and “endless” warm water washes, the company says. It can be installed on 98% of existing residential toilets, the company adds, and offers a dual-wand instant heating system, low profile, compact design and programmable power save function to reduce energy consumption.
Indicate #249 on e-Inquiry
6. Kohler’s Universal Bath Design, created by designer/author Cynthia Leibrock and architect Mary Beth Rampolla, is designed to address universal accessibility, while utilizing easy-clean, slip-resistant materials. Under counter cabinets are freestanding, completely removable units, while the shower can be used from a shower wheelchair or by a standing user. The Universal Bath Design also features an elongated toilet to ease wheelchair transfers, and a bathtub with a slip-resistant, flat bottom to improve user stability, the company notes.
Indicate #250 on e-Inquiry
7. VitrA USA’s V3 Technology (Vortex, Velocity and Vacuum) is available in VitrA’s contemporary toilet designs, including the two-piece Corina, which meets ADA guidelines, with a seat that sits 17" from a finished floor, as well as the Mona, Serenada and Riva models.
Indicate #251 on e-Inquiry
8. The new walk-in acrylic bathtub from Luxury Bath Systems is approved by the U.S. government as a medical device, and is designed as a replacement for a standard tub. A locking door makes it easy for any mobility-impaired or physically challenged person to safely enter the bath enclosure, the company notes. The tub has been tested and certified by the National Association of Home Builders, the company adds.
Indicate #252 on e-Inquiry
9, Featuring a stainless steel exterior, the Drop-Down Door Microwave from Electrolux has a pull-down door designed for easy opening and increased placement options, notes the company. Automatic settings include 40 cooking selections and pre-programmed recipes.
Indicate #253 on e-Inquiry
10. Rev-A-Shelf offers the Vineyard Shelf Kit, part of Vineyard Series/Artisan Collection of interior cabinet accessories/fittings. With the kit, custom pull-out shelves can be created within the cabinet by adding slides and a wood platform. The kit also includes pre-cut vineyard pieces for a more custom look.
Indicate #254 on e-Inquiry
11. The Pascal Culinary Faucet with Smart Technology from Brizo combines hands-free and touch-control technology, the company notes. As a result, water flow can be activated by either tapping almost anywhere on the faucet, or by using the hands-free option. The high-arc pull-down spout also automatically activates and deactivates water flow. Water temperature and flow are set by the faucet’s single-handle manual valve. A two-function aerated spray mode switches from spray to stream with the touch of a button. The Pascal is offered in chrome and Brilliance stainless.
Indicate #255 on e-Inquiry
12. The Acrylic Walk-in Safety Tubs from Safety Tubs LLC feature a walk-in tub door, a low entry, a 17" chair-height seat, a built-in handrail and a slip-resistant tub floor. Fingertip electronic touch controls allow for easy adjustment of water flow, temperature and jet options, according to the company. Whirlpool and tub options include: soaking tub, Hydro Massage Jet System, Air Bubble System, Dual Massage System and In-Line Water Heater.
Indicate #256 on e-Inquiry
13. The Tub Cut from Access Designs provides easier access for existing tubs by creating a step-through in the front of the tub. This allows bathtubs to be made more accessible to users, despite mobility challenges.
Indicate #257 on e-Inquiry
14. The Purité Personal Cleansing Spa from Bemis Mfg. Co. is a toilet seat that features a personal hygiene system. Purité is outfitted with two automatic cleansing wands; one wand extends forward for feminine cleansing, the other for perirectal wash. Cleansing is activated by a touchpad control panel located on the side of the seat. Dual nozzles dispense warm water at one of three selected temperatures and five pressure settings. The retractable nozzles are self-cleaning and flush automatically before and after each use. Each wash setting is followed with a warm-air jet dryer.
Indicate #258 on e-Inquiry
15. Jaclo Industries has added decorative grab bars to its extensive line of decorative specialties. They’re available in 14 distinctive finishes.
Indicate #259 on e-Inquiry
16. Decorative grab bars from Ginger range in style from Art Deco to contemporary. They’re made from solid forged brass and 1.5"-diameter, heavy-gauge brass tubing. Eight different lengths are available.
Indicate #260 on e-Inquiry
17. RK International, Inc. offers a full line of grab bars for the bath. The bars are available in sizes ranging from 12" to 42". Styles include Rope, Beaded, Plain, Pewter and Step-Up, and finishes include Antique English, Chrome, Distressed Nickel, Oil-Rubbed Bronze, Pewter and Polished Brass.
Indicate #261 on e-Inquiry
18. Technical Concepts’ Radius Touch-Free Technology is available in the firm's faucets, soap and lotion dispensers and toilets. The automated soap and lotion dispensers detect the user's hand and then provide metered doses that reduce usage and save money, according to the company.
Indicate #262 on e-Inquiry
19. California Faucets features a wide selection of decorative grab bars – including La Jolla, Solana, Venice, Malibu and Tiburon. The grab bars are available in more than 35 finishes, including 10 PVD finishes, according to the company.
Indicate #263 on e-Inquiry
20. The KWC Canyon faucet from KWC America is a bath faucet that features a geometric, angular design that provides a stream of illuminated water. Designed by former Mercedes-Benz car designer Bruno Sacco, KWC Canyon features electronic sensors and an open water flow that is illuminated by an LED light band that reads from blue to red depending on water temperature to help prevent against scalding. The electronic touch pad controls on/off on the right side and temperature on the left. A concealed mixing valve provides a waterfall effect, the company reports.
Indicate #264 on e-Inquiry