Family Home Gets ADA-Compatible Update

Family Home Gets ADA-Compatible Update

By Anita Shaw

To do that, knowing the customer is essential and something that drives designer Anthony Michael of Michael & Associates, Inc., located here. The designer takes his time getting to know each of his customers, developing an understanding of their tastes and lifestyles before embarking on their kitchen or bath design project. 

For one particular renovation, however, Michael was already keenly familiar with the client. He took on the somewhat unusual task of working for his mother to recreate the family home.

The house, which was built in the early 1990s, was in need of a remodel and retrofit to accommodate his mother's special physical needs, brought about after she suffered a stroke. "Basically, everything needed to be ADA-approved and needed to afford wheelchair access, as well as provide space for live-in caretakers," Michael notes.

All of this needed to be achieved without losing the aesthetic values that Michael's mother was used to. Though the upscale two-story home had become unwieldy for the client following the illness, her interest in remaining there motivated him to make major changes to meet the various challenges put forth.

"My mother's dream was to live out her days in the family home," says Michael. "It was important to maintain the proportions she was accustomed to in this new home."

In its previous incarnation, the home had 2,800 sq. ft. of livable space. Modifications to an empty loft area made a space for a caregiver, while the renovation of a lower level into a fully-equipped apartment created a home for Michael's aunt, who anticipates the possibility of living there at some point in time. With these modifications, the home is now nearly 4,000 sq. ft. 

An open floorplan and 18' ceilings give the home an upscale, airy feeling, as do the high-end finishes, updated furnishings and panel moldings. With regard to color, everything was neutral to allow for easy cleaning and timeless, utilitarian design. The eclectic decor is a mix of traditional, Louis the XVI, contemporary, Asian and updated French neo-classical. 

Carpet and tile were replaced with over 18,000 pounds of stone throughout the home, allowing for easier wheelchair maneuverability. In addition, each room is now barrier-free, and enlarged hallways, widened door openings and height-adjusted, lever-style door handles make access throughout the home a non-issue. A first alert system was also installed, providing the client with access to help in an emergency through the touch of a button.

The kitchen is also a touch-controlled area, using no knobs that might make access more difficult. It is a typical work triangle and an enlarged galley concept, measuring 10'x12' in the main room, with an eat-in area of 12'6"x8'6".

"The allows for easy movement, as well as accessibility of appliances from a wheelchair," offers Michael.
Maple cabinets with a clear finish from the Signature Kitchens Collection from Corsi were utilized, topped with Giallo Vineziano granite countertops. An undermount sink from Franke is featured, along with a Franke faucet in brushed nickel to complement the look.

The floor, which is a honed, Turkish limestone, blends with the countertop and the surrounding decor. It is low impact and non-skid for better maneuverability.

Stainless steel appliances include a Sub-Zero refrigerator, Miele dishwasher, Miele cooktop and Thermador oven. A GE Spacesaver microwave oven was also incorporated into the design, as was a KitchenAid garbage disposal. 

Providing for the special needs of the client, Michael chose features for these appliances that would be of specific benefit for her. The Sub-Zero refrigerator features a sounding alarm should the door be left ajar, while the Miele cooktop comes with a one-touch pad.

The natural lighting in the room is controlled by plantation shutters with one-vein control. The added lighting, from Lightolier, consists of a combination of diffused/halogen and incandescent. "A soffet with up-lighting frames the kitchen, allowing it to 'float' in the open plan of the home," he adds.

Michael continues the traditional yet contemporary theme in the master bedroom/bathroom suite. The style is French 1930s, with panel moldings and inset mirrors, and use of marble. Soft putty tones trimmed in white give the space an elegant, high-end atmosphere. 

Behind the decor of the space, the design is completely barrier-free and wheelchair accessible. Vanilla Onachiatta acid-etched flooring provides a slip-resistant surface. The lighting, from Boyd, as well as outlets and switches, were relocated to conform to the standards of the American With Disabilities Act.

The bathroom itself features a walk-in, curbless, barrier-free shower with marble, designed at an angle to help with proper drainage. Stainless steel grab bars from Kohler and a Moen hand-held body spray are a part of the frameless shower. 

The challenges of the master bath design went beyond functionality, however. "Finding attractive fixtures that would be accessible to my mother, but didn't look institutional, was difficult," stresses Michael. "There just isn't much available in this market niche."

He finally chose a wheelchair-height toilet from Kohler in Biscuit for easy access. The Caxton sink, also in Biscuit, features lever-style faucets from Moen in polished chrome and platinum.

While aesthetically, the redesign was all about updating and modernizing, Michael was left to use some unconventional products. "There were no built-ins or granite," he comments. "All of the things that are typical in today's kitchens and baths were missing."

project highlights

  •  Designer Anthony Michael made his mother's family home ADA-compliant after she suffered a stroke and became wheelchair bound.
  • The designer worked inventively with the interior while respecting its original design.
  • The two-story home was remodeled to include living space for the caregiver, as well as a fully functional apartment for the owner's sister.
  • An open floorplan and cathedral ceilings give the home an upscale, spacious feeling, enhanced by the easy-to-clean, neutral decor that is traditional with a contemporary edge.
  •  Maple cabinets blend with stainless steel appliances in this contemporary-styled kitchen. Granite countertops blend with the Turkish limestone floors.
  • A walk-in, curbless, barrier-free shower with stainless steel grab bars and hand-held body spray is featured in the master bathroom. The toilet is wheelchair height, and the sink features lever-style faucets.
  • Kitchen products include: Corsi maple cabinets from the Signature Kitchens Collection; Giallo Vineziano granite countertops; Franke undermount sink and faucet; Turkish limestone floor; a SubZero refrigerator with sounding alarm; Miele dishwasher; Thermador oven; Miele cooktop with one-touch pad; GE Spacesaver microwave oven; KitchenAid garbage disposal; lighting from Lightolier. Bathroom products include: Caxton sink; wheelchair-height toilet from Kohler; Moen lever-style faucets; Kohler stainless steel grab bars; Moen hand-held body spray; Boyd lighting.