What is Universal Design and Why is it Important to You?

What is Universal Design and Why is it Important to You?

You may have heard the term “Universal Design” and thought “Oh!  This isn’t for me.  It’s for disabled or old people.”  As a professional Interior Designer in Bergen County NJ, I practice universal design in all of my projects.

This is why it is important to you.

#1. What is Universal Design?

It means that all of the decisions you make in designing a space take into account all people: tall, short, older, younger, those who have joint problems, those who don’t, kids, pets and those with disabilities now or in the future.  In other words, we never know what will happen to us.

By making choices that make tasks easy for everyone to access, everyone benefits regardless.  That is a great goal.

#2. Why is it important to you?

Let me tell you a story. One day at a concert, my heel slipped off the back of my shoe and I went down.  I ended up with a cast from my toes to my knee and the proviso “do not get the cast wet for six weeks”.  It was resin not plaster so I thought it wasn’t a big deal…until it got wet a bit.  Boy, does it smell!

Luckily, when I had remodeled my bathroom I put in a grab bar, bench and a hand-held shower.  I was able to bag up my leg and use a gentle spray so water did not drip into the bag.  Six weeks is a long time!  I was around 30 years old at the time.

Here’s another story. I had a client with two children and she called to say she was pregnant with a third.  How wonderful!  We were redoing her kitchen.  I suggested she might want to put in a new type of faucet that was touch type for water to go on and off.  We did and she called me about a year ago and said thanked me for suggesting this to her.  It was the best thing she ever did!  With two kids on the floor and one on her hip she could just tap and on and off the water went!


Today, I could have given her an even better faucet. With new advances, all you need to do is pass your hand over the faucet to get it to turn on and off!

What will they think of next?

#3.  What are the benefits?

Baby boomers who would like to stay in their homes as long as they can, might get insulted because they don’t want to be perceived as old or needing special help. They should take advantage now and live safer lives.

Younger people often think these features are for old people not considering unexpected accidents or just even convenience benefits.  Bathing the dog is so much easier with a hand-held spray!

In Bergen County, NJ and surrounding areas, renovation and remodeling of kitchens and baths is sizzling hot!  It’s a great time to add these ideas into your projects.

Universal Design concepts are for safety, accessibility, flexibility and ease of use for all. It’s not a downer to consider that at some point down the road you may need these things and how great it is that you have them now!  It’s why I steer my clients to making the universal design choices.  Sometimes they aren’t even aware of it!

How can you improve your home now with Universal Design?