Kitchen offers many lighting levels

In our last post, we described some of the more common ways in which many Americans face daily physical difficulties. Now we’ll show you a few of the aspects of Universal Design that can make home living much easier for millions of people. Newport Cove’s LIFEhouse, located on our waterfront development on the Chain O’ Lakes and currently open for public viewing, contains dozens of features like these:- Multiple layers of light, especially in active areas like the kitchen. This means that, in addition to overhead lighting, there are lights under cabinets, shelves, etc., giving those with low vision better ability to see what they’re doing. The LIFEhouse has seven different kinds of lighting in its kitchen.

LIFEhouse kitchen and hearth room

– Another improvement on the visual aspect of a home, this time with regard to safety, is a combination of simple, common-sense improvements to stairways. Falling down the stairs is the most frequent household accident, and can be extremely dangerous. To help prevent falls, the undersides of stairway railings are equipped with small lights which are activated by motion sensors any time a person approaches. Additionally, the stair treads themselves are colored in two alternating tones, making it easier to distinguish each edge.

– What if going up or down stairs at all becomes difficult? The natural response for most people would be, “Install an elevator.” The LIFEhouse already has one.  But, elevators are expensive, and most houses aren’t built with the potential for such a major renovation in mind. Good planning solves that problem: When designing a home, stack closets on each floor directly above and below one another, so that a natural space for an elevator shaft already exists. Then, should the need arise, a system can be installed with little change to the structure of the building itself.
– Rather than installing traditional round doorknobs, levers are used instead, allowing those with muscle weakness, arthritis or a physically damaged hand to easily open doors.
– Wiring for audio systems that better distribute the sounds made by electronic equipment are built in for those with hearing difficulties.
Those are just a few of the ideas that go into Universal Design, turning a home into something that works with its owner. Visit the LIFEhouse at Newport Cove to see more. It is open noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays or by appointment. Call 847.726.2727.

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