Universal Design

Why we consider universal design in every project

Tova Greenberg, co-owner of steveworks, is our designer, space planner, and business manager. She works with clients to optimize their designs and select their products and finishes. When she designs a renovation, she keeps universal design (UD) principles in mind to ensure homeowners and visitors of all abilities can enjoy the space: aging family members, those with temporary or permanent disabilities, families with baby strollers, and more.

Sloping walkway allows for easy access to the front door with one tiny step at the entry.

Tova became a NARI Universal Design Certified Professional in 2016 and is now a PRO Universal Designer. While universal design is a broad term that incorporates everything from ADA accessibility standards to slightly wider hallways, it starts with the understanding that everybody’s needs change throughout life and that the built environment should strive to accommodate people of all abilities.

There are seven principles of universal design that are meant support a more comfortable and functional space for people of various abilities.

Keeping universal design in mind during a renovation costs a lot less than adding it later. Not to mention, UD may add value to your home. According to a 2015 Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University report,

A curb free entrance, linear drain and fixed glass panel with grab bar make this shower universally accessible.

it’s anticipated that there will be an increased demand for homes with UD elements because the U.S. population aged 65 and over is expected to grow from 48 million to 79 million by 2035. In addition, the number of households headed by someone over 65 will increase by 66%, to almost 50 million. 

While many homeowners may have resisted UD elements a few decades ago because they thought they looked institutional, today there are many elegant options that can add both beauty and convenience.

Some examples of UD enhancements:

  • grab bars for the bath or shower
  • wider doorways
  • sloped walkways
  • wider hallways
  • entrances with no or low steps
  • full baths on the first floor
  • curbless showers

So when Tova suggests a wider doorway, bath grab bars, and other UD design elements that you may not think you need, remember it can add functionality and beauty to your home while providing a built space that is welcoming for people of all abilities.