Our needs and those of our loved ones evolve with time—and so should our homes. We have all heard of Universal Design and how it uses simple yet smart ways to make spaces more user-friendly, practical and safer for people of different ages and physical abilities. CapitaLand is all for the concept of inclusive living spaces, having come up on top with the most number of BCA Universal Design Mark Platinum Awards to its name. It has three of the seven ever conferred since the award was re-introduced in 2012.
Let Inside take you on a journey to explore how Universal Design features can be weaved into your home. And the best part? It doesn’t have to be a massive project. Just grab a toolbox and follow our lead!
Stop the twist
The first principle of Universal Design is that it should be “equitable in use”. Anyone, regardless of age, strength or mobility, should be able to use an item in the same way. Now consider your standard bedroom doorknob. It takes a fair amount of strength and dexterity to turn it. With a lever handle, however, it’s a simple matter of press and go. The same applies to the faucets in your bathroom and kitchen—are they really universal? Can a young child, an elderly person or arthritis patient with a weak grip manage with equal ease? The ‘closed fist’ test is a good way to tell.
With a clenched fist, try to open a door or turn a faucet on and off. If you can do it, great. If you can’t, it’s time to think about levers. Lever handles are readily available at many homeware stores and replacing door hardware is a simple DIY job that most of us can handle. It doesn’t take us much effort but it can make a world of a difference to someone else.
Add some colour
Colour is frequently used to personalise homes, create ambience or make a dramatic visual statement. While many of us have spent days poring over colour charts and paint chips, few realise that colour is as functional as it is aesthetic. In the world of Universal Design, colour contrasts have an important navigational purpose.
If the colour of a floor and wall are similar, it can be difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins in low light conditions. This could lead to people turning a corner before actually reaching it, and colliding into the wall instead. Strong contrasting colours work best but if you’re not ready to paint an entire wall bright green or chilli red, there are easier ways.
Consider adding a strip of colour along the bottom of the wallor using a different coloured skirting board. That’s often enough to address the issue—while earning you extra style points too!
Light my way
In Singapore, home accidents put more people in hospital than traffic accidents do, and an increasing number of cases involve senior citizens. As we age, our night vision deteriorates, making it a good idea to use nightlights especially along the halls and corridors between bedrooms and bathrooms. If you have young children who tend to wander into your bed in the middle of the night, this also helps keep them safe.
Leaving a light on throughout the night isn’t very energy efficient or environmentally friendly, so consider motion sensor light controls instead. There are inexpensive ones that you can purchase, plug and play. Most of them will work with your existing lights, so there’s no need to invest in new lamps or fumble with installation.
No more slipping or tripping
A carpet can be a nice decorative touch to your home but it can also pose a safety hazard. Carpets and rugs can slip and slide, taking an unsuspecting passer-by on a painful fall. Even if the one you own comes with an anti-slip backing, keep reading.
Carpet edges tend to curl after some time. When they do, people are likely to trip, stumble and fall. There are carpet tapes in the market that can help you with this, but a cheaper DIY alternative is to pick up a roll of rubber shelf liner. Cut the thin non-slip material into strips, lay them on the floor and roll your carpet over it, making sure that the edges line up. The strips will hold your carpet (and its edges) in place, so you don’t have to worry about an accident happening in your personal sanctuary.
There’s no time like the present to prepare for the future. Swing by these stores to pick up what you need:Besglas Singapore
Sim Siang Choon
The Wall Story