We Moved From This Home, But It's Chock Full of Life Changing Features
I have been in a wheelchair for 26 years and I custom designed this home to be a place that works WITH a wheelchair, not against it. Instead of fighting against the house to do what you love, this home allows you the freedom to play in the kitchen, explore the yard, and even get ready in the mornings with ease. The accessible features are also seamlessly integrated into the home design, meaning when you have friends and family over it feels like a home, not a rehab center.
Whether you are in a sports chair, large power chair, scooter, or walker - or even able-bodied, you'll be cruising around your home. Hardwood floors and tile cover the majority of the first floor, everything is level, even the foundation has been lowered so getting in and out of the home doesn't involve any ramps. You can easily access the upstairs bedrooms and basement using the elevator.
With a roll-under cooktop, sink, and cutting board, a lowered island, and wide lanes around the island, you'll be able to whip up gourmet meals in your kitchen. You can handle all the prep work and cooking, and with the direct, flat access from the garage you can even help unload the car. But we're sorry - you won't have any excuses to not do dishes anymore!
Get outside and enjoy the peaceful yard, flat driveway, beautiful gardens and loads of birds with level access out the front, side, and back of the home. All the doors are connected by a wide, house-wrapping sidewalk stretching from the front door all the way around to the back patio.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-879-1435.
The accessible features are also seamlessly integrated into the home design, meaning when you have friends and family over it feels like a home, not a rehab center. Your friends can also hang out while you cook in the huge kitchen, eat in the spacious dining room, take a ride in the elevator, and relax in the peaceful yard.
You can read on to learn more about our story, the specific features of the home, and see many more pictures of what the home has to offer.
This is the third accessible home we have been fortunate to design and build since my auto accident in 1992, when I experienced a spinal cord injury requiring me to use a wheelchair for mobility. It has always been our goal to include accessible features in our homes that would enrich the quality of life for the both of us. With each home we built, we learned more, and then incorporated improvements in the next.
This home is by far the most impressive one we have built and is chock full of "hidden" accessible features. By that we mean we never wanted our homes to look like someone with a disability lived there. To accomplish this, we've integrated the accessible features into the home design or bring the accessible features into play, only when I need to use them.
We are now planning to move from this amazing home to our fourth accessible home located closer to our extended family. We have created this website in the hopes that we can find a buyer for this home who can appreciate and benefit from the many features it contains. This could possibly include another individual with a mobility disability or perhaps a couple who wants a beautiful home where they can comfortably age in place.
The purpose of this page is to highlight the multitude of accessible features contained in the home. Since most of these features are "hidden", we will show you pictures as you would normally see things if you came to visit, and then along side it what it looks like when we unveil the hidden feature.
This is a fairly lengthy article since I want to provide the details for those who are interested in the nitty-gritty. However, I have provided two other ways that you can scan through the document hitting the high points. All the accessible features are bolded so you can skim through and pick out the ones that are most interesting to you. A Table of Contents is presented below so that you can jump to a specific section you want to dive into:
First things first. It goes without saying, that in order to take advantage of the multitude of accessible features available in this home, you first need to enter it! Then once you enter, moving around should also be extremely easy. There are numerous features in the home which makes this access effortless, even for wheelchair users. Those will be covered next.
All four entrances to the home are completely level with the outside surfaces including the garage, driveway, front porch and rear patio. This is made possible by a unique and costly design of the home's foundation walls. It allows the floor level in the house to be approximately the same elevation as the grade outside, rather than 18" to 24" above grade like a "typical" home.
As you can see from the photograph, the front walk leads up to the front porch and directly into the home through the front door; no steps, no ramps, no problem! Similarly, the doors to the driveway and rear patio are perfectly level.
Of the four level entrances, it's the one from the garage which is the most useful since I use it most often. Also, it has a Stanley automatic door opener, which makes it super easy to navigate. To take the usefulness of the accessible entrance from the garage to the next level, we have purchased a utility cart we can load up from our cars in the garage, and then roll it directly into the home to unload it.
To demonstrate how easy this is, we have made a short video of me unloading the van after a shopping trip to BJ's. The video also highlights a couple other accessible features in the home as well. Portions of the video have been sped up to keep it short - I'm not that fast!
One thing that was not shown in the video is that it's possible to push the cart through the door from the garage directly into the elevator, if you'd like to take a load of stuff to the basement or the second floor.
Once you roll into one of the level entrances you want to be able to zoom around inside the home as well. This is possible since most of the floor coverings on the main floor are great for wheelchair users. The largest percentage of the main floor has hardwood or ceramic tile floor coverings, both of which are wheeler friendly. The Study and the Master Bedroom are covered with a short pile carpeting, but with no pad, which makes rolling on them quite easy as well.
The Great Room and the Dining room are the only exceptions since they have thick pile carpeting with a heavy pad. This carpeting makes those rooms feel more luxurious and comfortable. However, they are more difficult to roll on, which is not a big deal since I rarely have to go through them.
Furthermore, the transitions between the various floor coverings are either entirely level (hardwood to tile) or have a "micro ramp" smoothing out the transition (hardwood to carpet and tile to carpet).
Whether you are in a sports chair, large power chair, scooter or walker, there's plenty of room on this main floor for you to zoom around. All of the hallways are 4 to 6 feet wide and all the doorways are 3 foot wide. This makes navigating from room to room a breeze.
It is extremely easy to get to the second floor or the basement by using the 3-stop elevator. The elevator is quite luxurious with paneled sides and a hardwood floor, which matches the main level. Now that I developed the technique, it is quite easy for me in my wheelchair to back into the elevator pulling the solid outside door closed, and then shutting the gate, before departing to the destination floor.
The elevator is the National Wheel-O-Vator Destiny model. It is a "Roped Hydralic", which moves smoothly, quickly, and quietly between floors.
Perhaps the best way to describe the kitchen is to first "walk through" the three activies performed in the kitchen: food prep, cooking or baking, and cleanup. Then some kitchen miscellaneous accessible features will be covered.
I do the majority of the prep work at the end of the island adjacent to the prep sink and refrigerator. As you can see from the picture the pull-out cutting board is conveniently located so I can roll under it, but it's low enough so that it's easy to cut on. There is a trash can in the island so you can just slide remnants off the back of the cutting board and into the trash.
With the prep sink and disposal right there it's easy to wash ingredients and/or dispose of materials you don't want in the trash. The prep sink has an ADA compliant single lever faucet with a pull-down, which makes it easy for a wheeler to fill a pot with water on his or her lap and then transfer it to the cooktop.
Since the refrigerator is adjacent to the cutting board, it's quite easy to move things in and out of the refrigerator without having to wheel around. Speaking of the refrigerator, you may notice that it's nearly flush with the front of the cabinets. This was accomplished by building an inset in the wall behind it which leaves a lot more room to maneuver in the prep area.
Often when preparing a meal I need to get something out of the large pantry, which is right around the corner in the laundry room. We have designed the pantry with sliding doors so that it's easy for me to roll up adjacent to it and reach all the way to the back of the lower shelves. This allows me to have access to most of the items that are stored there.
If the items I am preparing are going to be cooked or baked it's easy for me to place them on the island on the other side of the sink. This way I can easily grab them if I'm going to be using the cooktop. So let's move on to that next activity.
The cooking area has numerous accessible features all surrounding the 36" Electrolux 5-element induction cooktop. Induction cooking is arguably the best cooking technology available today - I simply love it. It heats as fast as gas, and is more efficient and has better control than other technologies. The surface itself does not heat up, so spills do not get cooked on, making it extremely easy to keep clean. The only downside is that it only works with pans which are magnetic.
In addition to those advantages mentioned already there are a few things that make the induction cooktop extremely beneficial from an accessibility standpoint. Safety is perhaps the most important one. When working from a wheelchair you often need to be reaching across a burner to get to one in the back. With the gas stove, or even a coiled type electric, this could be dangerous since your sleeve could potentially catch on fire. Clearly, this could not happen with an induction cooktop, in fact, the surface of the cooktop itself is not even hot to the touch.
When designing the cooktop area the bottom of the cooktop must be far enough off the floor so that a wheeler can roll under it. At the same time, you want the top of the cooktop to be as low as possible so it's easy to cook in the various pots and pans. Since the induction cooktop is only about 3" thick, it keeps the top of the cooktop as low as possible.
There is a pair of flipper doors under the induction cooktop, which when opened, makes it possible for a wheelchair user to roll under and closer to the cooktop.This makes it much easier to reach what is in the pans and pots on the top of the cooktop.
On both sides of the opening under the cooktop are pull-out spice racks. These allow the cook to easily grab and use spices and oils without having to move from the cooking area.
There is also a double wall oven located in the Cooking and Baking area. This oven is extremely easy to use for someone in a wheelchair for two reasons. The bottom oven is reasonably low, which makes it easy for a wheeler to access the oven. Also, it's possible for a wheelchair user to pull up to the left of the oven, making it easier to access it.
Perhaps the worst mistake I made in designing our home was to make the cleanup area fully accessible to me - now I have no excuse for not doing the dishes! There are a pair of flipper doors under the kitchen sink, which when opened, makes it possible for a wheelchair user to roll under. The sink has an ADA compliant single lever faucet with a pull-down, which makes rinsing the dishes in the sink quite easy.
To the left of the sink is a pull-out trash cabinet which contains bins for both trash and recyclables. This makes it effortless to dispose of the trash without needing to move from underneath the sink. And on the right side of the sink is the dishwasher, which can easily be loaded while sitting in the wheelchair at the sink.
The convenient layout of these three components makes the cleanup area as efficient as possible, however, I am still not wild about doing the dishes!
There are several other accessible features in the kitchen that do not fall specifically under one of the three areas covered above. These features provide benefits throughout the kitchen.
Even prior to my accident, we always chose to put drawers in the kitchen base cabinets wherever possible, rather than doors with shelves. It is just so much more convenient to access items from a drawer, especially those items that would be to the bottom and back of the cabinet. And now that I am in a wheelchair, this feature has become much more valuable. Today, with full extension drawers, it is totally awesome.
There are also two Lazy Susan corner cabinets in the kitchen. These make it possible to efficiently store items in the corners of the base cabinets, while easily accessing them via the Lazy Susan.
We designed the kitchen with 4' wide walkways. This makes it easy to navigate through the kitchen in a wheelchair, in fact, I can completely turn around in the walkway, which makes it very convenient.
The island countertop height is 34", about 2" shorter than the standard countertop height. This makes it a little bit easier to work on if you are in a wheelchair or just short. It works great for both me and my wife.
Although the accessible features in the master bath are not as impressive as those in the kitchen, they play an important part in improving my quality of life as I perform my daily routines in that area.
In the master bath is a pair of flipper doors under the left sink, which when opened allow a wheeler to roll under, and closer to the sink. This greatly simplifies brushing teeth and washing while at the sink. The sink has an ADA compliant single lever faucet.
On either side of the sink are two banks of drawers for storing everything you need while at the sink. There is even an electric drawer which has power going to it. This is convenient for plugging in items such as a hairdryer or curling iron, while keeping them both handy and out of sight.
The accessible highlight of the master bath is the large roll in shower (4' x 6'). There are separate controls for the overhead shower as well as the handheld shower head. The controls are the Delta TempAssure shower valve, which keeps the water temperature constant, even when someone flushes the toilet!
Adjacent to the toilet in the master bath is an Accessory Cabinet, which provides storage for toileting supplies and also has a spray hose available. You can see from the picture how the cabinet opens and how my shower chair fits over the toilet.
I typically cath from my wheelchair using a urinal withdrawn from the accessory cabinet along with the other items required. I can then empty the urinal into the toilet and rinse it out with the hose before replacing it in the cabinet. The other items I used can be put into the convenient trash can, also in the accessory cabinet. Having everything available in one place makes toileting a breeze.
There are a few miscellaneous accessible features that didn't fit specifically in one of the above categories, so they're listed here:
In the Great Room there is a Heat and Glo gas fireplace which has a remote. I don't know that you would call it an accessible feature exactly, but it is sure nice to be able to have a cozy fire going with simply a touch of a button.
In the home all faucets have lever controls, which are ADA compliant. Moreover, with few exceptions, most have just a single control, making them even easier to use.
In the home all door handles are lever type, which are ADA compliant. They are the Kwikset Satin Nickel Avalon Door Levers that look quite stylish.
Since the home is quite large, and may have individuals with mobility challenges, I included quite a few 3-way and 4-way switch circuits so that lights could be turned on and off from numerous locations throughout the home.
As you read through this page I hope it spurred a couple of ideas in your mind that you might be able to incorporate in your own home. It is sometimes amazing how just adding a single accessible feature will make life just a tad bit easier, which we can all use.
If you, or perhaps a friend or relative, could greatly benefit from living in a home with this large number of accessible features, please reach out to me with any questions that you might have. It would be wonderful to be able to sell the home to a family that could greatly benefit from its unique attributes.