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Improve Your Home with Great 'Universal Design'

Great design is like great art -- you know it when you see it. However, an essential element of great design is that the form fits the function. In other words, even if it's beautiful, an object isn't well designed unless it accomplishes its intended purpose, and does it well.

Ever-increasing attention to products for the home is reflected in a growing trend of incorporating pleasing design into everything from showers to the kitchen sink.

"Consumers are demanding more style in their homes," says Mary Jo Peterson, a design consultant in Brookfield, Conn. "But they don't want to sacrifice ease of use, either."

She points out that as baby boomers age, more companies are designing home products that look great while taking into account accessibility issues - a concept known as universal design.

A customizable shower tower is an example of a universally designed product, where an everyday product that is functional for everyone to use can also add a touch of style to the bathroom.

A product isn't well designed unless it is functional for everyone to use. "When building or renovating a house, it pays to install products that add style to the home and that can also adapt universally to owners' changing needs," says Peterson. "Not only will it serve the current occupants, but it will add resale value."

For example, if you're redoing your bathroom, project 10 or 15 years down the road -- will you be able to get in and out of your current bathtub? Tubs that are designed with plenty of space around the bath for sitting or for use as a transfer area make getting in and out easier.

While you're working in the bathroom, other long-term design considerations include the height of the lavatory countertop, as well as space beneath the lavatory that allows legroom for a user in a wheelchair. Wall-mount lavatories are perfect examples of stylish lavatories that are also functional. A toilet's height is also a consideration of universal design; a normal height toilet can make sitting down and standing up difficult for some people.

The bottom line is that universal design should not only add flair to your home, but also make your life easier, ultimately turning your home into a more comfortable place to live.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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