Universal Design is an approach to architecture and design that seeks to make spaces accessible to all people, regardless of age, size or ability. The term was coined by Ronald Mace, an architect who focused on making public spaces easier for people with physical disabilities to use.
Universal Design differs from other approaches to accessible design and assistive technology because instead of trying to meet the specific needs of individuals, it strives to integrate people with disabilities into the mainstream. In other words, it focuses on offering accessibility to everyone rather than helping people with disabilities cope with barriers that could have been avoided in the first place. Common Universal Design features include ramps, curb cuts and push-button doors, which not only assist individuals with limited mobility but also make spaces easy for all people to use.
Although typically used in public spaces, people can integrate Universal Design principles into their homes. Here are few ways this can be done:
• Replace door locks with keyless entry systems
• Have a full bathroom on the ground floor
• Use open shelving in the kitchen instead of cabinets with doors
• Install grab bars and no-slip flooring in the bathroom
• Replace faucets with touchless or single-lever controls
• Invest in a walk-in shower
With life expectancies rising and higher survival rates for people with disabling conditions, disability-friendly homes are increasingly in demand. Taking steps to make your home more universally accessible will likely prove beneficial and could become a selling point should your home go on the market.
Spring home buying season opens soon
Spring remains the best time to sell a home, with many buyers out looking while school is out and the weather improves.
It’s a great time to sell, too. In November, home prices rose 14.6 percent higher than the previous 12 months.
Sellers should not have much of a problem moving their homes to the ‘sold’ column. The supply of houses for sale is low, but there are plenty of buyers around, forcing prices up. Most properties are on the market for less than two months.
For sellers who want the best prices for their homes, start now to fix up and clean up. Expensive renovations are not necessary, but be sure to paint it or scrub it.
De-cluttering is a good way to keep your house display-ready. Put knickknacks, family photos, and collectibles in storage while you are showing the house.
Make sure your cabinets, built-drawers, and closets are cleaned out (and not stuffed!)
You’ll want to think overpricing. Your real estate agent may survey recent sale prices in the neighborhood and find houses that are comparable in price. Although there are many buyers around, you’ll want to come up with a strong, but realistic price to attract the most qualified buyers.
Photos are more important than ever since so many people, especially younger ones, research homes through online sources such as Zillow.
For buyers in areas with a low housing supply, a strong offer is essential, especially if there are other interested buyers.
Make sure your financing is in place and be ready to act quickly. If you see the house you want, sign an offer immediately and get it to the seller.
Try to make a clean offer with few contingencies. If you need to sell your home, put it on the market immediately and arrange temporary housing while you shop for a house.
Be flexible with what you want in a house. Analyze your basic priorities and look for those first. Review homes for sale online in and around your preferred neighborhood so you know what amenities to expect at your price point.
5 hardwood floor finishes and what they’re best for
Do you need to refinish your hardwood floors? If so, here’s a brief guide to five common types that are available.
1. Water-based polyurethane is ideal for floors in need of a quick-drying, clear finish. This is a product that’s low in VOCs and ages without yellowing. However, it does little to hide scratches.
2. Oil-based polyurethane is best for floors in high-traffic areas. It’s highly durable and easy to maintain. On the downside, it’s slow to dry, high in VOCs, and yellows over time.
3. Moisture cure urethane is well suited to floors that require a very tough finish. It resists moisture, scratches, stains, and general wear. However, it has high levels of VOCs, and applying it requires you to vacate your home.
4. Wax is great anywhere you want a low-sheen finish. Unfortunately, it’s not very durable and tends to darken over time. It can scuff and scratch easily and doesn’t mix well with water.
5. Penetrating oil sealer is ideal for subtly highlighting the natural grain of the wood, especially in a historic home. This product needs to be reapplied every few years and requires a wax topcoat.
You’ll find these products at your local hardware store. For top-notch results, consider hiring a professional to strip and sand your wood floors and then expertly apply the finish.
A brief look at bathroom trends
Marble bathrooms are timelessly elegant, and in 2021, interior designers are increasingly using this type of stone. Here are some other trends to consider for your next bathroom remodel.
• Gold fixtures, faucets, and mirrors are taking the spotlight. A matte or brushed finish is the way to go.
• Natural elements like loose stones, wood cabinets, and plants are lending bathrooms an organic feel.
• Open showers are on-trend, especially those with luxurious features like an integrated bench, a misting system, ambient lighting, an anti-fog mirror, and a linear drain.
• Island vanities that feature two sinks sitting back to back rather than side by side are a chic upgrade for a large bathroom.
Lastly, technology is playing an increasingly important role in bathroom design. If you’re planning a remodel, you can ask your contractor to incorporate features like USB chargers in vanity drawers, app-controlled speakers, and smart shower heads that conserve water.
How to use architectural lighting to revamp your home
Architectural lighting enhances the structure of the space to create a cohesive experience. It’s something to be considered during every building and renovation project, and the earlier the better. This is because this type of lighting is integrated directly into space, blending in with the features of your home. Here are some ways architectural lighting is used.
To emphasize ceilings
If you have architectural ceilings, rather than installing pot lights consider adopting lighting that blends into the millwork and molding. This could work well on a beamed, coffered, coved, or tray ceiling.
To set the mood with wall wash lighting
Wall washing is a technique that directs light at a wall to draw attention to the smooth, vertical surface. The fixtures can be recessed in the ceiling or mounted to it. If you prefer to create an uplighting effect, install the lights on the floor.
To light your way
Illuminate stairways by adding pot lights on both sides of the bottom step, either on the lowest riser or the wall. Alternatively, add lighting within each riser. Uplighting can create height and drama, and when used to illuminate staircases, it also focuses light where it’s most needed.
There are many other possibilities when it comes to architectural lighting, from illuminating the underside of kitchen counters and cabinets, to lighting up built-in shelving and other custom features. For the best possible results, make sure to speak with an architect before you start your renovation or building project.
3 smart home features that buyers want
One of the best ways to gain an edge in the real estate market is with smart technologies that provide improvements in comfort, convenience, and security. Here are three smart home features that home buyers are increasingly interested in.
1. Smart home security
Smart security systems provide robust all-round protection. They consolidate various security tools — burglar alarms, fire alarms, locks, surveillance cameras, and lighting — in one wall-mounted touch panel and smartphone app, allowing you to fine-tune your home security and manage and monitor your system from a distance.
2. Smart thermostats
Smart thermostats allow homeowners to remotely adjust their heating and air conditioning using an application on their phone. Many can also be paired with ventilation systems and humidifiers. These devices help homeowners save energy and enjoy optimal comfort by automatically adjusting the temperature according to their usage needs and preferences.
3. Smart appliances
Homebuyers appreciate that smart fridges, washers, dryers, stoves, and other appliances are generally more energy-efficient and offer various useful features. For example, a smart stove allows users to preheat the oven from their smartphone and receive alerts when the cooking has finished. Additionally, certain smart washer and dryer units use artificial intelligence to determine the weight and fabric softness of each load in order to select the optimal wash cycle.
If you have any of these home technologies, flaunt them when selling your house. If not, consider upgrading your home to make it “smarter.”
How to spot a bike-friendly neighborhood
Are you buying a new home? If your main mode of transportation is a bicycle, it’s a good idea to determine how bike-friendly a neighborhood is before you decide to live there. Here are five factors to consider.
1. Designated bike lanes
It’s safer to ride in designated bike lanes than on the road. The ideal neighborhood for cycling has bike lanes separated from roads with a barrier. Conversely, the most unsafe routes for cyclists are those where riders are sandwiched between moving traffic and parked cars.
2. Road conditions
As a cyclist, it’s best to steer clear of routes with large cracks and potholes. Look for a neighborhood where the roads and paths are in good shape and well-maintained.
3. Traffic volume
It can be unpleasant to bike in heavy traffic. In addition to being less safe, busy roads are noisy and more polluted.
4. Speed limits
Residential streets with low vehicle speed limits are ideal for cyclists, especially if they must share the road with drivers.
5. Flat terrain
If you use your bike for long commutes, a hilly neighborhood could be a problem, as it can make your daily ride excessively grueling.
Lastly, if you love to bike in nature, choose a neighborhood with bike paths that pass through parks, waterfronts, and other scenic areas.