Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#661 Universal Design Ideas @ My Library

We're in need of some universal design ideas.

As we are refurbishing our 1914 home, we want to think about how we will be able to “age in place” using universal design elements such as walk-in showers, level outdoor walkways, ample lighting, and kitchen appliances that eliminate the need to bend. Lucky for us, a few universal design books are just waiting for us on the shelves @ our local library. 
So we walk all the way (about 4 blocks) over to our public library on Mr. Jefferson's street.

The lovely folks at the Carnegie Corporation of New York granted $9,000 in March 1913 to construct the Aurora public library for us.
After giving thanks to Andrew Carnegie, we waltz right in, register for a library card, and walk out with just what we need. 
We're just starting to think about how best to design our home. So if you have some favorite universal design ideas to share, please leave it in the comments or contact us!

Yours in scoring big @ my library,


  1. Thanks for sharing your projects with us! It makes me happy to think of you two living your dream.
    I just renovated all my bathrooms, widening doorways, same level shower entry, reinforcing walls behind tile where I might need to put grab bars some day, handheld shower head and ADA faucet handles. What I wish I had done was replace toilets with higher ones with less water usage - guess that will come later.

  2. After a bit of thought, I did remember one thing that another librarian friend of mine told me he had done at the new retirement home they were moving to in Texas. This may not really apply to your place, but it’s the only thing I can think of at the moment that may be a little unusual – at least, I’d never thought of it or seen it done before. But then again, I’ve led a sheltered life! 

    The idea is this. My friend’s new place had a cathedral ceiling (maybe more than one, I don’t know). Anyway, the local building code required a smoke detector be installed high on or near the ceiling in the big room, so high that it would require a rather tall ladder to change the battery in it, whenever that was needed. My friend knew that as he aged, he would be less and less inclined (or able) to be climbing tall ladders to replace smoke alarm batteries. So he asked the electrician whether there was any reason that the battery and the alarm had to be in physical contact? In other words, could the alarm be wired in such a way that the actual battery “compartment” could be in a closet or other space on ground level, so that when it was time to change batteries, no climbing whatsoever would be necessary. Apparently, this was a novel idea to the electrician but nothing in the building code prohibited wiring the device in that way, so that’s how it was done – and now my friend will never have to climb on a ladder, at least not to change smoke alarm batteries!

    Again, don’t know if this is something you could or would want to adapt for your place, but it was the most unusual thing I could think of. Otherwise, particularly in your kitchen but perhaps elsewhere, think about making any kind of electrical outlet high enough on the wall so that you don’t have to “stand on your head” (as my father used to say) to plug things in or out. Plugs are usually behind large objects of furniture, too, which I think is annoying but there may not always be a way around that.

    Also, a pet peeve of mine is where you have dual wall sockets, one of which is controlled by a wall switch (intended to work a light like a table lamp in the room) so that it is on/off depending on the wall switch and the other half the socket is always “on”. In such cases, the top half of the socket seems to be the one that gets wired to the switch – but that means that the “always live” socket is below the lamp plug that is plugged into the switched part of the socket, thus making the unswitched socket harder to get to in order to temporarily plug in things like vacuum cleaners, etc. This is probably an annoyance only for nerds like me!