Houzz Tour: Universal Design in San Francisco Home

For general contractor Jeff Kann, universal design goes beyond outfitting the space for wheelchairs. It’s about letting people participate in family and community life for much, much longer. Sound universal design avoids premature moves and creates sustainable and safer spaces, she says: “It’s about making the living spaces easier and safer for all ages.”

This remodel was conceived to create a comfortable and expanded living space on the first level of a two-story home in San Francisco’s Sunset district, creating an option to avoid the use of stairs entirely as the clients grow older. In the meantime, the homeowners can use the renovated first level now as a guest suite for visiting family and friends.

Houzz.com — When looking for home modification ideas, search through the photos & portfolios of leading Interior Design professionals for key words such as Kitchen, Bath, Stair Ramp, Stair Lift, Home Elevator, Universal Design, and Aging-in-Place.

Wayne’s Critique by Picture #:

  1. Not too bad. The one-step entry won’t support wheelchair access, but it’s relatively easy to install a nice-looking ramp later. Still, I would have preferred a ramp at the outset.
  2. Good. The hallway to the bedroom is nice and wide.
  3. Fair. When the shower door swings in, there’s not enough space for wheelchair access, and when it swings out, water will drip on the floor by the sink.
  4. Good. Pocket doors eliminate the sort of door-swing issues that I mention above.
  5. Good. Compared to a center drain, a trench drain makes for a more even surface for standing or for a wheelchair.
  6. Good. Radiant floor heating can eliminate the need for throw rugs that can cause tripping, but if the shower door swings outward and drips water by the sink (#3), then a tripping hazard still exists.
  7. Good. Nice kitchen.
  8. Bad. They reduced the slope of the stairway, but it’s too narrow to easily install a stair lift later if needed. An alternative is to block-in a channel for an elevator and use that space for closets if not needed.
  9. Bad. The previous photo shows a handrail on stairs leading upward, but that handrail should have wrapped around since there’s a one-step landing at the bottom.
  10. Good. Even though the couple has no disability issues, they thought about the resale benefits of including at least some universal design features.