5 Hacks for Interior Designing If you have a Wheelchair Patient Living with You
If you’re in the process of adapting your household for a wheelchair patient, know that it won’t be too easy. After all, this isn’t your usual interior designing task. You’ve got to make sure that your home becomes completely wheelchair accessible. And it’s not just about having enough open space either, you need to be certain that all the basic home amenities are available to the wheelchair-bound member of your household. Don’t worry, though – we’ve got a couple of good tips for you.
Anticipating the Challenges of Wheelchair Users
In the process of interior designing for a wheelchair patient, being practically-minded is not the only important thing. Apart from that, you need to be able to empathize with such people on an extremely deep level. Deep enough so that you can think of all the challenges they face, and counter them with your interior design. And this is something that goes through all aspects of a wheelchair patient’s life. From the maintenance of personal hygiene to using everyday kitchen appliances, these are all things that come into question once you’re wheelchair-bound.
However, having easy access to household items, door handles and grab bars isn’t enough. You need to think of ways for the wheelchair patient to be able to conduct themselves around the house independently, without anyone’s outside help. So, if you’ve moved to a new home with the help of a company like Divine Moving and Storage NYC, you’ll have to consider the layout carefully. You need to make it both practical, and aesthetically pleasing.
Sure, you may not be able to alter the original floor plan, as knocking the walls down may be out of the question; especially if you’re renting. But don’t worry – there are still a couple of hacks for interior designing that you can think about implementing. Sure, there isn’t a single universal design that’s perfect for every home; you’ll have to think about what suits your household the best. However, there are a couple of things that everyone should think about when interior designing for a wheelchair patient.
Namely, you should take a look at the doorways you have in your home. The footprint of a standard wheelchair is 30x48in, on average. And if you want to leave enough space for maneuvering and ease of access; your doorways should be at least 32in wide. Plus, you should get rid of any too large furniture in the rooms themselves. You should find a storage facility for bulky furniture, and put it all there. Fill your rooms with more practical centerpieces.
Bearing that in mind, you should also consider height. All desk surfaces should be at around 28 to 32in, with enough room for knees beneath. And in that regard, think something between 27 and 29in. Naturally, there’s one last piece of general layout everyone should think about: the wheelchair ramp. Obviously, at least one entrance to your home will need one. And make sure you’ve got a good slope, that’s doesn’t have too steep of an incline.
Taking Care of the Lighting
Up until now, we’ve mentioned some of the hacks for interior design for wheelchair patients; these have been fairly obvious things, like the installing of wheelchair ramps at the exits. However, there are also details many people don’t think about, and they’re actually crucial for anyone with a disability. For example – the lighting. In most cases, people don’t even consider that wheelchair-bound individual can rarely access the usual light switches. From the point of view of disabled people, even switches which are directly above countertops are simply too high.
Naturally, guessing the right height can be tricky. But, we recommend moving these to a height of around 36in. That should be close enough for people in a sitting position. Also, we definitely don’t recommend doing this on your own. You should find a good electrician, who can handle fine precision work without difficulty. Also, here is a hack that could benefit all members of the household: LED light switches. This will reduce stumbling in the dark for a light switch to a minimum.
Wheelchair accessible stairways and corridors
Usually, stairways present the biggest problem for wheelchair users, for obvious reasons. So, when you’re redoing your stairwells to make them more adaptable to wheelchairs, you need to have safety in mind first. Check the handrails, in order to make certain that they can support the weight of the user. Plus, we recommend avoiding too many mats or rugs in the hallways and in your home in general; these can easily wrinkle, becoming the source of slipping and tripping hazards.
Fire Safety and Easy Access
So far, we’ve only dealt with the challenges that wheelchair users face on a daily basis. And don’t get us wrong; anticipating every aspect of the daily lives of such people is important, as we’ve emphasized multiple times. However, you should also go a step further, and think of low-likelihood, but high-risk scenarios. For example – can you think of what you would do if a fire happened in your home? In this case, wheelchair users need to have the proper accommodations as well.
Take the time to design a personal evacuation plan for the wheelchair-restrained person. That way, they won’t panic when an actual fire happens. Also, make sure they know this plan extremely well. Besides that, you should also always have a good fire exit, that doesn’t have any obstacles or clutter in the way.