Universal design is easy to access.

By Scott Milano

Universal design promotes products and spaces that are accessible to all people. If this sounds difficult to build, think again. Finding such barrier-free products may be easier than you think.

A simple way to incorporate universal design into your houses is to use traditional products in non-traditional ways. According to Mary Jo Peterson, a kitchen and bath designer from Brookfield, Conn., universal design isn't all or nothing. She believes that even small changes make a big difference.

One trick is to raise the dishwasher off the floor. It's beneficial to those who have trouble bending over to fill the dishwasher, and it changes the height of the countertop. Varying countertop heights offer more options for those working in the kitchen. AD-AS, a manufacturer of universal design products based in Boise, Idaho, offers an adjustable sink that can be raised and lowered with the touch of a button. According to AD-AS, it's ideal for use while standing or seated.

Modular storage accessories can make it easier to find stored items. Users don't have to dig deep or reach high up; instead, they can pull out or move shelves to find the items they want.

Also, solutions can be as easy as installing levers instead of knobs on doors and faucets. Whether it's due to arthritis or just greasy hands, people have trouble grasping knobs. Levers are easy to operate with the backs of hands and elbows, too.

There is one catch to all this adds Peterson; "It has to be attractive!" Universal

design doesn't have to look institutional. There are plenty of barrier-free

products on the market that will complement your clients' homes.

Barrier-free faucet: Designed for ease of use with a contemporary look,

the Salora pullout kitchen faucet features a wide loop handle, a streamlined

faucet body, and a washerless cartridge system. The faucet installs with the

company's patented, single-bolt tie-down system and is available in ivory, sand,

matte black, glacier, chrome, and brushed stainless finishes. Moen. 800-289-6636.


Sinking sink: The Approach motorized adjustment for sinks raises and

lowers the height of the sink for easy and comfortable access. With the touch

of a button, the sink height can change from 28 inches to 36 inches. The system,

which must be used in conjunction with the company's Approach flexible drain

kit, is appropriate for counter widths ranging from 36 inches to 48 inches.

AD-AS. 800-208-2020. www.ad-as.com.

Above the rim: For comfort and accessibility, the Tessera wall-mount

toilet can be installed with a rim height range of 15 inches to 19 inches--1

to 5 inches higher than standard bowl heights. The European-style toilet features

an insulated, polyethylene tank that is built into the wall and installed between

studs, which allows for more floor space in the bathroom. Because the base of

the toilet is eliminated, access to the area below the toilet is not hampered.

Geberit. 800-225-7217. www.us.geberit.com.

Slide out: Hafele's base cabinet pullout system mounts to a cabinet's inside wall. Featuring ball-bearing full-extension slides, the system allows easy access to items stored in inconvenient places. Multiple storage tray sizes are available. Hafele. 800-423-3531. www.hafeleonline.com.