22 Universal Design Ideas to consider in any home

Many of us unknowingly already have many elements of universal design in our homes already. Whether it helps in the kitchen, the bathroom or throughout the entire home, filling our homes with smart universal design features will provide convenience and comfort to every user in the home regardless of age, stature or need.

Here are 22 universal design ideas for your home – see what you have, see what you need and see what you want to make things in your kitchen, your bathroom and your home, more efficient and user-friendly today and for years to come:

1. Add knee space between lower base cabinets or under countertops in the kitchen.

2. Consider side-opening ovens for more friendly access.

3. Add a pull-out shelf under an oven.

4. Widen a doorway or hallway.

5. Install more lighting – LED better and far cooler than halogen or xenon. Go moisture proof over tubs and showers.

6. Place microwaves at or just below counter height on a shelf (think no more lowering hot dishes from above!).

7. Use a honed or matte finish on granite to lower glare from countertop.

8. Build appliance into drawers for easier access - refrigeration, warming drawers and dishwashers.

9. Consider Induction cooktops – no open flames or hot surface temperatures offer safety and energy efficiency.

10. Create a lower or adjustable height countertop and/or sink area for easier use.

11. Add Roll out shelves and pull out cabinets to see and access dishes, pans and other kitchen items.

12. Install lever handles on all door locks.

13. Replace bathroom tubs with curbless, zero threshold walk-in showers.

14. Relocate shower valves near the shower entry point of your shower instead of under the showerhead.

15. Install at least 1 grab bar (so many nice ones to choose from these days!) where user steps into the tub or shower.

16. Add a hand held shower in addition to main showerhead…and include a trickle control device to manage water flow.

17. Make sure shower and tub valves have temperature and pressure balancing AND anti-scald devices in them (with

18. Include shampoo niches or shower benches in wet areas


19. Add slip-resistant, textured floors to bathroom to protect all ages of children and adults from slipping or other accidents.

20. If bathtub is a must, add a ledge or seating area to aid young children who require supervision or to provide easier access for an adult who needs assistance.

21. Lower light switches and thermostats to 48” above floor and raise outlets to 15” above finished floor.

22. Create at least one no step entry into the house.

Get started by deciding which universal design ideas would be easy to add with little or no assistance. Then discuss these and other options with a professional to help you make the right decisions for your home today and many tomorrows!

By Jim Grace

This post was created using content from the article “Actionable Ideas for Universal Design” by Dan Bawden, Qualified Remodeler, June 2013.

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