After a 1998 spinal cord injury left Rosemarie Rossetti paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair, she and her husband, Mark Leder, needed to build a new home to accommodate her newly compromised mobility. They assembled a design team and served as the general contractors, and founded the Universal Design Living Laboratory in Columbus, Ohio, where they’ve been living since 2012. This one-of-a-kind national demonstration home has received the highest levels of certification from three universal design national certification programs (Lifeflex, Livable Design, and ZeroStep), making it the top-rated universal design home in North America. It is also LEED Silver level certified and Gold level certified on the National Green Building Standard program.
As a person who uses a wheelchair, she wanted full independence and maximum safety in their master bathroom. Bathrooms often provide a unique set of challenges, given space restraints, the location of plumbing, and the variety of tasks occurring in the room. The storage needs to be accessible from a seated position. Storage space that is typically under the sink was lost due to her requirement for knee space in order to roll under the sink. A solution was to install cabinets with deep drawers and shelves in the toilet room. For accessibility, a pull-down unit was installed on the top shelf.
Pull-down shelving units enable a person to pull down the contents on high shelves so they are reachable for a shorter person and a person in a wheelchair.
A guideline to design accessible storage is that 50% should be reachable from a seated position. Keep in mind that a person in a wheelchair has a limited reach. Generally, plan for storage to be 18 to 48 inches from the floor, so the items are reachable from a seated position. Cabinets with pull-out drawers and shelves position stored items at a more accessible reach.
Kitchen appliances and pans are stored in a 36 inch-wide, 30-inch deep closet that’s 4 ½ feet high.
Excerpts taken from Rosemarie’s series of blogs for the National Kitchen and Bath Association. You can read more about The Universal Design lab here:
Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D., CLIPP, is an internationally known speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of the Universal Design Toolkit.