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The term "forever home" gets thrown around on television shows, by real estate agents, and in sales listings. But what does it really take to create a forever home? Ensuring that your home works for you and your loved ones in all phases of life goes far beyond staying on top of home trends and updating your home's systems as they age. In fact, a forever home is actually pretty synonymous with an accessible home. You might think of compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) as something that concerns only businesses and those with physical disabilities, but there are a number of ADA-compliant home furniture lines and more that can improve any home. Creating a more accessible home can be as easy as swapping in new door knobs and light bulbs—it isn't all ramps and automatic doors like the ones in public spaces.
The easiest way to make your home accessible is to start tackling the task today. It may be easier said than done, but you need to acknowledge that your 80-year-old body just won't be able to jump into your king-size bed or run up three flights of stairs the way your 30-year-old body (usually) can. Designing an accessible home now is a great way to remain self-sufficient should you get injured or require surgery or physical therapy. It also makes your home more welcoming to pets, small children, your parents, your grandparents, and any other visitors whose needs differ from your own. That's why accessible design is sometimes called universal design.
The best news is you don't have to sacrifice style to make your home safer for aging in place, a phrase used by the design industry that encompasses the process of equipping a home for lifetime use. Ahead, we highlight 15 ideas for a more accessible home that don't require a contractor or pricey renovation. You can do all of these modifications yourself.
Install Pull-Down Cabinet Inserts
Whether you're on the shorter side or aren't able to reach the top shelf, opt for a pull-down cabinet insert. This one from Wayfair brings your favorite snacks to you. It also enables kids to serve themselves.
Opt for an Adjustable Desk
Sitting for eight hours a day isn't good for the body, but neither is standing for that long. Find a compromise with an adjustable desk that also leaves room for a wheelchair, walker, or any other mobility device.
Brighten Your Lighting
There's nothing worse than dim restaurant lighting, except maybe dim dining room or living room lighting at home. Swap your sconces for a pair of ADA-compliant ones that offer an ambient glow that's bright enough to read by without a flashlight.
Let Your Furniture Help You
Standing up and sitting down can be challenging for a lot of different reasons. This recliner from Pottery Barn's Accessible Home collection rises to meet you when you want to settle in to watch a movie and then lifts to help you stand when it's over.
Add Adjustable Clothing Storage
Just like your kitchen cabinets, your closet system needs to work for you. An adjustable clothing rail can help keep your everyday essentials within easy reach.
Set Up a Smart Home System
Rather than having to reach for light switches, timers, and speaker systems, control all your tech in one place with a smart home system. Google Nest is voice activated, so there are no tiny buttons to fumble around for.
Secure Your Rugs Safely
Rugs can be trip hazards, but you don't necessarily have to get rid of them to make your home more accessible. Simply place some high-grip rug pads underneath low-pile carpets to ensure a safe foundation. Properly secured rugs can make surfaces like tile and hardwood floors less slippery too.
Install a Pivoting Mirror
Allow your mirror to meet you where you're at. This pivoting one is easy to adjust and doesn't lock into any one position. The sleek design is available in five finishes to suit your bathroom's style.
Add a Bench to Your Shower
If a full bathroom renovation isn't in the cards, a few simple swaps can make your existing space more accessible. Adding a bench, like this durable teak one, to your shower should be a priority. It'll make showering more comfortable and safer, plus you'll feel like you're at a spa.
Keep a Portable Ramp Handy
Stairs aren't for everyone. A portable ramp can make your home more accessible to visitors. If they're a challenge for you, you can take this folding ramp with you to make getting into public spaces and friends' or family members' homes easier.
Install Lever Handles
Round, twisting door knobs can be painful to use for people of all ages. Swap yours for a lever-style knob to give everyone easier access. (Warning: "Everyone" might include your pets. Cats can definitely learn how to open these.)
Put Down an Anti-Fatigue Mat
Stay comfortable while you're on your feet by placing an anti-fatigue mat in your most used spaces, like in front of your kitchen sink or bathroom vanity.
Lower Your Bed Frame
A bed frame that's the same height as a chair is easier to get in and out of than one that's waist high. Opt for a platform design that doesn't require a box spring for the ultimate comfort.
Install a Chic Grab Bar
Grab bars are no longer the eyesores of public bathrooms. Instead, install a chic and slim gold-toned option to steady yourself in the shower or along the stairs.
Add Stair Treads
Kids, pets, and elders alike appreciate nonslip stair tread mats. You can install them indoors and out to help prevent falls. This pack comes with 15 pieces, which might be enough for a full flight. If you don't want to carpet your outdoor stairs, consider mixing sand into the paint the next time you give them a new coat to give you traction.
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