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Great room and dining room
Usselman added a bench with built-in storage cabinets to the dining room to help keep entertaining items organized. "It also saves cleaning time under portable furnishing and requires less bending," she says.
By selecting a variety of soft fabrics and textures, Usselman turned the main bedroom into an escape that engages the senses. Locating the master bedroom away from the main hub of the home helps create a corner of calm. The room's fabric choices―muted in tone and touch―further add to the feeling of serenity. Ample windows and a door that opens to the courtyard connect the space to the outdoors but also provide filtered light via natural bamboo shades. "This home takes full advantage of one of the most abundant of resources: sunlight. Everywhere you look, you have natural light coming into the home," Usselman says. "This helps reduce dependency on alternative interior lighting, and saves energy."
The suite's bathroom features neat, white subway tile for a clean look, and a wide ledge around the tub makes entering and exiting easier for people of all abilities. A dual-sided fireplace connects the bedroom to the bath, combining with a radiant heated floor from Uponor that provides comforting warmth.
How we use Universal Design
• Reconsider where you locate electrical switches and outlets. Placing switches 40 inches and outlets 27 inches above the floor requires less bending and makes them easier to reach.
• Residents with limited mobility appreciate even flooring surfaces, such as the dent-resistant Armstrong hardwood floors featured throughout the first floor.
• We installed Jeld-Wen's MagLock windows, which open smoothly with one hand and automatically lock when closed.
• Open shelving, as shown in the bathroom, provides ready access to towels.
• Cabinets and drawers have C- or D-shaped handles, which require less hand movement than smaller knobs.
Universal Design suite
This space highlights design elements that enhance accessibility. "More people are planning homes that they can live in for as long as possible, and using the principles of Universal Design gives them confidence that they can do so without major modifications," says Brad Hosmar, director of product development for Arbor Custom Homes, the builder for this year's FitHouse. Converting the home's planned office space into a Universal Design–themed, independent living area allows the homeowner to create accessible space for a family member with limited mobility.
"When you use beautiful materials in combination with accessible design ideas, they work together seamlessly and you don't even notice the Universal Design aspects, just that the room feels and functions better than a typical environment," Usselman says. "The concepts are about making life easier for everyone in a home as beautiful as it is functional."
How we use Universal Design
• Adding a built-in seat to the curbless shower makes bathing safer for residents who may need assistance and places commonly used items within reach.
• The bathroom was redesigned to provide a 60-inch diameter turning space for wheelchairs. Similar considerations were made in the furniture layout of the bedroom.
• A handheld showerhead is easier to use than the traditional wall-mounted variety.
• Minor changes―such as switching doorknobs and faucets for lever-controlled options―make operating easier.
Usselman created the home's upstairs landing as a quiet, relaxing space lined with built-in bookcases and a comfortable reading chaise. "Long before it was built, I knew this would be my favorite spot," Usselman says. "With our climate, it feels so great to have a place where rainy days can be enjoyed with a good book and a cup of coffee or a nap."