Australian counts over 4 million people with a physical handicap that significantly impacts on their everyday life. To put things into perspectives, it’s around 20% of the Australian population, dealing with disabilities that affects their motion, their work, their relationships, and their home life.
Admittedly, the definition of physical disabilities is vast. For instance, over 16% of Australians struggle with varying levels of hearing loss, from mild loss to total deafness, which might require assistive technology and even the presence of a service companion such as a dog. Blindness and visual impairment affect less than 1.5% of the population, which, unfortunately, can make it challenging to provide practical and user-friendly solutions. But the most dramatic condition that can completely transform your home is mobility issues. Indeed, with 4.4% of the population using a wheelchair, and almost 15% of those with a disability using a mobility aid, it is impossible to ignore how the loss of one’s mobility can affect the household.
Aside from the risk of discrimination, which is a real problem for young people, the first thing that a new wheelchair user needs to consider is how to make their home accessible. Indeed, modifications are necessary to allow passage for the wheelchair and ensure support in most areas around the house. From wider doorways to ramps, bars, and toilet risers, a lot of homeowners rely on DIY to create a place that is accessible. Unfortunately, in the process, they can often forget that their property is first and foremost a home. While accessibility is a necessary criterion of living, keeping the place feeling homely and beautiful is just as important. Ultimately, a wheelchair user shouldn’t feel robbed of their emotional comfort, interior style and affection for the property when they’re deprived of their mobility. In other words, here’s how wheelchair users can still have a home sweet home:
Wheelchair user in her kitchen
#1. There will always be a garden
The image of a cozy home is often linked to a luxuriant garden. However, when you are in a wheelchair, enjoying your garden tends to fall back at the bottom of the list. In reality, there is nothing that prevents you from keeping your green thumbs active, least of all your wheelchair. Indeed, if the ground is uneven, you can consider landscaping improvements that will keep your outdoors not only accessible but also workable for an enthusiastic gardener. For instance, there are plenty of brilliant covered patio ideas that not only provide an extension to the living space at home but also let you venture in the garden freely. Additionally, with the help of professional landscape designers, you can bring your ground level garden to your height. Raised beds for vegetables and flowers offer the perfect alternative and still let you grow all the things you love.
You can also use potted plants to control vegetation in the garden and create patches of colors.
#2. A floor that says welcome home
There’s no denying that wheelchair users can struggle on a carpeted floor, or in a room that has a loose rug. However, changing your flooring solution doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your idea of a stylish interior. On the contrary, you can find elegant alternatives that can still be part of the exquisite decor. Concrete floors are a favorite for wheelchair users because of their durability. Indeed, you’re less likely to find wheel tracks and worn out areas when the wheelchair passes on a concrete floor. Additionally, you can work with experts to design a trendy pattern – in the colors you like – for your rooms.
#3. Let your home do the hard work
It’s impossible to think of wheelchairs without worrying about losing your independence. Indeed, when your mobility is affected, you can struggle to carry out typical day-to-day tasks that you would have completed without a second thought in the past. While this might have been true in the past century, you live in an era of high-tech devices. Introducing smart home tech to your interior cannot only dramatically change your habits but also helps you to retain your independence. Amazon Echo, for instance, lets you interact with most devices at home, using only your voice. Smart locks and doorbell allow you to give secure access to the people you trust – and keep strangers at bay! A smart thermostat keeps you warm when you need it. You can manage your home smoothly.
#4. Create a cozy and modern space
Here’s an important question to ask yourself: why do we assume that wheelchair users need large, open areas? Admittedly, you do need the room to be large enough for your chair to circulate. However, it doesn’t mean you should give up on any pretense of privacy, interior chic and quirky design. Ultimately, interior doors can be a pain at home, as they can open toward you, which can be tricky to handle. But it doesn’t mean you should remove all your dividers! On the contrary, you can find sliding doors – barn doors are a great option – that are easy to move and don’t disturb your path. Besides, they can completely transform your decor!
#5. Who says you can’t DIY?
When was the last time you made something for your home? If you can’t remember, or if it was before you landed in a wheelchair, it might be a sign that you’re letting your handicap define who you are. While painting walls can be tricky, you can opt for a manageable DIY craft that can set the mood. Painting small and medium-sized furniture using chalk paint is not only easy, but it’s also quick and fun. What’s stopping you from giving your favourite table a vibrant finish?
#6. Redecorate your favourite room with height in mind
Last, but not least, you need to stay focused on the things you love. If you’ve always enjoyed cooking, don’t let the wheelchair take it away from you. You can lower your countertop and make your shelves mobile so that everything is within arm’s reach when you need it.
Making properties wheelchair accessible becomes a priority for those who struggle with mobility issues. However, as a homeowner, you have to remember that your home is a place of love, style, and peace. Accessibility is only the beginning of the journey. Make it pretty too because you want to keep feeling at home.