Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Quick FAQs About Universal Design and Organization

Universal Design...What is it?

You may have read or heard about Universal Design somewhere in passing.  Once un-familiar, the concept of universal design is growing in popularity among homeowners, remodelers and designers.  While on a grander scale the idea of Universal Design can be applied in designing a new home or remodeling, Universal Design can also be applied on a smaller scale and also to custom organization. 

Below are some quick FAQs about Universal Design.

What is Universal Design?
Universal Design involves designing products and spaces so that they can be used by the widest range of people possible. Universal Design evolved from Accessible Design, a design process that addresses the needs of people with disabilities 

I am not elderly or disabled.  Why should I care about Universal Design?
The smart part about Universal Design is that its not blatant or done with a disregard for aesthetics. Everyone can use Universal Design!  It doesn't matter if you are young or old, short, tall, healthy or ill, someone with a disability or an athlete. With Universal Design, everyone can enjoy a home that will be there for all its inhabitants even when their needs change.

What are some examples of Universal Design?
Some examples of common Universal Design features when designing a new home are wide doorways and hallways, no-step entries, extra floor space and thresholds that are flush with the floor (think showers).  Type 'Universal Design'  into your search on Houzz and you'll see many principals of Universal Design in application of home designs.

I am not building a home so how does Universal Design apply to me?
Even if you are not designing or remodeling a home there are smaller, but equally as impactful, ways to incorporate Universal Design to benefit everyone in a household.  For example, good lighting helps people with poor vision but really helps everyone see better.  Installing lever door handles and rocker light switches are great for people with poor hand strength but others like them too.

How does Universal Design apply to organization?
Custom organization at its core is about making items easier to access.  However, there are several products that specifically accommodate Universal Design and handicap accessible applications. 

For example, pull out kitchen shelves make reaching objects in kitchen cabinets easier.  Everyone in a home will love not having to reach and dig in the back of a cabinet for an item, but for an elderly person or someone is a wheelchair, it is truly necessary.

There are also several closet accessories tailored to Universal Design.  A great example is a pull down closet rod that allows you to bring clothing out and down for easy access while still utilizing the higher area for storage.  It is adjustable from 34” to 50”.

If you are interested in discussing how to incorporate Universal Design concepts into your next custom home organization project, contact Rick Lyrek at Closets For Life for your free in-home consultation. Closets For Life can be reached by phone at 952-484-0416 or by email at You can also visit our website at
Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Closets For Life is a custom organization company that works with residential clients as well as designers, builders, remodelers and architects to create innovative solutions for all organizational needs including closets, mud rooms, craft rooms, kitchens, garages, home offices, Murphy beds, wine cellars and more.