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Article:: Improve Your Home with Great 'Universal Design'

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Improve Your Home with Great 'Universal Design'

(ARA) - Great design is like great art -- you know it when you see it. However, an essential element of great design is that the form fits the function. In other words, even if it's beautiful, an object isn't well designed unless it accomplishes its intended purpose, and does it well.

Ever-increasing attention to products for the home is reflected in a growing trend of incorporating pleasing design into everything from showers to the kitchen sink. "Consumers are demanding more style in their homes," says Mary Jo Peterson, a design consultant in Brookfield, Conn. "But they don't want to sacrifice ease of use, either." She points out that as baby boomers age, more companies are designing home products that look great while taking into account accessibility issues ? a concept known as universal design.

A customizable shower tower is an example of a universally designed product, where an everyday product that is functional for everyone to use can also add a touch of style to the bathroom. For instance, the WaterHaven Shower Tower from Kohler, with two adjustable showerheads and easy-to-use, intuitive controls, is as eye-catching as it is practical. "Not only does the shower adjust to the user, sliding up for a tall person, down for a shorter person, or further down for a child or a person in a wheel chair, but it can serve as the centerpiece of the bathroom as well, thanks to its good looks," says Peterson.

"When building or renovating a house, it pays to install products that add style to the home and that can also adapt universally to owners' changing needs," says Peterson. "Not only will it serve the current occupants, but it will add resale value." For example, if you're redoing your bathroom, project 10 or 15 years down the road -- will you be able to get in and out of your current bathtub? Tubs that are designed with plenty of space around the bath for sitting or for use as a transfer area make getting in and out easier. The Tea-For-Two tub from Kohler is an excellent option. It offers good depth, it has a flat bottom and is slip resistant for added safety and easy access.

While you're working in the bathroom, other long-term design considerations include the height of the lavatory countertop, as well as space beneath the lavatory that allows legroom for a user in a wheelchair. Wall-mount lavatories or modern washbasins such as Kohler Vessels are perfect examples of stylish lavatories that are also functional.

A toilet's height is also a consideration of universal design; a normal height toilet can make sitting down and standing up difficult for some people. Comfort Height toilets from Kohler, which are just over 17 inches high similar to an average sitting chair, address this problem. "This height is actually more comfortable for most people than the standard toilet height," notes Peterson.

Another room where universal design can pay off is in the kitchen. Planning for a variety of counter heights to add function is becoming more common. Many new kitchens feature two or even three heights: one working area for a shorter person or someone who is seated, one at a "normal" counter height and maybe a third at "bar height," that would be a good working level for a taller person.

Appliances are also evolving to address universal design issues. Dishwashers that can be installed in drawers and undercounter refrigerators add a contemporary design to the kitchen as well as make for easy access. Storage pantries with adjustable shelves make it easy to accommodate different needs. Another way to add universal design to the kitchen is with great-looking, ergonomic faucets. Faucets with integrated sprayheads can be pulled out or down to provide a longer reach, allowing users to effortlessly deliver water where it's needed and making sink cleanup easy. Another option to avoid having to lift heavy pots is Kohler's Pro CookSink. It's just what the name implies -- a cooking pot with a dedicated faucet and an integrated drain. The Pro CookSink allows you to boil, steam, poach and simmer foods with innovative water-based cooking, while no longer carrying heavy pots of water from the sink to the stove, and then back to the sink.

The bottom line is that universal design should not only add flair to your home, but also make your life easier, ultimately turning your home into a more comfortable place to live.

For more information on all of Kohler's products, log onto www.kohler.com or call (800) 4-KOHLER.

Courtesy of ARA Content


Authors Website: http://www.aracontent.com/

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