What is your image of a home in which a person with limited mobility or diminishing eyesight lives? Do you imagine something sterile and unpleasant? Something like a hospital room or a nursing home?

Years ago, when accommodating physical limitations meant retrofitting a home with ugly, utilitarian fixtures and awkward stopgaps, that might have been true. But these days designers like Lisa Tobias, owner of Tobias Design in Hopewell, are able to craft elegant, seamless, and practical living spaces that can both meet the current needs of someone with physical issues or be in place so that when they’re needed, life goes on as normal.

The concept is called universal design, and it is an increasingly popular want among homeowners who want to be able to live independently for as long as they can.

To meet the needs of aging populations, Tobias can design a completely renovated space or recommend small changes that will add up to easier living.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re in a wheelchair. Cooking on full-size stoves or preparing food on standard countertops can be next to impossible. And forget about turning around in the middle of the kitchen, with an island in the way.

But what if the kitchen were redesigned to, say, move the island back a little? And the counters were lowered and a space made underneath into which you could wheel up to cut some veggies? And the bulky range were replaced with a lowered cooktop and an oven that’s been raised closer to your reach level?

The same kinds of ideas can apply to a bathroom. Perhaps replacing your tub with a zero-step shower and adding grab bars that double as towel bars can make all the difference.

But what, you might ask, if you can’t afford to have a whole new shower installed or do any other major renovations? Well, that’s why it’s important to hire a designer like Tobias to come in and take a look and possibly recommend smaller changes that can have a big effect on how you live at home.

“It’s important to hire a designer with experience because they can go through a basic checklist and address costs and timeframes in order to let the client approach a project in an informed way,” she says. “A client with failing eyesight might not be able to renovate a whole kitchen, but they can change to, say, solid-color countertops or add some lighting that helps them see better.”

In other words, there are options for all budgets, and calling a professional like Tobias is an important first step to helping you figure out how ways to stay in your home on your terms for as long as you can.

Find out what Tobias Design can do for you. Visit www.TobiasDesignLLC.com or call 609-466-1445.

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