When a person is confined to a wheelchair, it can mean moving around their own home becomes increasingly difficult and impacts upon their quality of life. However, there really is no need for wheelchair-bound people to put up with a home which does not meet their needs.
The living room
The living room is an area of the home that probably gets the most use, and it is possible to design a layout which makes it easier for a person in a wheelchair to manoeuvre their way around.
It is possible that some renovation and restructuring of the home may be required to make a living room wheelchair accessible. This could mean enlarging hallways and doors that provide entrance into the living room. Indeed, as well as being a very modern way of living, an open plan living room may provide the best solution as it offers fewer corners and awkward spaces to move around. For example, consider whether it is really necessary to have a door into a connecting dining room or whether it can be knocked down to create a through-lounge.
Maximise floor space
Plenty of floor space will naturally be needed when considering wheelchair access. Not only will a wheelchair user need to be able to move forwards and backwards freely, they will need to have enough space to complete a turn. Therefore, it is better if bulky furniture, such as seating, is placed flush against walls, and furniture normally found in the middle of the room, such as a coffee table, is replaced by side tables. To maximise floor space, consider putting certain items on the walls. A flat screen TV can easily be mounted on the wall, obviating the need for a floor-based media unit or table.
Keeping the style
Just because the living room needs to allow wheelchair access, it does not mean that there has to be any compromise on style. Choose hardwood or laminate flooring to add a contemporary touch and also make it easier for a wheelchair to travel.
When it comes to window dressings and considering wheelchair users, less is frequently better. Long curtains that puddle on the floor should not be considered as these could get caught up in the wheels and would also prove difficult for a seated person to pull. Blinds may be similarly difficult to operate, so a much better solution would be custom fitted shutters. These are very much on-trend at the moment, favoured for their clean, streamlined look, just as much as their practicality.
All people need plenty of storage, and this can be incorporated into a living room’s under-window area in the form of window seats, which can also provide additional seating. However, it should be remembered that any storage unit must be low level so that a wheelchair user is able to access it.
A living room that brings all these elements together is not only tailored towards the wheelchair user but is also ideally suited for more able-bodied people, creating an interior that suits every member of the family.
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