Is Your Home Guest Friendly?

Posted by — July 7, 2005

Is Your Home Guest Friendly?

Like most Americans, you are probably entertaining more at home. If so, is your home guest friendly? Have you noticed that certain members of your family or friends always have excuses not to attend your holiday gatherings, barbeques or other social events? Don’t take the excuses personally. It likely isn’t you or your party-throwing abilities. Instead, it may be your living environment.

Your home may be designed to adequately meet your daily needs, but what about the special needs of visitors? Although you might be of excellent health with no physical limitations, the same may not be true for some of your friends and family, for instance an elderly aunt, a friend recuperating from a stroke, a son recovering from a broken leg, a pregnant daughter-in-law or a grandchild with cerebral palsy.

To determine if your home is guest friendly, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) recommends that you ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does your home have at least one “barrier-free” entrance without steps and with an easy-to-open door?

2. Is there a bench or other seating outside your front door to provide a comfortable environment for elderly or disabled guests to wait until you are able to greet them?

3. Are the doorways and hallways in your home wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or large stroller? (An added benefit of large doorways and hallways is an illusion of spaciousness, even in small living spaces, and they make moving furniture less cumbersome.)

4. Is there a bathroom on the main floor of your home? Is this bathroom large enough to accommodate someone in a wheelchair using a walker? Can a disabled visitor easily use the commode or sink? Even in small guest bathrooms, an enclosed vanity can be replaced with a pedestal sink to create more space and enhance leg room.

5. Are the area rugs in your family room, recreation room or other communal areas flat or recessed into the floor to prevent tripping and to accommodate a guest on crutches or one who is using a cane?

6. As the kitchen has become the “social epicenter” of the home, is yours equipped with multi-level counter spaces to accommodate people of different heights and abilities? Is it large enough to allow comfortable maneuvering by a guest with any physical disabilities, particularly an individual in a wheelchair?

7. Is the lighting in your living room, family room or other common area of a high enough wattage to accommodate guests with cataracts or decreased visual acumen? (Before increasing wattage in your lamps and fixtures, make sure they can safely accommodate the additional energy level.)

8. Are the interior doors in your home equipped with lever handles instead of traditional door knobs so that guests with arthritis or other hand- or arm-related physical limitations can easily enter and exit without having to grasp or turn their wrists?

9. Is there a smooth transition (no steps) to your backyard, patio or deck so your guests can enjoy both the indoor and outdoor areas of your home?

Qualified interior designers are educated and trained to ask these questions and answer them effectively to create functional and beautiful living spaces. ASID interior designers can offer solutions to ensure that your home--from the front door to the back patio--is appealing to everyone from an accessibility standpoint. The applications are transparent. Most visitors won’t even realize that the solutions are incorporated in the design. Instead, guests will feel very comfortable in your home and not understand why.

By working with an interior designer you will be certain your home will be designed to enhance the experiences of all of your guests, no matter their age and/or abilities. As a result, you will be able to entertain more successfully. In fact, the only future “problem” you could encounter in regards to entertaining will be too many guests at your gatherings...and no repeat excuses for not attending!

--ARA

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