Monthly Archives: February 2012


Excellent article written by Meg McConahey of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat


<p><a href=”;tc=ar” title=”Design for the Ages”>Design for the Ages</a></p>

Universal Design Makes Sense

I went to a luncheon at a friend’s house last week and got involved into a discussion about remodeling. These ladies have lived in their homes for decades and are now looking forward to remodeling and redecorating for themselves. The kids are all gone and they plan on staying in their homes for as long as they can. As you might expect, I got involved in a discussion about universal design. Ask me a question and I hope you want to hear what I have to say. Universal design is my passion and I feel so strongly about the logic of applying it to all interior design that it’s hard for me to understand the objections and resistance from those who would prefer to ignore the fact that they may someday need to live in a more supportive environment.

The challenge was to make them understand that whether or not they ever need accessible features, universal design makes sense. Universal design is about eliminating physical barriers and planning for changing needs; it is flexible and adaptable for every stage of life, for people with varying needs and abilities such as wider hallways, level floor transitions and multilevel work surfaces – all without sacrificing beauty. Universal design is integrated at the conceptual stage and you should not be able to notice any difference from a conventionally designed home unless the occupant is actually disabled and requires safety features such as grab bars. Universal design supports aging in place as well as multi-generational families living in the same home.

Universal design not only makes sense, it makes “cents”. I’ll address the economic benefits of universal design in my next blog. Until then remember:

Good Design Today, Better Living Tomorrow

Andrée Langlois

Accessibility in Design is Essential

I’m teaching Barrier-Free Design at our local Junior College. This is an advanced class that is required for the certificate in interior design. I teach ADA, California Accessibility Code, and universal design. My students are very accomplished and anxious to graduate and work in their chosen field.

Our first day of class included a campus tour using wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. It was quite an experience for all these able-bodied students to navigate obstacles they had never noticed before. They had to make their way over cracked pathways, curbs with truncated domes that are useful to the sight-impaired but difficult to get through with a wheelchair or walking aids, cross slopes and steep ramps, compliant but hard-to-use restrooms, and groups of rushing students making their way around them. While our campus is mostly code compliant and very accessible, the reality is that being physically disabled presents a lot of challenges and can make life very difficult.

The reports the students wrote were amazingly insightful and compassionate and I found myself so looking forward to the next class because I knew that THEY GOT IT! They are now hungry for the knowledge that they can apply in their design work to the benefit of their clients. They understand that interior designers can greatly improve the quality of life of their clients. They get the meaning of

Good Design Today, Better Living Tomorrow