At Signature Elevators & Accessible Design, we believe home improvements are also quality of life improvements. This is proven every time we work on accessible design remodels. Rather than tell you about accessible design principles or barrier-free remodeling requirements, we’d like to show you the work we recently completed on an immensely gratifying project in Northwest Washington, DC.
Our customers were two long-time friends named Carl and Oscar. Both in their seventies, Carl uses a wheelchair, and Oscar had to have his leg amputated due to a childhood illness. They wanted a whole-home remodel for the house Carl has owned since the 1970s.
The Adams Morgan row home, built around 1890, contained four generations of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, and upgrades, repairs, and improvements put in place by each prior owner.
Carl and Oscar wanted several improvements to their home. They asked Signature Elevators & Accessible Design, and our sister company, Signature Kitchens Additions & Baths, to design and install a four-story residential elevator, an accessible bathroom on the second floor, a powder room on the first, and an accessible wheelchair lift from street level to the first floor.
Call 240-371-0789 to speak to our accessible design team today.
We first made sure the layout of the rooms they wanted remodeled would fit with where the elevator would need to be. Thankfully, the kitchen and bath on the first and second floors were adjacent to where the elevator would be. Next, we worked with Carl and Oscar to choose an overall design for their newly accessible kitchen and decided on Medallion Cabinetry’s “Designer” line (with the “Brookhill” door style in a Pecan stain) for its wide variety of possible modifications.
We designed 32″ high cabinets with modified 8″ toe kicks at the bottom. We also installed pull-out shelving specially made for wheelchair height, allowing Carl to pull out the entire contents of a 48″ deep cabinet!
Appliances are always a big part of a kitchen design, but their careful selection is even more important when remodeling a kitchen for accessibility. For example, we chose an American Blue Star convection oven because its French oven doors swing open to the side for easy access from a wheelchair. For countertop cooking, we chose an induction cooktop by GE because it feels cool to the touch even when it’s on high, allowing Carl and Oscar to use all four elements and not just the front two.
For fume exhaust, we installed a 600 CFM (cubic feet/minute) fan by Vent-A-Hood and completely enclosed it in the Medallion cabinets. For the refrigerator and dishwasher, we chose GE’s “Profile” line because of the accessible French door design. Lastly, we installed MAAX’s 220-amp radiant heating system under beautiful stone tile laid in a classic Versailles pattern.
While working on the kitchen, we also started designing the second-floor accessible bathroom. Carl and Oscar wanted to install a unique system called the “Sure Hands Lift” that could let Carl transport himself back and forth from the bedroom to the bathroom without assistance.
The accessible bath design included a Toto bidet toilet and a handicap bathtub specially made to be easily slid into. We were concerned with the room temperature, so we installed the same radiant heating system in the bathroom that we had in the kitchen.
Accessible Elevators for Virginia, Maryland & Washington, DC Homes
We started the residential elevator side of the job by making room for an elevator shaft from the house’s basement to its roof. We chose Federal Elevator System’s “Panorama” model. The elevator’s standard inside measurements were 36″ by 48″, but we modified it to measure 42″ by 54″ so Carl would have enough room to turn around in his wheelchair.
During the design process, we created a mock-up of the elevator cabin to determine what dimensions would be necessary for the wheelchair’s turning radius. The custom cabin featured recessed oak walls and hardwood flooring.
An additional challenge that came up was that we needed to build a small addition for the third floor to have space for the hoistway. This illustrates that accessible designs are always unique. Each customer looking to improve their quality of life has their own challenges.
Contact our accessible design team about installing a residential elevator in your Virginia or Maryland home.
Accessible Wheelchair Platform Lifts
The next step in the accessible design project took us outside. Carl had recently passed a driver’s test and wanted to easily get from his front door to his car. This was a problem because the first floor was 6 feet above ground level and the basement was 3 feet below.
Our solution was to install an outdoor residential wheelchair lift (sometimes called a porch lift). With this lift, Carl can go from ground level to his front door and to the sun deck on top of the garage!
In all our years working in the real estate, building, and remodeling industries, this project was undoubtedly the most gratifying one we had worked on. It was a pleasure designing an accessible kitchen and bathroom for Carl and Oscar and helping to improve their quality of life.
Want to learn more? Call 301-251-1658 or contact us online!