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Space Optimization: Designing Wheelchair-Friendly Upper-Level Bedrooms

Creating a beautiful and functional bedroom that fosters independence and comfort is essential for everyone. But when designing an upper-level bedroom for someone who uses a wheelchair, space optimization becomes even more crucial. Here, we’ll explore practical tips and design principles to create a wheelchair-accessible haven without sacrificing style or livability.

Embrace Universal Design

The key to a successful accessible bedroom lies in embracing the concept of universal design. This approach focuses on creating spaces usable by everyone, regardless of ability. By prioritizing inclusivity, you not only cater to wheelchair users but also enhance the space for guests, people with temporary limitations, and even yourself as you age.

Start with the Basics: Measurements and Maneuvering Space

  • Doorways: Standard doorways might not suffice. Consider widening them to 32-36 inches to allow for comfortable wheelchair passage.
  • Turning Space: A wheelchair user needs a turning circle of at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) in diameter. This allows for maneuvering within the room and around furniture.
  • Clear Floor Space: Ensure ample clear floor space around the bed, closet, and other furniture. Aim for a minimum of 3 feet (0.9 meters) for a single, parallel approach, and 5 feet (1.5 meters) for a full, 180-degree turn.

Optimizing Furniture Placement and Accessibility

How to plan furniture placement in a room?

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  • The Bed: Select a bed with a height that allows for easy transfers from the wheelchair. Consider an adjustable bed base for added convenience.
  • Closets and Storage: Utilize accessible closet systems. Sliding doors are easier to navigate than hinged ones. Install lower hanging rods and pull-out shelves for easy reach.
  • Nightstands and Desks: Opt for furniture with open space underneath to allow for wheelchairs to slide under for closer access.

Smart Use of Doors and Hardware

  • Lever handles: Replace doorknobs with lever handles for easier operation.
  • Pocket doors: Consider pocket doors for closets or bathrooms to save space and avoid swinging doors that can obstruct movement.
  • Automatic door openers (optional): While not essential, automatic door openers can add a layer of convenience and independence.

Lighting and Electrical Considerations

  • Lighting controls: Install dimmer switches and strategically placed light fixtures for easy on/off access from a seated position.
  • Electrical outlets: Ensure ample and well-placed electrical outlets for charging devices and powering assistive equipment.

What Crystals Should Not Be in Your Bedroom

Remember the Details: Creating a Functional & Stylish Space

  • Lowered thermostats and light switches: Placing light switches and thermostats at a lower level allows for easier control from a wheelchair.
  • Grab bars: Strategically placed grab bars near the bed, toilet (if the bathroom is located within the bedroom), and in the shower or bathtub (if applicable) can provide additional support and safety.
  • Flooring: Choose non-slip, easy-to-move-on flooring like laminate or wood. Avoid thick carpets that can be difficult to navigate with wheels.
  • Mirrors: Full-length mirrors placed strategically can make the room feel more spacious and allow for easier outfit changes from a seated position.

Beyond Functionality: Fostering a Positive Environment

Creating a wheelchair-accessible bedroom doesn’t mean sacrificing aesthetics! Decorate with personal touches, incorporate furniture and artwork that reflects the user’s style, and remember, good lighting and a well-chosen color palette can significantly impact the overall feel of the space.

Additional Resources:

For more in-depth information and specific measurements, consider consulting with a professional architect, occupational therapist, or contractor experienced in accessible design.

By following these tips and embracing universal design principles, you can create a beautiful, functional, and empowering bedroom that celebrates independence and fosters a positive living environment.

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About the author

Stephanie Cleghorn

Stephanie Cleghorn

Stephanie: A passionate writer, sharing stories and experiences that inspire. Exploring life's wonders through words. Join me on this extraordinary journey.

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