Are you looking to fill an accessible house with furniture?
Are you thinking ahead for your own home, or maybe assisting your parents to downsize?
The furniture you choose can help make a home accessible, comfortable and safe, by improving the traffic flow and making it easier to move around. A better visual and physical flow can make your home feel bigger and brighter.
Some pieces of accessible furniture could also be considered multi-purpose. They may have more than one function such as added storage, height adjustable, or have additional features like built-in lights or surface that changes position.
What to look for in a piece of furniture
- Storage. Who doesn’t need extra storage? This will reduce clutter and help keep useful things within reach. There is a wide range of options these days which includes ottomans with hinged lids, beds with drawers underneath, side tables and coffee tables with multiple shelves or drawers, window seats with storage, or how about this side table from Denhaus.com where you pet can sleep in.
Adjustable height. There are coffee tables (and nightstands) where the top hinges up and over to where you are seated. These would be great for eating at while watching tv and for working on your laptop from your comfy chair. If you like to work in bed here is a great DIY how to on building a rolling bed table.
- Sturdy chairs. They need to be solid pieces that are heavy enough not to move when you are trying to get in or out of them. Make sure they are not too low or too deep. Soft squishy seats may feel fantastic to sink into, but can be tricky to get out of. We prefer sofas and chairs with backs that are part of the frame and not the loose cushion type as they are a hassle to keep fluffed and in place. They also seem to promote bad posture. Should the chair have arms? Well, that all depends on your own needs. Some people transferring from a wheelchair may find the chair arms get in the way but others with bad balance or tricky knees and hips may really appreciate being able to use the arms for support. The height of the arms in relation to the seat height is a very important factor to keep in mind. Arms that are too high or too low won’t offer any help at all.
- Corner-less furniture. There is a wide range of circular or oval dining, kitchen and coffee tables as well as those with rounded-off square corners. Fewer corners will allow for easier movement around your home without the worry of bruising yourself on pointed edges. There are also many arm chairs and dining chairs that have rounded backs. Round tables will make you feel and look less lonely if you are sitting alone at one. Just ask Starbucks.
Floating furniture. These are pieces that are attached to the wall and therefore have no legs. Floating furniture keeps rooms looking airier and larger and makes cleaning under them very easy. You can find this type of furniture as dressers, nightstands, buffets and tv stands, and more. TIP: Make sure to leave a clearance of at least 12in/30cm from the floor to the bottom of the piece of furniture, for wheelchair clearance. A piece of floating furniture might make the difference between achieving that important 60in/1.5m maneuvering circle or not having a wheelchair friendly space. Maybe you have a narrow entry hall where you could use a seat or ledge for bags, but a permanent piece would take up too much space? Take a look at the Klappsitz folding seat and imagine where you could use it.
- Floor lamp with integrated task light. These do double duty as a way to light up the room with the upward directed light and if placed behind your favorite chair, will illuminate your reading or knitting.
Look for pieces that incorporate a little something extra like storage or adjustability. If you have to choose between drawers or shelves we would always go for drawers. Full-extension drawers are the best as they enable you to fit more items in and to find things more easily, again.
When you are out shopping for furniture next time, take a look around the showroom and try to think outside the box for ways to incorporate a multi-purpose piece. Maybe that great side table could be used as a nightstand or that adjustable coffee table would be a great play desk for the grandchildren when they are visiting.