5 Tips for styling your house to accommodate a disability

There’s a lot of bloggers out there looking at interiors, or looking at disability and the lifestyle impacts or issues can come up.  However, what I want to do in my blog is try to find the right blend of interiors and styling that can work WITH a disability.  I realise it’s a niche area, but one I hope I can grow over time and I have some ideas for designs that I’d love to try and bring to reality.

For those who haven’t seen why this is my niche, check out my posts The Journey of a Budding Blogger and Design, Disability and Decor.  The second post here, Design, Disability and Decor starts the discussion a little bit on how Mr Wheel Chics Home’s disability impacts how we can design our home and I’ve tried to focus in a little more with my posts on Rug ShoppingSofa Shopping and Bed Shopping.

I think the Interiors business and designers are missing a trick here.  There’s a section of society who have to live in houses with disability aids that means it looks like they live in a care home rather than their home.  There’s a section of society who want a lovely home but need some additional things to help them – and they would like something that’s stylish.

I recognise that not every one has the means to buy stylish things.  Those disabled people who are unable to work have to rely on council grants to convert their homes to help them and thus the cheapest option is usually what they get given.  I know these products are tested and are robust but they are a reminder of your disability rather than trying to find something to be more inkeeping with someone’s home.

There are a number of other options that could be suitable for people with mobility problems that can help the aesthetics of your home if you’re looking to stay on trend with interior decor.

*NOTE – the tips I am about to give are ones that suit my personal situation and they may not be suitable for everyone with a disability.  I’m trying to help you look at non-conventional options to help give your home a little style.  Please ensure you check that any non conventional options are strong enough and are the right option for you.*

(1) Look for unconventional options for seating or transform the more conventional:

In this post I discuss how we found a solid iron tractor seat for Mr WCH to use when preparing dinner, cooking, and eating breakfast up at the kitchen counter.  It’s proved to be so useful and all our guests love it.  Compare a standard seat from a disability supplier (£26) vs our seat (£80).  The standard option is cheap, robust, fit for purpose and safety tested. It’s a good product and functional, but looks pretty ugly.  Perhaps you could zhush it up by spray painting the legs in copper or gold to match your scheme and throw a sheepskin over the seat?

Photo Credit – Left picture – http://www.completecare.co.uk.  Right picture – mine.

Fo something a little different, I came across this saddle seating from Bambach the other day and whilst there are no prices on their website, (each piece is custom) you can get a 30 day free trial.  You will have seen these at your dentist or hairdressers – easy to sit and scoot around on.  You can get different shape seats, over 30 different colours of vinyls, leather and fabric, even a sheepskin cover!  You can get different types of castors and even a back or arm to help you support you if you need it.  This is the kind of design we need to think about for disabled interiors nerds!  I’ve saved this link for future as it may be needed in our kitchen at some point.  For now, our tractor seat is perfect.

(2) Hunt around for Sexy Grab Rails:

Grab rails have to be functional. They have to hold the weight of a person – so you can’t skimp on this.  You can get the white plastic ones (we have one that we’ll use by the back door against the white kitchen wall so it’s invisible!) and you can get plenty of Chrome or brass or bright colours.  You can get square ones, round ones and wavy ones.  In this post I talk about the grab rails we’ve chosen in the bathroom, including a brilliant and sexy loo roll holder that’s completely inconspicuous as a grab rail.  See how doing a little searching you can find something to go with your scheme:

Photo Credit: Left picture – http://www.argos.co.uk.  Right Picture – mine.

(3) Look for inventive storage options:

In the house, Mr WCH uses crutches to get around.  These are a PAIN in the **** to have around because you lean them against the wall and inevitably they’ll fall over.  Followed by the yell from Mr WCH along the lines of “eff these bloody crutches” (or words to that effect.  It varies from time to time, you’ll have to use your imagination!).  He has very groovy ergonomic German Carbon Fibre crutches (sigh, boys and their Carbon Fibre!) but they fall over every day when left leaning against kitchen counter or living room wall.  Also the black rubber handles mark the walls which is also ruining my interiors vibe.  So I’ve come up with a great option to keep them upright.  An umbrella stand.  BRILLIANT! I’m really pleased with that idea.  *pats oneself on the back*.  The only thing to be aware of is the height of the stand, as the crutches are longer it might become top heavy and topple over, so try and get something as tall as you can.  We had some John Lewis vouchers for Christmas so have got this one, and it’s working out really well:

(4) Make sure your furniture is strong enough to withstand the bumps and knocks

You may have heard me drivel on about the living room makeover which has now started (HURRAY!) with the new windows having finally been fitted.  So now it’s time for the little bit of building works, just need to get our builder booked in.  Anyway, as part of the makeover I’m looking for a circular coffee table.  Circular for a couple of reasons, (1) no sharp corners for Mr WCH to land on when he falls over, which is a lot and (2) I’d like a little more space so he can get the wheelchair around it to the sofa when he uses the chair.

I’m struggling to find a great round coffee table that’s strong enough to withstand him leaning on it to get off the floor and he sometimes needs to sit on it when trying to get up off the floor (he does stretching exercises on the floor as well, he doesn’t fall over that often!).  So, no glass or long spindly legs on the table!  Most round coffee tables don’t appear to have the stability that I’m looking for that also is a modern style.  The hunt continues – if you have any ideas please contact me!

The dining table is also an issue for us.  It’s about 8 years old and has wobbly legs.  Like the husband.  When he sits at the table he leans on it and the legs move a little so I’m looking for something more durable.  I’ll be writing separate posts for the coffee and dining tables once I’ve chosen something.

(5) Furniture Placement – Make sure you have enough space to get around

When I attended the Abigail Ahern Masterclass she mentioned that to keep interest in the home don’t push all the furniture to the edge of the room or have a straight path from one end of the room to the other.  I love this idea, but practically might be challenging for Mr WCH as he struggles to walk in a straight line, let alone around stuff.  Also our rooms are fairly small and we need to keep room for wheelchair turning space!

The main thing for us to make sure things aren’t going to get in his way, so I’m afraid I do have straight line access, which the exception of spare room and the coffee table in living room.

So the dining area in the kitchen has the table pushed back to the wall when it’s just the two of us.  This means he can walk past it to the back door.  If we have guests we move it out from the wall.

I’ll continue to write about these things in more detail on the blog as I come up with creative solutions to allow me to keep my interiors vibe but help him as well.  Have you come across anything interesting?  I’d love to hear about it!

6 thoughts on “5 Tips for styling your house to accommodate a disability

  1. I totally agree with you! There’s a huge gap in the market for accessible products that look like they belong in a family home and not a hospital, and so many mainstream products that can perform other functions (like your umbrella stand/ crutches stand!) that retailers are missing out on!
    Thank you so much for joining #AccessLinky I hope you’ll link up again as I’m looking forward to seeing lots more ideas!
    Let’s spread the love for stylish inclusive design!

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