The more eagle-eyed amongst you will notice I’ve changed these posts from A Conversation With – to Accessible Home Tours – because we all love a home tour!
This week we are chatting with Lee, the insta-fab Lee’s Reno and his home in Preston is really fantastic, the transformation from blah to BOOM is amazing! If you don’t follow Lee already, then hop on over and give him a follow.
So, let’s get going…
WCH: Can you share a little more about the disabled person in your home?
Lee: I have a condition called Desmin Myofibrillar Myopathy, a rare type of muscular dystrophy, typically affects adults from the age of 20+
WCH: How does this disability impact your home?
Lee: My father also had the condition so if there are any positives, it’s the benefit of hindsight. I moved into a bungalow just before I started to struggle and had it extended and renovated throughout.
A large extension to the side created a spacious open plan kitchen/dining/living space. The previous kitchen was split in half to create a large en-suite wet room/bathroom and separate guest shower room. The previous bathroom provided the extension of the hallway to the new kitchen and a useful storage cupboard.
The work was quite expensive and I had to ensure that the home would face whatever challenges I faced physically so step free access and zero threshold into the property and level floors throughout. Wider doorways to accommodate a wheelchair and ability to turn around, and higher sockets and lower switches, again to suit a wheelchair.
I also invested in Smart Tech utilising Google Home and have this linked to Google Nest thermostats controlling the heating, TV, Sonos sound system around the house, lights, door latch and lock and doorbell. The cost of the renovations and technology has sometimes been a premium but is essential to give me comfort and longevity in my home.
WCH: How do you incorporate or disguise the adaptations and equipment into your home and lovely Instagram feed?!
Lee: Sometimes disabled equipment is ugly, take for example the en-suite, I need a little assistance to lift myself up. Some may have a floor to ceiling pole and bar installed but I ensured that the vanity unit was well secured and acts in the same way a grab rail does.
The doorways are wider but this isn’t noticeable to me as I grew up in new builds where the wider doorways were standard downstairs. I minimised steps and ramps to remove the need for grab rails and where there are ramps these are done over a distance to reduce the incline to make it safer and less noticeable.
WCH: Do you have any great tips for furniture buying, room design or planning that helps with the disability?
Lee: I would say don’t overfill rooms, space is essential for a disabled person so minimise clutter and obstacles. Know what you want and stick to it “step free access” was an absolute must!
I hunted high and low for a door that would allow step free access. Part M (UK Accessibility Building Regs) compliant rules recommends a lip up to 10mm so you have to look for ones that have a sill that can be flush mounted.
Think about how you will use the space. My island and kitchen is the perfect distance that I can hold on to both surfaces to move around when cooking. The oven is waist height to minimise bending down and a large pull out larder means food is all in one place and again avoids bending down or rummaging in cupboards.
Chairs with arms are almost essential for me now to help me stand so I make sure there’s always chairs with high arms to suit me and remove the need for lifting cushions, frames or posts.
WCH: What’s been the trickiest thing to deal with in the home to make it accessible?
Lee: As previously mentioned the front door was so difficult but essential. I’m 35 years old with a difficult disability and needed it to be worry free but also stylish. I wanted my friends to look at my home and say “wow! This is nice” not “this is really functional for your needs”. The latter is important but it doesn’t need to be the thing everyone notices.
WCH: What’s been your best find for the home?
Lee: I’d probably say that the industrial style has helped me enormously. In my kitchen is a 2nd hand tan leather sofa, it’s from John Lewis and made by Tetrad and I paid £132 on eBay for it. It’s cushions are really well padded so it’s easier to stand from and it’s naturally worn so it takes any knocks or marks and it just adds to the character and look of the overall room.
WCH: What would you say to an architect or interior designer to help them in designing an accessible space?
Lee: Don’t overfill it and don’t over complicate the space. Less is more. Don’t squeeze a 3rd bedroom in for the sake of it and make lots of tight spaces. Think how the space will be used and how it might need to be adapted for the future.
In my case a 3rd bedroom was aspirational but not at the detriment to having small rooms that would be difficult in a wheelchair. I only have 2 bedrooms but both are decent sizes and the master has ample room for a hoist if required and bed position is directly opposite the en-suite.
My architect also increased the en-suite in size and reduced the main bathroom to a shower room. It’s a double shower and still looks great but ultimately this is for guests or maybe carers in the future who aren’t likely to have a bath – and my needs come first so I got the majority of the space and a double shower/wet room with a bath at the other side!
Thanks to Lee for chatting to me – I totally love his home, the external transformation is nothing short of spectacular and his style is uncluttered and uncomplicated. I love also how he has incorporated Smart Tech into his home to help with every day things. I wrote a little about that in my Smart Tech post – and there’s also some video in Lee’s Instagram Story Highlights if you want more information on that.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget, if you’d like to feature please let me know!