We love a good kitchen reno: the Pinterest boards, the paint samples, the Instagram feeds full of possibilities. But it's easy to get so hung up on your dream look that you forget you're making it a reality—and reality means looking past the finishes. There are two words you need to think about before starting your next renovation, and they're not subway tile.
So, let's talk about universal design.
If you're thinking about renovating, you're already thinking about how you're going to use it, both now and in the future. That's universal design. Sometimes that means adaptations for disability or mobility challenges; but more fundamentally, it's about designing in a way that can be used by as many people in possible in a way that works seamlessly in its environment. (Props here to the architect Ron Mace who coined the term.) Think about the humble curb cut, quietly helping you every time you step off a sidewalk.
Universal design shows up in the well-designed home, too. It shows up when a space not only looks good but also functions well for the people in it. It adapts to suit your household's ever-changing size, age and ability—and looks great doing it.
Take the kitchen: we spend a lot of time looking at them here at Apartment Therapy (these stunning pics are all from New York House Tours), and we've noticed that the happiest people are those who have thought about both how they use them now and how they will in the future. Whether you're rehabbing a Brooklyn brownstone or a gutting a Midtown co-op, just because we're a city full of takeout lovers doesn't mean the kitchen is all style and no substance.
Do you need kid-friendly cupboards? Easy-to-reach storage? Focused lighting? No-slip protection? Counters of varying heights? Even something as simple as installing pullout shelves in cabinets can make the kitchen more universal. You might not see them in pictures of other people's homes, but you'll appreciate them the first time you need one of those lesser-used spices that nestle toward the back of shelf.
There are myriad possibilities that universal design can address unobtrusively and seamlessly—and they're not all necessarily obvious when you're building those mood boards. A contractor who understands universal design can make a huge difference.
Bolster is a new kind of general contractor. Their NYC-based team works with you throughout the entire renovation process, from the initial consultation and fun mood-board phase through sketches, compliance and construction. They help you think about how those Pin-worthy ideas can align with your needs, not just today but decades down the line. Plus, they execute projects as promised and deliver radically transparent bids, so you know just where your money is going—to top-quality intelligent design.
This post is sponsored by Bolster and was made by the Apartment Therapy Creative Studio.
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