Maximising Mobility

Lead Architect, Mary Ong, discusses how key design elements can eliminate liveability issues across a multi-storey home. In focus, our HIA WA Liveable Home of the Year award winning home ‘Rob Roy’

Movement and Circulation

A few things to consider when designing a home are ease of circulation, which would include wider passageways, zero thresholds from indoor to outdoor and gentle ramping in lieu of a few stairs. Movement between floors can be via a lift, or chair lift on the stairs, making provisions for these early is critical. Ensure the staircase is wide enough to accommodate a chair lift.

If you are looking to purchase an already built home there are a few things to consider. Take note of any steps up/down from inside to outside which might cause problems. Open plan living is important for mobility and circulation is key, the width of corridors and also any tight corners in the home. Internal door widths can be narrow especially to rooms like powder rooms, laundries etc. Make sure you consider the size of the garage, and if once two cars are parked is there enough room to get in and out, and into the home. Another thing to consider is construction; timber frame walls are difficult to fix grab rails etc too if you need to install them in the future.

Flexibility and Provisions

In most homes that we design at Weststyle we have a master suite on the ground and the upper floor, allowing for future living requirements. This gives flexibility and provisions for future mobility. Home layouts that work for downsizers include open plan living, kitchen/living/dining all on the same level, whether that be ground/first/second. 

Weststyle have recently completed a clean, contemporary home in Swanbourne designed to accommodate a retired couple, one of which is in a wheelchair. The home is easy to move around in and easy to use. The open plan design maximises space in key areas of the home creating a comfortable home but not taking away from the edgy contemporary design. A few considerations included in this liveable design are nil-thresholds to doorways, large turning circle spaces and wide passageways. A lift was also installed for access to the upper floor.

In the master ensuite, a custom made towel rail, powder-coated matte black to match other features in the home, wraps through the ensuite and around into the shower. This piece doubles as a grab rail for the client and there is a matching grab rail in the toilet area. Other items in the client brief were having a separate retreat area with a kitchenette built in directly adjacent to the master suite on the upper floor.

Some comments from the owners:

“We loved working with an architect, builder and design team to make it FIT and get all that we wanted on a 409sqm block. Weststyle were understanding, and reassuring to a cautious, nervous client who wanted a modern uncluttered home with wide windows and a feeling of spaciousness everywhere. All design meetings were positive and stimulating with lots of scenarios before a conclusion was reached. Our dealing with Weststyle were friendly, welcoming and relaxed, never at any stage did I feel we were not all working towards a realistic positive outcome.”

“Functionally, we needed a home to provide an open plan design, lots of open space to move around with no obstacle. One large living area to be cosy for two people but will function as a space of large family dinners, BBQs, sundowners on the patio. A large master bedroom with practical wet areas to accommodate disabled facilities in a stylish modern design.”