Adaptable design is different in concept from universal design. Where universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities, adaptable design allows the home to be modified for a specific need. An example of adaptable design would be designing a two-story home with stacked closets a closet on the first floor directly below and aligned with a closet on the second floor so that a residential elevator or lift could easily be installed in the future. In contrast, a universal design item might be the installation of lever door handles that are easier to use for people who have lost the ability to grip a standard round door knob. These lever handles also benefit anyone who may have their hands full with groceries and want to release the door latch by using their forearm or elbow, for example. Children also have an easier time using lever door handles.
This type of design system is brilliant for sectionals: you can choose your sectionals to make the best possible use of the space in your room, including these awkward alcoves, corners and L-shapes. You will know in advance that your choice of furniture will fit perfectly, so you have no need to return anything that you cannot fit in! You can be certain that the correct traffic space is available between individual pieces - this is particularly important if a wheelchair is involved.
This is particularly the case if you have purchased a new home and want to decorate it to your own tastes. In such cases you can choose your style, begin with the wall-coverings and carpet, and then seek furniture to suit - or do it the other way around. Would it not be best to combine the two and use a furniture design service to select your furniture and home furnishings so that the results looks natural, well matched and balanced?
There are a couple of tools that a designer can use to evaluate the needs of their clients. One of those tools is the Comprehensive Assessment and Solution Process for Aging Residents (CASPAR). CASPAR was designed for healthcare professionals to evaluate their clients ability to carry out routine activities in the home. This is also useful in determining the requirements of people who have disabilities.
For example, the needs of a child and his / her ability to live comfortably in the home are rarely addressed at the design stage. Its necessary to evaluate the childs current abilities and design an environment that works and grows with the child. Some easy adaptive design elements would include adjustable shelves and rods in the closet. As the child grows, the shelves and rods can be moved to better accommodate their reach. Appliances present a similar situation as it is necessary for the controls to be accessible. Front mounted controls on washing machines and dryers enable their use. Safety also comes into play. A child trying to use a microwave placed overhead is a recipe for disaster! Of course, the above example is very simple, but it illustrates the point that design needs to be done from the perspective of the individual and his / her ability to carry out daily routines in the home. This is why a good designer will perform an assessment of the client and specify the needed design modifications.