Universal Design and Appeal

iman_woods_durham-4776According to Professional Builders Magazine, the average age for first-time home buyers is thirty-one. This exciting and pivotal milestone merits excitement and celebration! But more often than not, asking ourselves if our new dream home will accommodate us and our family for many years to come simply doesn’t happen. We certainly don’t want to buy a house, only to realize our home can no longer adapt to our changing needs.

Letting us incorporate universal design into your home is the solution! What is universal design, you ask? Minor modifications and layouts in your home that will insure functionality and livability for years to come. Here are some features and modifications we can gladly add to your beautiful abode.

  • No-step entryway into home
  • Hand rails at all entries with steps
  • Motion sensor lights at all entries
  • All door openings with a 34″ for width minimum
  • Open floor plans
  • Low pile carpeting with level thresholds
  • Master bedroom and  laundry room on first floor
  • Front loading washer and dryer
  • Door lever handles vs. door knobs throughout home

In your kitchen alone, there are so many features we can incorporate with little changes in appearance while adding a high degree of functionality for all.

  • Microwave drawers vs. over the stove
  • Base cabinets with pullout shelves for easy reach
  • Lever handled kitchen sink faucet
  • 6-1/2″ deep basin sink
  • Retractable cabinet doors
  • Staggered countertops
  • Side-by-side refrigerator or countertop fridge
  • Accessible electrical outlets in the cabinets vs. on the walls

A basement laundry room, second floor master bedroom, jacuzzi and spiral staircase may all wow us today, but will inevitably become obstacles in our daily lives and routines. Universal design blankets everyone who passes through your doorway no matter their age, size or ability. CQC Home is skilled in providing a seamless and invisible transformation. Please connect with our award winning designer for more information.


Bathroom Must-Haves

The demand for more comfort, space and technology is on the rise in bathrooms. Manufacturers are listening and responding with savvy, must-have features. We’ve composed a list of the most popular amenities on the market.

Electric Radiant Floor Heating

Placing your feet on a toasty warm floor on a cold morning — what a great way to start your day! We can install this floor heating system under most any flooring, but recommend engineered hardwoods as they are more dimensionally stable (less movement) and better able to withstand moisture and temperature variations than solid woods. Porcelain, stone and ceramic tiles are also perfect flooring choices as they do not expand and contract with heat, and are resistant to warping or cracking. Heat emitting throughout your floor’s surface improves the warmth throughout the entire room, boosting energy efficiency. This can bring significant savings on your monthly electric bill.

Electric Towel Warmers

Staying with the toasty theme, this feature will not only keep you warm after a nice hot bath or shower, it will also dry your damp towels and keep your surroundings clean and mildew free. Rails come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and are practical, as well as stylish. Get creative with your new rails and dry delicate garments, lingerie and bathing suits. Why not even warm your mittens, gloves, earmuffs, scarves and winter coats before heading out the door? The possibilities are endless!

Steam Showers

There are multiple perks in having us install a steam shower. The moist heat reduces your blood pressure by widening your blood vessels, and improves your overall circulation. Relief can also be found by the steam opening up your sinus passages. It also relaxes your muscles while ridding your body of toxins and metabolic waste. Twenty minutes of steam per week can help improve your skin’s tone and clarity. Last but not least, endorphins are released in your brain during a steam shower experience to help you relax mentally and emotionally.

Handheld Shower Heads

Who enjoys cleaning their shower? Not anyone I know. With this feature it makes the task much easier. Bathing small kids or your pets can become a breeze, as well. With the option of multiple settings and detaching the shower head from the wall, you gain mobility of the water and can adjust the pressure to clean even the lowest of spots on the floor. If there are any physical limitations or limited mobility, these shower heads are absolutely essential in making showering effortless. These gadgets also conserve water and energy!

iman-woods-8463Humidity-Sensing Fans

These fans have a built-in sensor that activate them when the humidity rises in the bathroom. It then automatically turns them off after a programmed period of time. This is a tremendous aid in removing excess moisture from the air, helping prevent damage to walls and ceilings. Even if flipping the switch before entering the shower slips your mind, your fan will turn on. This will reduce the chance of mold and mildew growth, as well. And who doesn’t like it when life is made just a bit easier?

Shower Lighting

Adding shower lighting can help prevent slips and falls by increasing visibility. This feature also helps improve your overall health and well-being. Many brands offer lighting to generate balance, wellness and energy. LED shower heads are available that change colors depending on the temperature of the water, promoting safety and entertainment for children and adults alike.

One-Piece Toilets

Since these toilets are smaller than two-piece toilets, installing them in smaller bathrooms helps conserve space. The feature that most consumers are grateful for is the connected tank. Fewer nooks and crevasses makes cleaning this toilet a cinch! Young children and those with limited mobility appreciate that the handles and height are lowered. Plus, being made of one stable piece of ceramic increases the durability for years to come.

Smart Toilet Seats with Integrated Bidet Features

These smart toilets do everything you can think of except talk! Hands-free flushing, an automated lid that opens and closes, a seat warmer, adjustable two-nozzle water spray system and an integrated air dryer. There is even a night light and a massage feature, just in case you were wondering! Luxury is a bit pricey, but this doesn’t seem to be keeping consumers at bay.

Having us up the ante on some or all of your bathroom features will create a daily spa experience for you, and leave your guests singing your bathroom praises!


Beautifully Accessible

Are the elements in your bathroom accessible as well as aesthetically pleasing?

Did you know that more than 2/3 of injuries that take place in the bathroom result in a visit to the emergency room? More frightening, a majority of these falls occur while the person is fully conscious! Estimates show that falls in the bathroom amount to over $67.3 billion in lifetime medical expenses. These numbers point to the fact that most homes are not equipped with the modifications needed to prevent these unfortunate injuries, and the costs and pain associated with them. Consumers, however, are very concerned about installing features in their homes that look “institutional”. Or feel that nobody in their household would benefit from having theses modifications. In reality all demographics are affected by bathroom related injuries. Here are some features we can implement in your bathroom without sacrificing aesthetics.

Inlay tile

This slip-resistant tile can prevent dangerous falls! They’re also very low maintenance since there is no grout that needs to be cleaned. Additionally, the surface is smooth and optimal for anyone in the household who may have issues with balance or mobility (uses a wheelchair or walker).

iman_woods_durham-4776Curbless Shower

Whether there are mobility issues or not, an open shower is an area large enough to accommodate couples or even a caregiver who may need to assist someone. Wheelchairs effortlessly enter and exit this universal style shower. There’s also less of a chance of tripping over the threshold while entering or exiting.

Grab Bars

They come in many different finishes and styles that will add pizazz to any bathroom. Multi-functional, they can be used to insure stability or double as towel bars.

Wall-Mounted Shower Seat

These seats can be a sight for sore eyes after a long day. Take a load off on this convenient seat as warm water soothes away tension and stress! It also can assure safety, independence, and comfort for anyone with disabilities or needs assistance. After use, some models have a lift-up feature to free up valuable space.

Lowered Countertop

Having a lowered countertop with an open space underneath has many benefits in the bathroom. And the space underneath gives added storage. For example, a step stool for the little ones whose daily tasks of hand washing and teeth brushing becomes easier with the lowered countertop. This modification is also beneficial for wheelchair users who will have more independence with the clearance underneath the sink.

We can help you visualize and create an accessible remodel without having to sacrifice design aesthetics. A safer bathroom environment is something needed in every home!

In The News: CQC Aging in Place


From Durham Magazine, April 2016

(click to enlarge photo)

Our very own Caroline Redding Crenshaw is a fabulous designer and colleague, but did you know she’s a certified expert in Aging in Place? If you’re like us, you’ve been hearing a lot about Aging in Place (AIP). The definition we like to use at CQC is: a person living in the residence of his/her choice, for as long as he or she is able, as they age. This includes the ability to have needed services or support in the home over time.

 The AARP points out that a majority of seniors wish to stay in their homes as they age. As the Triangle has become a popular retirement destination, more and more families will have the same wish.

Caroline and three other CQC staff members are all CAPS-certified (Certified Aging in Place)  and Universal Design specialists who can advise you at any phase of life. Wouldn’t it be smart, when planning a home renovation, to talk to us about how to accommodate Aging in Place features down the road?

Caroline recently shared with Durham Magazine her thoughts about how to plan without having to compromise on aesthetics. As you can see from the photo, the beautiful CQC kitchen pictured doesn’t look like the drab image some of us think of when we hear “accessible.”

Congratulations to Caroline on her Durham Magazine debut. If you’re interested in talking about anything related to Aging in Place or Universal Design, contact us today.