V. HOUSES (including kitchens, bathrooms, location, ramps, doors)

My advice

Design – simple, practical, thoughtful, get advice

Location – pushing distance to work, play, and services

My experience

I lived in a residential college at university in my first year after getting out of rehab, then a year at my sisters house, then I bought an old three bedroom house in a country town, now I live in an apartment in a tower in the CBD. I also rented a house one year and rented an apartment one year.

This means I have lived in a few different styles of home, and gone through the renovation/modification process several times. In particular I have done both the minimalist cheap version of the home modification process, and the full-on do-everything version, a few times.

The key issue for me is location. I have found that for me to be happy I have to live within pushing distance of work, recreation and services. So when I am choosing a place to live location is my top priority. If that means I need to live in a small place because that is all I can afford near work then that is what I choose.

My second priority is sun. I have also found that I cannot be happy unless I can sit in the sun at home at times when I need to.

Having found a place in the right location and with enough sunlight I then modify it so I can function independently.

When I was renting, and when I first bought a place, I only wanted to do the minimal amount of modifications necessary for financial reasons. To do this I choose places with flat paths of travel in, and with roll-in showers.

At other times I have been willing to spend more money and as a result I have done a full renovation. In these cases what I do is:

  • Entry – make any changes required to ensure I can get in and out easily. Often this requires a new deck or a new driveway to gain easy access via the back door as often access via the front would be very expensive or difficult to arrange
  • Bathroom – remove the old bathroom and replace with a simple tiled room that has a toilet in one corner, a shower in another, washing machine in another and vanity in another
  • Kitchen – remove the kitchen and replace it with a three sided space. One side is a wall of cupboards, principally made up of drawers. One side is a bench with a combination microwave/conventional oven, and a chopping/preparation space. The third side is usually another bench with the sink and one or two other appliances on top and nothing underneath. The fourth side is the entrance
  • Floor – replace the carpets with wood throughout, although any hard surface would be fine
  • Doors – modify any doors I need to so I can open them easily. On occasions I have changed doors into sliding doors, or reversed the way they open, or turned them upside down so the handles are low enough, or changed the handles from knobs to D handles


kitchen – cook top, work bench, oven, sink all adjacent



bathroom – simple clear space



Here’s what the experts say

CLICK HERE for a video of a quad showing you her house modifications, which are very similar to mine

CLICK HERE for a big long list of design ideas and products to improve the accessibility of your home courtesy of the NSW Independent Living Centre

Rule number 22 – You don’t need to put up with anything difficult in your house, just get it fixed


2 comments on “V. HOUSING

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