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Maximising mobility | The West Australian

A two-storey home is not often associated with mobility and ease of living. However, with recent advances in technology and its affordability, staying active across multiple floors has never been easier.

Weststyle Lead Architect Mary Ong said key design elements could eliminate liveability issues across a multi-storey home.

“One thing to consider when designing a home is ease of circulation, which would include wider passageways, zero thresholds from indoor to outdoor and gentle ramping in lieu of a few stairs,” she said.

“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.”

Brian Burke Homes Group Managing Director Michael Burke said if access and mobility were a concern, a lift was not an unrealistic consideration.

With all the main living spaces on the bottom level,  the second storey is only used as needed in this Applecross home.
Camera IconWith all the main living spaces on the bottom level, the second storey is only used as needed in this Applecross home. Credit: Refined Edge by Brian Burke Homes.

“Lifts are no longer only for the mega-mansions,” he said. “We have included lifts in many builds under $1 million, including a Subiaco townhouse for a couple that wanted the smaller footprint with complete accessibility,” he said.

Another recommendation from Mr Burke was choosing land which suited your needs.

“Sloping blocks can work in your favour,” he said. “One client designed two garages and entry points for their double-storey home that sits on a sloping corner block.

“The rear garage sits up on the higher end of the block and is their day-to-day garage, opening into the second storey.”

“This part of the home is used daily and includes the kitchen, dining and living spaces, plus the main bedroom suite and laundry, he said.

“Being on the second storey and a well-selected block, their alfresco-balcony looks right over into the trees and greenery of Lake Karrinyup Country Club instead of the road.

“The second garage comes off the street on the lower part of their block, opening up to the ground floor which includes studies and spare bedrooms. The two levels are connected by a light-filled staircase and discrete lift.”

Mr Burke said layouts were often designed for convenience as much as mobility.

“We have a downsizer couple that is still very active, but no longer desires the larger footprint they had with their family home,” he said.

“They have the ground floor which has everything they need, with the second floor housing the spare bedrooms and bathroom for guests and grandkids and a separate TV zone. This allows the upstairs area to be sectioned off from the main home, reducing the regular cleaning routine and need to go up and down stairs.”

According to Ms Ong, a recent Weststyle custom home in Swanbourne was designed to accommodate a retired couple, one of whom is in a wheelchair.

“The home is easy to move around in and easy to use,” she said. “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.”

Elements used to create this liveable design included nil-thresholds to doorways, large turning circle spaces, wide passageways and a lift.

For those looking to purchase an already-built home, Ms Ong said there were a few things to consider.

“Take note of any steps up or down from inside to outside which might cause problems,” she said.

“Open-plan living is important for mobility and circulation is key. Consider the width of corridors and also any tight corners in the home. Internal door widths can be narrow, especially to rooms like powder rooms and laundries.

“Make sure you consider the size of the garage – if two cars are parked, is there enough room to get in and out, and into the home?”

Ms Ong said further consideration should be given to construction. For example, it is difficult to affix grab rails to a timber-framed wall if these are needed in future, she said.

Mr Burke also had one final tip.

“Make sure you follow the service recommendations for any mobility items in your home – such as your lift – as you don’t want them breaking down,” he said.

CONTACT

Weststyle, 9345 1565, www.weststyle.com.au

Brian Burke Homes, 9387 7333, www.brianburkehomes.com.au

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