Curb cuts that blend into sidewalks.

Automatic doors at stores, restaurants, and other public buildings.

Closed captioning on our favorite TV shows and movies.

Voice assistants and speech-to-text.

While we may not realize it – because these features are so fully integrated into our lives – these are all examples of universal design. Your cabinets can (and should!) be next on this list of everyday elements that enhance access, functionality, and experience.

What Is Universal Design?

Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood, and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.” The Centre for Excellence In Universal Design

Think of a space that can be accessed and utilized by both toddlers navigating the new world around them as well as their grandparents navigating changes in mobility and flexibility. This is the crux of Universal Design. The philosophy is a bit different from those of accessibility and aging-in-place in that it considers both current and future needs. This is a big advantage given that one in five Americans live in multi-generational households, and the “trend” is only gaining steam.

Whether you live in a home with your children and your parents or you are planning for your future and maximizing your remodeling budget, Universal Design is a solution that works for… well, everyone.

MOX Cabinetry’s Approach to Universal Design

Our products are crafted with character and designed for life. Your life – and those of your household members – as it is now and as it could look down the road. “Durability” is more nuanced for us. Yes, we make products that last, but we also make solutions that can evolve with you.

While shower grab bars, wider doorways, lower countertops, and non slip flooring immediately come to mind, Universal Design can also encompass your cabinetry. After all, you open your cabinets just about as often as a teenager opens their phone (or,  let’s face it: we adults open our phones!). MOX incorporates these principles into our custom solutions in a variety of ways, including:

Accessible Storage Options. You can never have too much storage – but that space can be put to better – more accessible – use. For example, we can seamlessly integrate organizational solutions from top manufacturers, such as roll-out shelves, pull-out waste and recycling bins, pull-out baskets, lazy susans, tiered spice racks, pull-out pantry frames, and more. This makes accessing your essentials much easier for the youngest to the oldest members of your home – and everyone in between.

Bonus: You won’t lose your favorite hot honey or dried basil because everything is easy to organize, find… and access.

Adjustable Shelving. Innovations like iMove pull-down shelving ensures staples are at your fingertips. Gently pull on the handle to lower the shelf. It stays put when loaded so you can access everything from pots and pans to sugar and flour (the iMove holds up to 18 pounds). Slide it just as easily back up when you’re done. This is great for those impossible-to-reach upper cabinets – but for those with mobility and strength issues, those who use a wheelchair, and those who are shorter and/or younger – it is a complete game-changer.

Ergonomic Hardware. Many people don’t give cabinet hardware a thought after they consider aesthetics. We do. Manipulating doors and drawers can be difficult for folks with mobility challenges, arthritis, and other issues. Opting for a D-shaped pull, for example, is an effective way to enhance usability and access. Larger pulls (at least 3 inches) and have a higher profile (i.e. more space between the hardware and the cabinet face) also help.

Another benefit here is that you can install locks on these handles easily, keeping cleaning supplies, medications, and other potentially hazardous items out of the hands of children and other vulnerable household members/guests.

Rethinking Conventional Cabinets. Where do the glasses and dishes go? Usually, they’re stored in the upper cabinets. But… they really don’t have to be. By adding more drawers with storage inserts, you can “rehome” these items, which can be heavy or hard to reach, to bottom/lower cabinets.

Another Universal Design idea you can adopt for your home is including recesses in your lower cabinets. For example, in front of the sink, prep area, and cooktop, the cabinetry can be set back so it’s not flush with the countertop/worktop. This allows those with wheelchairs or other mobility aids much better access. And a lot more independence.

Live Your Life

By considering all aspects of cabinetry, including the space needed to approach the units, the ability to open and close doors and drawers, the logistics of reaching for items, and overall use, we craft products that virtually anyone can use, regardless of age, size, mobility, and dexterity. No one has to feel left out or “other.” Everyone can use and enjoy their environment, and Universal Design (and MOX) ensures they can do so seamlessly, naturally, and comfortably.

Our everyday lives are enriched by Universal Design, touching everything  from building access to on-screen entertainment. MOX can help enhance your home, and your experience within it, by applying these principles thoughtfully, intentionally, and with the quality that is our hallmark.

Connect with MOX Cabinetry to discuss your needs and goals.