Interior Designers and Universal Design

Interior Designers are often called “Interior Decorators”. There is a difference; decorators may be in charge of selecting furniture and colors, but designers are trained to provide a safe and comfortable environment for their clients. I would like to discuss with you why designers care about your health, safety, and welfare.

First of all, I would like to define each of the terms. Health includes the indoor air quality and multiple chemical sensitivity (a sensitivity to numerous chemicals found in various buildings, including homes). Safety is needed to protect you from fires, and codes are followed to provide accessibility in your home. To look out for your welfare, they will follow guidelines for Universal, multigenerational, and sustainable design.

Designers need to specify the suitable materials for their clients’ interiors to provide a healing environment, not a harmful one. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are found in many building materials, such as carpets, paints and stains, vinyl, upholstery fabrics, and more. The effects of VOCs can be eye and nose irritation, headaches, nausea, and the long-term effects include cancer, liver damage, and kidney damage. Designers can help prevent these effects by specifying products with low or no VOCs, and by making sure there is plenty of ventilation when the products are installed.

By knowing the appropriate building codes, fire codes, and accessibility codes, Designers can specify the correct materials and provide adequate exits. This helps to save lives. By simply following these codes, they are able to keep their clients safe.

Designers encourage their clients to build or remodel their home so that they can age in place. Universal Design ensures that anyone, from the elderly to the disabled, will be able to easily navigate and utilize a space on their own. Sustainable and recyclable materials will be specified so they don’t end up in a landfill. This is often called “green design”.

Ways to incorporate Universal Design include:

  • Choosing slip-resistant materials
  • Changing door handles and faucets to levers
  • Adding grab bars to baths and showers
  • Changing toilets to comfort height
  • Widening doors to make them wheelchair accessible and ensuring adequate clearance for turning
  • Specifying higher furniture with firm seats and armrests to help with getting up
  • Lowering light switches and raising outlets

Interior Design is not only about aesthetic appeal; it is also about the well being of the people. It is about combining beauty and safety. Designers are able to create beauty in a way that supports your health, safety, and welfare.