Extension News

Do You Have a Welcoming Home?


by Mary Yearns
Housing Specialist
Iowa State University Extension

It’s easy to overlook the home fix-it projects until you’re cooped up inside during the dark days of winter. Besides the touch-up painting, consider whether you need bigger changes to create a more welcoming home. Overnight guests - especially those who use wheelchairs - will enjoy their stay more if you have a no-step entrance, a bedroom or sleeping area and a full-sized bathroom on the main level.

No-step entrance
A home with a no-step entrance makes it easy to carry groceries, move furniture or push a baby stroller through the doorway. You’ll be glad you don’t have to climb exterior steps during icy winters. There are many attractive ways to create a no-step entrance without building a ramp - even on an older home. Get a copy of The Welcoming Home, ISU Extension publication PM 1804, for details.

Bedroom or sleeping area on main level
A bedroom or sleeping area on the main level is convenient for guests who aren’t able to climb stairs and is a good place for family members to recuperate following an injury or illness. If you don’t have a bedroom on the main level, consider how an office or family room might double as a guest bedroom with the use of a sofa bed.

Full-sized bathroom on main level
A full-sized bathroom on the main level is a must. A skimpy powder room won’t work for guests who use walkers or wheelchairs. At a minimum, guests will need a five-foot circle of open floor space for maneuvering a wheelchair between bathroom fixtures. A shower stall will be more convenient than a tub for most guests. Make sure the bathroom door is at least 32 inches wide, preferably 36 inches.

Universal Design Learning Laboratory
If it’s hard for you to visualize changes, visit the Universal Design Leaning Laboratory on the Iowa State University campus. You will be able to try special features that make a home more convenient, comfortable, and safe in a life-sized bathroom, kitchen and living area. Call (515) 294-6568 to schedule a tour. Bring along photos and floor plans if you would like some one-on-one assistance in planning your remodeling project. You’re welcome to come as an individual or a family; group tours may be arranged.

Other resources
Update Your Home for a Lifetime of Living, ISU Extension publication PM 1824

Universal Design and Home Accessibility Web site

The House Handbook, MWPS 16, $30 at your local County Extension office or order online

This article is from the February 2009 issue of Acreage Living.
Other articles in this month’s issue--
Techniques to Improve Your Success at Farmers' Market 
Cost Saving Tips for Feeding Horses

Contacts :

Mary Yearns , Human Development & Family Studies, (515) 294-8520, yearns@iastate.edu

Lynette Spicer , Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-1327, lspicer@iastate.edu