The 2005 Horizon Home Show in Amherst, NY featured another home designed through the partnership of the IDEA Center's Danise Levine and Richard Bergman of Heartland Homes in Williamsville, NY. This model, a 2720 sq. ft. single-story home hosting 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a great room, library, kitchen, dining room, and large rear porch, again demonstrated the possibilities of incorporating universal design practices into contemporary housing.
The entry to this house is characterized by a flat driveway with sloped driveway to minimize grading, followed by a no-step entrance. Ample clearance is provided inside the home for maneuvering, with 36" door openings throughout. The kitchen is equipped with accessible fixtures and varied counter heights (42", 36", and 34") and storage units that are reachable by anyone. The bathrooms have fully-accessible appliances, roll-in showers, lowered mirror heights, and grab bars. The inclusion of raised outlets, lowered light switches, a central vacuum system, and video surveillance security system makes this home usable by any occupant.
The split level my husband and I bought in 1988 became a nightmare by 2005. I was diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis in 1993, and had to stop work as a music teacher by 1998.
My walking, the stairs in the house, the narrow halls and doorways and the small bathrooms became increasingly inaccessible. My days for the last year were spent in a lift chair in my living room.
Then, my husband came home after seeing the Horizons North home show last July 2005. "You've GOT to see this house!!!" We had been investigating building a house, or even leaving the area, but no one seemed to understand what I needed.
When my husband wheeled me into 200 S. Rockingham Way, I knew we had found it. The inconspicuous ramp to the front door, the wide doors, the spacious halls and rooms, the beautiful high ceilings and the dramatic colors and selection of fixtures made me sure that if we were lucky enough to get this house, that part my former life and that of my husband's would substantially return. As we drove away, I said "you wanna buy it?!?"
The idea that I could once again do my housework, laundry, cooking, showering, toileting, going outside, and wheeling around on the beautiful hardwood floor unaided meant the world to me.
This Universal design house is perfect for anyone. Different height countertops in the kitchen, a gourmet kitchen-aide kitchen, roll-out kitchen cabinet shelves, huge roll-in showers, roll-under sinks in the bathrooms, a convenient powder room off the great room, a possible care -givers room/den/office in the front of the house and, large roll-in closets throughout. There are also grab-bars wherever I needed them.
It is a truly beautiful home that was made with great care and consideration. Richard collaborated with Danise Levine from the University at Buffalo department for Inclusive Design incorporating ADA guidelines while making a beautiful home that makes life easy without looking at all like a "handicapped" home or a surgical supply center! This home is the home of our dreams.