Despite over 40 million Americans having at least one disability, just one-third of homes in the United States have some key accessibility features – meaning they need additional modifications to become a fully accessible home. And, sadly, over 95% of homes aren’t even fit to accommodate someone with moderate mobility difficulties. It needn’t be this way, and the reality is, smart home and garden modifications can benefit everyone by improving accessibility, comfort, and efficiency. It can also improve home value – buyers are happy to pay around $15,000 extra for an accessible home.


Importance of wheelchair-friendly doorways 

A key way to make an accessible home is to widen the doorways. Most wheelchairs can fit comfortably through doorways between 32 inches to 48 inches wide, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Replacing regular door hinges with swing-clear hinges is also a smart move. With these hinges, the door moves completely out of the opening when it’s opened, giving people with mobility aids the space needed to cross comfortably. Similarly, regular doorknobs may also pose difficulty for some people as they need to be twisted. Instead, lever-style handles are straightforward and require less dexterity to use. You may even want to consider installing bi-folding doors – these doors are simple enough to slide open and closed. In addition to improving functionality, bi-folding doors also let in plenty of natural light and look great. 

Don’t forget the kitchen

It’s important to note, various federal laws require landlords to make “reasonable modifications” and “reasonable accommodations” to their property, so tenants with disabilities can live comfortably. And, despite the kitchen being the heart of the home, for people with disabilities, it’s also usually one of the most difficult to navigate. Landlords (and homeowners) should pay particular attention to improving accessibility in this space. Fortunately, multi-level countertops, for example, are an easy installation that can drastically improve ease of use. With multi-level countertops, individuals using wheelchairs will be able to work at a counter comfortably within reach. They’re also chic and modern looking.

Designing an accessible garden 

By making your garden accessible, you can create a beautiful and peaceful outdoor space everyone can enjoy. So, if you have different levels in your garden, you’ll need to add something like either deep, shallow steps or ramps (an expert can help you plan this). Ideally, you should aim for a gradient no steeper than 1:12 to ensure it’s easy and safe to navigate. Handrails (or, alternatively, a wall) should accompany the steps or ramp for further support. As well as providing stability and reassurance, handrails can also add a touch of style to your garden. These rails can be either wall or floor mounted, and the top edge of the rail should be between 30 inches to 37 inches above the stair slope or tread. When it comes to your choice of materials, consider both the type of look and feel you want to achieve. Metal, for instance, looks modern, and feels smooth and cold to the touch. Wood and rope, on the other hand, add texture and warmth, although they may need greater maintenance in terms of protection and repairs.

Beautiful garden paths

Accessible home garden paths can transform the functionality of your garden. Your choice of paving surface, in particular, should be smooth and solid enough to navigate without issue – that means no gravel or chips. Ideally, go with something like large format slabs and tiles to allow wheelchairs to pass through comfortably. Paving should also always be evenly laid. Resin-bound gravel is another wheelchair-friendly choice; it’s smooth, durable, and weather-resistant. And, people with limited eyesight or blindness can also benefit from anti-glare paving slabs.

Aim for a width of roughly five feet; this provides enough space for a wheelchair, frame, or stick to pass through. You may also want to add seating every so often along the path. Not only does seating let you appreciate the garden from different spots, but it also provides useful rest stops. 

Inclusive design choices can make your home and garden more modern, comfortable, and efficient. By incorporating smart accessible home modifications, you can make sure everyone feels welcome.

Contribution from freelance writer, Nina Graham. To write for the GRIT Blog, contact our team at