The Seven Principles of Universal Design and Why They Matter

photo credit: Delta

photo credit: Delta

Universal Design has been around since the late 1990’s. Thanks to the prolific nationally renowned Architect, Ronald L. Mace and several other forward thinking architects, engineers, and designers, we have what is known as the Several Principles of Universal Design.

This is a topic that is very interesting and has a lot of discussions in the design community.  If you are remodeling your home or are responsible for the remodel of a home, you may want to take a look at how to incorporate these principles into your design.

One of the leading resources in this area is the Ronald L. Mace Universal Design Institute, based in North Carolina. The Ronald L. Mace Universal Design Institute is  dedicated to promoting the concept and practice of accessible and universal design.

One of the fundamental guiding principles of the Ronald L. Mace Universal Design Institute is that all new environments and products, should and can be usable by everyone regardless of age, ability, or circumstance.

1. Equitable use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.

  • Provide the same means of use for all users.
  • Provisions for privacy, security, and safety should be equally available to all users.
  • Make the design appealing to all users.

2. Flexibility in use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

  • Provide choice in methods of use.
  • Facilitate the user’s accuracy and precision.
  • Provide adaptability to the user’s pace.

3. Simple and intuitive: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language
skills, or current concentration level.

  • Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
  • Be consistent with user expectations.
  • Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.

4. Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of
ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.

  • Use different modes (pictorial, oral, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.
  • Provide adequate contrast be­tween essential information and its surroundings.
  • Differentiate elements in ways that can be described.

5. Tolerance for error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

  • Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most-used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated or shielded.
  • Provide warnings of hazards/errors.
  • Provide fail-safe features.

6. Low physical effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.

  • Allow user to maintain a neutral body position.
  • Use reasonable operating forces.
  • Minimize sustained physical effort.

7. Size and space for approach and use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and
use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

  • Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.
  • Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.
  • Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.

Click  on the following Links to read more on the Seven Principles of Universal Design:


7 Tenets of Universal Design From the R.L. Mace Universal Design Institute - Remodeling – HW.Net

RL Mace Universal Design Institute -

Aging In Place At Home -


Color Options for Granite Countertops

Granite countertop colors

Granite Countertop colors

Selecting Your Granite Countertop: Are you considering granite for your kitchen countertop or bathroom vanity?  If so, you have a lot of choices to choose from.

The Natural Beauty of Granite Colors: Since granite is a natural beauty, all granite slabs will have some variation from another granite slab. This helps make your selected granite countertop unique. It is wonderful helping a client go to a granite slab yard for making a selection for a kitchen countertop.

Elements that Make Up the Color In Granite: It is important to realize that granite is comprised of several elements that give it the illustrious color: quartz, feldspar and Mica. The color of granite depends on the kind and coloring of feldspars which are usually grey (from light – to dark grey) with different tints, pink, orange, red, blue-grey, sometimes blue-green.

[Read more...]

Kitchen Design: Task Lighting for All Spaces

Under Cabinet Lighting

Under Cabinet Lighting

Did you know that proper lighting can make or break the look and feel of a space? Task lighting doesn’t simply refer to a desk or work surface. Kitchens, craft areas, closets and other areas benefit from the proper task lighting. It is wonderful how the lighting industry continues to innovate, offering low watt lights that save on energy and reduce heat.

[Read more...]

Choosing the perfect gray for your decor


4 grays


If you are like most homeowners, you read the memo that gray is the hottest color to use in your home decor.  That is, if you want your home to look modern and unmistakeably contemporary. Now that the easy part is over, the real challenge comes into play, how to select that perfect gray for your home. If I could bottle up this secret, I tell you, I would make a fortune.

The key to finding that perfect gray that works for you, is by visually looking at what you want in the space where you are putting the color. Are you looking for a cool color?  Are you looking for a warm color? Will this color be used as an accent color or will this gray color be used on all of the walls? Believe it or not, this makes a big difference. Do you want a gray with a beige undertone, blue undertone, green undertone, purple undertone?  All of these decisions will need to be made before you settle on your perfect gray color. [Read more...]

Top Renovation Challenges

Houzz Renovation Challenges

Photo credit: Renovation Challenges


Top Renovation Challenges by US Home Owners in Houzz 2014 Survey - Transforming the American Home

If you are lamenting over the perplexities and challenges of remodeling your home, you are not alone.  Millions of homeowners around the country are literally in the same dilemma. Do I stay in my home? Do I remodel my home or do I sell my home?  It can get pretty daunting and frustrating when making a decision.  One of the glaring issues is the budget.

While funding a building or remodeling project/ staying on budget was among the top three challenges last year for U.S.
homeowners, with 27 percent citing it as challenge, just 19 percent said funding the project or staying on budget was a
challenge this year.

That drop isn’t due to any easing of financing options, as eight in ten homeowners paid for their project in cash . The Millennial generation was more likely to borrow from friends and family to pay for their recent project compared to other age groups (four percent versus one percent, respectively), and are more likely to have used a credit card (30 percent ) to finance their last remodeling or building project than other age groups (21 percent).

The mix of those staying on budget versus those who did not is consistent with last year ’s study. Homeowners are nearly
as likely to stick to their budgets (34 percent) as they are to go over budget.

But as in the past, very few (five percent ) came in under budget. One in five homeowners (20 percent) did not have a budget at the start of their project. Homeowners in the Northeast were again most likely to go over budget (41 percent) followed by those in the West (39 percent). Homeowners in the South were most likely to stick to their budget (35 percent).

Finding the right products was a top challenge for homeowners of all ages across the country (39 percent), followed by defining my style (28 percent), making decisions with my spouse or partner (25percent), educating myself (22 percent), and
staying on schedule (20 percent).

Funding the project or staying on budget took sixth place on the list of challenges (19 percent) . Finding the right products (45 percent), defining their style (43 percent), making decisions with their spouse or partner (34 percent) and funding the project (30 percent), was more challenging.

Essentials for Designing a Functional and Chic Built-in Wardrobe Closet

Custom-Closet with Island
Do you have this spare space in your house that’s just begging to be utilized?

Transform it into a custom designed, functional and stylish built-in wardrobe closet! Get your planning and styling off to a good start by keeping the following essentials in mind.


Consider your needs

• Prior to finalizing the design you have in mind, you need to take into account two very vital elements: your storage needs and the pieces you will be storing. Other considerations should include the ‘long hang’ versus the ‘short hang’ ratio.

• If you want to incorporate designated spaces for your bags, footwear, suitcases and sports gear in your design, it is advisable to have it noted down so you can factor it in your final layout.

Make room for ventilation

• If you will be utilizing a converted space, it is advisable to take advantage of natural ventilation. However, keep in mind that letting too much sunlight in can also be counterproductive as it can degrade fabric and fade colors.

• If there’s no window, at the very least, make it a point to ensure there is good air circulation. You can look into installing cooling vents to ensure odor and moisture are regulated. Setting up exhaust fans like the ones commonly used in bathrooms will also work wonders.

Prioritize proper lighting

• Closets making use of natural light is oftentimes rare. However, proper lighting is very important if you wouldn’t want choosing your outfit to turn into a guessing game of sorts.

• If making use of natural light is not feasible, recessed and surface-mounted lighting fixtures are handy options you can look into. Exposed light bulbs on the other hand are considered a no-no. Other lighting alternatives available at your disposal include incandescent, fluorescent and LED bulbs. [Read more...]

Pro Tips on Buying Kitchen Appliances

samsung refrigerator - kitchen appliances

Your kitchen appliance purchase will be major investment, both in out of pocket expense and with your time. Buying kitchen appliances can be a challenging task because you have s many options to consider, from energy saving, to designer models, to low cost models. This can sometimes be overwhelming.

It is important to realize that in a kitchen remodel, the selection of kitchen appliances is a very critical step in making your new kitchen look and feel fabulous. It is not just purchasing the latest and greatest new product, but rather, knowing what will work best for you and your family in your space.

Here are few professional tips to help guide your through the kitchen appliance buying process. If you are prepared before you start the process, you will be more confident with your kitchen appliance buying decisions.

  • Research and read reviews on products before you go shopping. You want to look at their likes and dislikes of the products.
  • Make a list of your priority features in products.  Are you looking for “energy efficient or “lifetime warranty”, it is important to bring this list when you go shopping so that you can compare which retailer is offering the best price with most of your appliance feature requirements.

[Read more...]

Before and After – Pompano Beach Condo Remodel

Pompano Beach - Kitchen


Check out this new before and after Pompano Beach Condo Remodel video from Donco Designs….

Fun and entertaining background music…

I hope you enjoy the video.

Find Your Room’s Color Personality – use color to dramatically change a room

three dramatic color palette

photo credit Lowes

We have all heard that  a gallon of paint can change the look and feel of a room.  Did you know that it can change the room’s personality, also?  You must be wondering what personality are we talking about the homeowner or the room.  Since every room has it’s own unique style and feel, it also stands to reason that a room also has it’s very own personality.

I work with clients all the time in trying to choose a paint color for a room or entire home. It can be a daunting task.  The first question to answer is what message are you trying to convey with this room?

There are a host of Paint choices to choose from: Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Martha Stewart, Behr, Valspar and a host of other well known brands.

Recently I came across an article on that brilliantly showcased three distinctly different looks for one room.  This was achieved by a room visualizer and some very creative people.  How do you decide what paint to use on your walls to really make them pop?  Take a look at the three distinctly designed rooms , that happen to be the same room. [Read more...]

What to Consider When Buying Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood Floor

Photo credit: The Garrison Collection – Time Inspired

There are a lot of reasons to buy hardwood flooring: it’s easy to take care of, it looks nice, and it can increase the value in your home. Hardwood floors are better for people with allergies than carpet. So, if you are convinced that installing hardwood floors is right for you, here are some guidelines to help you choose the right kind.

Your Style

Think about your design style when choosing hardwood flooring. Are you contemporary or more traditional in your design? Some woods like maple lend themselves to a contemporary design while oak is seen as more traditional. Part of your style is dependent on your home. Look at how much lighting you have and the other hardwood in your home. Don’t forget the wall colors as well. Each of these is important when choosing a type and color of hardwood.

If you have a bright, airy room with a lot of natural light coming in, you can go with dark hardwood on the floor and it will balance the area and space out. The same concept holds true in the kitchen. White kitchen cabinets can make a nice contrast with rich dark floors, on another hand, a deep colored kitchen cabinet may look more attractive with a with a lighter hardwood floor. [Read more...]