Family Home Gets ADA-Compatible Update
By Anita Shaw
CHICAGO There’s nothing quite like the feeling of coming home to be
within rooms with a personal history, enveloped by walls that can
almost speak, and among intimate treasures. Attachments to homes
can be intense and profoundly personal particularly the
kitchen and bath and often the most important part of a redesign is
the need to maintain that sense of comforting familiarity.
To do that, knowing the customer is essential and something that
drives designer Anthony Michael of Michael & Associates, Inc.,
located here. The designer takes his time getting to know each of
his customers, developing an understanding of their tastes and
lifestyles before embarking on their kitchen or bath design
For one particular renovation, however, Michael was already
keenly familiar with the client. He took on the somewhat unusual
task of working for his mother to recreate the family home.
The house, which was built in the early 1990s, was in need of a
remodel and retrofit to accommodate his mother’s special physical
needs, brought about after she suffered a stroke. “Basically,
everything needed to be ADA-approved and needed to afford
wheelchair access, as well as provide space for live-in
caretakers,” Michael notes.
All of this needed to be achieved without losing the aesthetic
values that Michael’s mother was used to. Though the upscale
two-story home had become unwieldy for the client following the
illness, her interest in remaining there motivated him to make
major changes to meet the various challenges put forth.
“My mother’s dream was to live out her days in the family home,”
says Michael. “It was important to maintain the proportions she was
accustomed to in this new home.”
In its previous incarnation, the home had 2,800 sq. ft. of
livable space. Modifications to an empty loft area made a space for
a caregiver, while the renovation of a lower level into a
fully-equipped apartment created a home for Michael’s aunt, who
anticipates the possibility of living there at some point in time.
With these modifications, the home is now nearly 4,000 sq.
An open floorplan and 18′ ceilings give the home an upscale,
airy feeling, as do the high-end finishes, updated furnishings and
panel moldings. With regard to color, everything was neutral to
allow for easy cleaning and timeless, utilitarian design. The
eclectic decor is a mix of traditional, Louis the XVI,
contemporary, Asian and updated French neo-classical.
Carpet and tile were replaced with over 18,000 pounds of stone
throughout the home, allowing for easier wheelchair
maneuverability. In addition, each room is now barrier-free, and
enlarged hallways, widened door openings and height-adjusted,
lever-style door handles make access throughout the home a
non-issue. A first alert system was also installed, providing the
client with access to help in an emergency through the touch of a
The kitchen is also a touch-controlled area, using no knobs that
might make access more difficult. It is a typical work triangle and
an enlarged galley concept, measuring 10’x12′ in the main room,
with an eat-in area of 12’6″x8’6″.
“The allows for easy movement, as well as accessibility of
appliances from a wheelchair,” offers Michael.
Maple cabinets with a clear finish from the Signature Kitchens
Collection from Corsi were utilized, topped with Giallo Vineziano
granite countertops. An undermount sink from Franke is featured,
along with a Franke faucet in brushed nickel to complement the
The floor, which is a honed, Turkish limestone, blends with the
countertop and the surrounding decor. It is low impact and non-skid
for better maneuverability.
Stainless steel appliances include a Sub-Zero refrigerator,
Miele dishwasher, Miele cooktop and Thermador oven. A GE Spacesaver
microwave oven was also incorporated into the design, as was a
KitchenAid garbage disposal.
Providing for the special needs of the client, Michael chose
features for these appliances that would be of specific benefit for
her. The Sub-Zero refrigerator features a sounding alarm should the
door be left ajar, while the Miele cooktop comes with a one-touch
The natural lighting in the room is controlled by plantation
shutters with one-vein control. The added lighting, from
Lightolier, consists of a combination of diffused/halogen and
incandescent. “A soffet with up-lighting frames the kitchen,
allowing it to ‘float’ in the open plan of the home,” he
BATHED IN BEAUTY
Michael continues the traditional yet contemporary theme in the
master bedroom/bathroom suite. The style is French 1930s, with
panel moldings and inset mirrors, and use of marble. Soft putty
tones trimmed in white give the space an elegant, high-end
Behind the decor of the space, the design is completely
barrier-free and wheelchair accessible. Vanilla Onachiatta
acid-etched flooring provides a slip-resistant surface. The
lighting, from Boyd, as well as outlets and switches, were
relocated to conform to the standards of the American With
The bathroom itself features a walk-in, curbless, barrier-free
shower with marble, designed at an angle to help with proper
drainage. Stainless steel grab bars from Kohler and a Moen
hand-held body spray are a part of the frameless shower.
The challenges of the master bath design went beyond
functionality, however. “Finding attractive fixtures that would be
accessible to my mother, but didn’t look institutional, was
difficult,” stresses Michael. “There just isn’t much available in
this market niche.”
He finally chose a wheelchair-height toilet from Kohler in
Biscuit for easy access. The Caxton sink, also in Biscuit, features
lever-style faucets from Moen in polished chrome and platinum.
While aesthetically, the redesign was all about updating and
modernizing, Michael was left to use some unconventional products.
“There were no built-ins or granite,” he comments. “All of the
things that are typical in today’s kitchens and baths were
- Designer Anthony Michael made his mother’s family home
ADA-compliant after she suffered a stroke and became wheelchair
- The designer worked inventively with the interior while
respecting its original design.
- The two-story home was remodeled to include living space for
the caregiver, as well as a fully functional apartment for the
- An open floorplan and cathedral ceilings give the home an
upscale, spacious feeling, enhanced by the easy-to-clean, neutral
decor that is traditional with a contemporary edge.
- Maple cabinets blend with stainless steel appliances in
this contemporary-styled kitchen. Granite countertops blend with
the Turkish limestone floors.
- A walk-in, curbless, barrier-free shower with stainless steel
grab bars and hand-held body spray is featured in the master
bathroom. The toilet is wheelchair height, and the sink features
- Kitchen products include: Corsi maple cabinets from the
Signature Kitchens Collection; Giallo Vineziano granite
countertops; Franke undermount sink and faucet; Turkish limestone
floor; a SubZero refrigerator with sounding alarm; Miele
dishwasher; Thermador oven; Miele cooktop with one-touch pad; GE
Spacesaver microwave oven; KitchenAid garbage disposal; lighting
from Lightolier. Bathroom products include: Caxton sink;
wheelchair-height toilet from Kohler; Moen lever-style faucets;
Kohler stainless steel grab bars; Moen hand-held body spray; Boyd