Results from student-led design exercises

Last year we worked on several student-led design projects to “test” how to effectively collaborate with a diverse team to create a universally-designed home (we wrote more about that here), but this post is to share some visuals of the home that was designed.

Below you’ll find a handful of images from our project. Keep tabs on our social media accounts for future posts that dig deeper into the design and explain why specific features were chosen.

This project was not finalized due to academic schedules. We know there are areas to improve, but the images above do show that it’s possible to collaboratively create universally accessible home plans that can be flexible to meet the needs of a variety of people and still look beautiful! We plan to share more about the individual areas of the home, as well as why we chose certain features over others.

Design objectives

Our goal for this home was to meet the functional needs of a wide range of users without overdesigning or being too specific for one type of user or need. We also wanted the home to be desirable for many and not scream disability. We added flexibility into the home for a wide range of people to use the space and alter it easily if needed. 

Design team

  • Sandy Welfare – Doctoral level occupational therapy student (who has passed her exam to be an official OTD!) 
  • Brittany Drews – Master’s level occupational therapy student – with some schooling in interior design
  • Brooke Thabit – Graduate level interior design student
  • David S. Watson – Undergraduate level industrial design student
  • Sarah Pruett OT and Project Manager
  • 60+ design advisors with a wide range of personal/professional experience with disability

David (industrial design student) focused on the exterior, kitchen, and 3rd bedroom/office. Brooke (interior design student) worked on the living room, master bedroom, and master bathroom. They each created the images in this post.

As part of our process, design features were analyzed by the occupational therapy students (Sandy & Brittany) to make sure we were keeping a wide variety of functional needs in mind, not just physical mobility. Other functional considerations included: upper and lower body sensory and movement abilities, extremes in height and weight, vision, hearing cognition and memory, balance, and mental health just to name a few. The healthcare team was constantly involved in design decisions from the start and contributed equally to the design ideas.



One of the goals was to keep the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home under 2000 square feet, but we ran a bit over at 2226 sq. ft.

  • All interior doorways and closets are 36″ wide with an exception of the coat closet by the front door with folding doors. 
  • A one-story open floorplan was utilized to make it easy for individuals to navigate and see/hear across different areas of the home.
  • All entrances are without steps.
  • All closets have doors wide enough for users using mobility devices to reach in or go inside.
  • All bathroom walls are reinforced with additional blocking between the studs so individuals can place grab-bars or seats wherever desired when needed.

What’s Next?

We were encouraged by what we learned and are excited to begin projects in the future to create construction documents for home builders. This requires collaboration with licensed Architects and additional volunteer Design Advisors who have life experience with disability. If you are curious about how you could collaborate with us, learn more about who we are looking for in our “work with us” page.

We look forward to sharing more progress in the future!


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