That’s exactly the clever play that architect Davor Mikulcic has used to impress the design world with an award-winning home in Upper Hutt.
Owners Phillip and Helen Blundell’s brief was simple: “We don’t want just functional — we want exciting, something that makes a statement!”
The Blundell home is a breakthrough design for the New Zealand design industry, because it clearly demonstrates that a Lifemark-approved home can serve the functions of accessibility, usability and inclusiveness, as well as take your breath away when it comes to design.
Their exciting new home has been built to accommodate the needs of Mr Blundell, who has been a wheelchair user since being involved in a military helicopter accident 28 years ago.
Everything is accessible, from the gently-sloping entry from the street via a full-height, extra-width front door, through to a spacious open plan living area which opens up straight through to 150 sq m of kwila decks surrounding the house.
Sliding doors throughout have handles consistently at a metre from the floor. Steel-braced soaring roof lines have allowed the removal of major internal walls, giving more room for Mr Blundell to move around.
In the kitchen, the microwave opens downward and the oven sideways. Benches are low, and there is even a purpose-built area which houses a coffee machine where Mr Blundell can be a personal barista for his guests.
There’s a spacious office and a state-of-the-art entertainment centre with an in-ceiling mounted, six-zoned speaker system and a huge projector screen which can come down for those big games. There is even a room with a home exercise machine and equipment provided through ACC.
Two of the three wheelchair-accessible bathrooms have wet-area showers, which makes personal hygiene easy, and visits a breeze for their elderly parents.
An innovative and sustainable garden has also been added to the property, which includes raised planter boxes for Mr Blundell’s vegetable garden.
The Blundells closely monitored the project, which they say would not have been so successful without award-winning Registered Master Builder Brian Marriner of Maridale Construction, and his talented team.
The Lifetime Design standards are basically common sense — simple design adaptations (from what you would normally do) that enable accessible, adaptable and inclusive design features into a home that works for everybody at whatever stage of life.
The special features in a Lifemarked home can go unnoticed to most — the Blundell home proves this — and shows that design has tackled functionality head on and nailed it!