Redesign makes home more accessible

March 26, 2009 When you think about the amount of time you spend in your own home, making it accessible to meet your needs is essential. A west suburban business woman with multiple sclerosis has done just that.

Open, airy and tasteful is how you might describe Connie Wurtzel's condo. Two years ago, she started working with Jordan Guide, a young Chicago interior designer.

The first room they did was the kitchen.

"There was no room for the wheelchair to get to the stove, you had to do it from the side, the table was high counters were too high, the refrigerator was to big. We gutted the kitchen and started over," said Wurtzel.

"I had the kitchen company find a metalworker who would make a heat shield, and we put the heat shield in between the cook top, and then we put a finished panel underneath that just to make it look nice, and now she's safe and can cook as we all do," said Guide.

Then they started changing the rest of the condo.

"We came to the living room because the two sofas here I didn't like the materials and the wall color remained. We worked with that and she started picking materials, and then this was too pretty and the bathroom wasn't so then we went to the bathroom," said Wurtzel.

Guide learned about accessibility during college.

"But I didn't really know as much as I did about it until I started working with Wurtzel and that's when I started doing my research and my homework, finding the products and materials that she needed," Guide said.

Making your home accessible is not that difficult.

"The hardest part is finding the materials and the products," said Guide.

"I think more people are inclined to stay home. I mean, the thought of assisted living or that type of thing, I just-- that just scares ," Wurtzel said.

Wurtzel also had all the carpeting removed to make it easier to use her motorized chair.

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