Award-winning interior designer touts 'universal design' at SFA

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - "Baby Boomers" arrival to the senior years is creating more interest in something called "universal design." It has a lot to do with barrier-free living. East Texas News talked to an award-winning interior designer and author who is in Nacogdoches to promote the concept.

Ynthia Leibrock is the rock star among interior designers.

The internationally known expert on barrier-free living is in Nacogdoches during Fair Housing Month promoting universal design.

"Universal design means design for all people," Leibrock said.

It's an idea Leibrock wants future designers, like the ones learning at Stephen F. Austin State University, to use automatically on all projects.

"They allow a person to build a new home, raise a family in the home, and then age in the home and never have to be transplanted," Dr. Mitzi Perritt, an SFA Human Sciences professor, said."I'm not trying to encourage people to target a product for elderly and disabled people. I'm encouraging them to design one product that works for people of all ages and abilities."

The tall, very able-bodied woman has more than 200 barrier-free ideas in her home. She said they don't require "tight grasping, pinching, or twisting."

Need an example? How about a walk-in, sit-down shower for young and old alike?

"I don't need a seat in this stage of my life, but it's great to be able to put your legs up, you know if you want to wash your feet," Leibrock said.

Judge Joe English, a Baby boomer himself, doesn't want the community to overlook an aging population's needs.

"So, Nacogdoches County, the City of Nacogdoches, the apartment associations and SFA have come together to sponsor this event," English said.

In new construction, universal design costs less than five percent to implement. There's even a weekend project to get you started.

"Tape down your area rugs," Leibrock said. "Very small thing. Buy some double stick tape."

The accessibility and adaptability keeps people in their homes for a life time.

Thursday afternoon, Liebrock spoke to apartment managers, contractors, and other area professionals. She is helping them incorporate features that promote independent living.

Copyright 2013 KTRE. All rights reserved.