When Manitoba Housing drew up the blueprint for Bridgwater Lakes, the plan was to make about half of the community's lots visitable.
In a nutshell, the concept is aimed at making homes more accessible for people confined to wheelchairs, or those who use walkers or canes, to get around. Features such front entries without steps, wider doorways (36-inches), extra-wide room entries and five-foot turning radiuses in spaces such as bathrooms and kitchens.
One of the first examples of a visitable home is 35 Bellflower Road, a 1,415-square-foot bungalow built by Signature Homes.
Designed by Reuben Diamond, the home -- which features a total square footage of more than 2,600 square feet including the lower level -- is an ergonomic jewel that balances function and fashion.
"We're extremely pleased with how the design turned out," said Signature Homes sales representative Jeff McArthur of Maximum Realty. "It features an open, yet segmented layout that's highly efficient in every area."
That efficiency starts in the generous foyer, which feels even bigger due to a flex room that was placed off its left-hand side. Both able-bodied and physically challenged visitors will appreciate just how easy it is to enter the home (via the flat front landing) and shed their coats and shoes without feeling hemmed in.
Once inside, it becomes apparent The Carlyle is a centre staircase plan. That plan does two things. First, the centre staircase makes it relatively easy for a physically challenged person to access the basement, as a motorized lift can be installed to take them downstairs. With no wall to contend with, they can exit the lift, get into their wheelchair and proceed directly into the basement.
Second, the centre staircase acts as a subtle divider. In the case of The Carlyle, the foyer, flex room, kitchen and master suite are on one side. The main bathroom is in the centre, with two bedrooms and the family room on the other side.
There's a four-foot entrance into the L-shaped kitchen, an extra-wide hallway that leads to the bedroom wing and family room, and the main bathroom and bedrooms, with their 36-inch-wide doors allow for seamless access into each space.
"Both the kitchen and main bathroom have a five-foot turning radius, which provides plenty of room to manoeuvre for someone who has to use a wheelchair, or who needs extra room to get around due to limited mobility," said McArthur. "And the extra-wide doors not only make it easy for anyone to get into a room, but they also allow more natural light to flow through the home, too."
Signature's design team decked out the interior in rich finishes: dark maple hardwoods (which run through most of the main living area), Tuscan (cinnamon) maple cabinets, a sharp brown/taupe glass tile backsplash in the kitchen and light taupe laminate countertops.
Those who enjoy subtle division between spaces will appreciate the one-third wall that neatly separates the family room from the kitchen. The family room is bright (thanks to a huge picture window on its rear wall), spacious and was designed to leave room for future owners to create a space that meets their needs.
"We put up oversized piano windows on the left-hand wall, and put in a store-bought entertainment unit to show that you don't necessarily have to have us put in a custom unit for you," he said. "We always want our homes to come in at realistic budgets, so we don't load them with upgrades. Instead, we put in key options, and then let customers decide what upgrades they want to put in."
The master suite was placed by itself at the front of the home. It not only offers solitude, but its fair share of creature comforts, too.
"At 13 feet by 11.3 feet, it offers plenty of space, and is also nice and bright due to a huge window on its front wall," McArthur added.
"It comes with a big ensuite with soaker tub, beige (faux tile) floor and Tuscan maple vanity. The walk-in closet is quite large, and also comes with a three-foot entrance."
The two secondary bedrooms (11.4 feet by nine feet and nine feet by 10.2 feet respectively) have their own secluded wing on the other side of the spacious (10.3 foot by 5.5 foot) main bath.
And with another at-grade entrance at the rear (another one-third wall divides it from the family room), neither is accessibility.
Add in a lower level that can be configured to house two more bedrooms, a rec room, bathroom and storage, and you have a family-oriented home that's accessible, fashionable and affordable.
"This home, which includes a garage pad, sells for under $380,000," he said. "The Carlyle offers exceptional value, function and style."
BUILDER: Signature Homes
MODEL: The Carlyle
SIZE: 1,415 sq. ft.
ADDRESS: 35 Bellflower Road, Bridgwater Lakes
LOT SIZE: 38' x 118'
PRICE: $378,900 (including lot, GST & garage pad)
CONTACT: Jeff McArthur, Maximum Realty Limited