Modern Accessibility

Chris and Jen Lymans’ uptown abode is ADA compliant and beautiful.
Photographed by Sara Essex Bradley
Couch|!!| throw and colorful toss pillows are from Modern Market; coffee table was custom made; bamboo floors throughout entire house are from Lumber Liquidators.

Chris and Jen Lyman live in a 1,500 square-foot renovated house Uptown  suited to the needs of their 10-year-old son, who has cerebral palsy and is visually impaired.
They hired architect Michael Toups of Barron & Toups Architects for the 1927 house that they gutted. The foundation, front porch and roof structure were the only original details retained. The Lymans say, “Our architect did a wonderful job recreating the traditional New Orleans facade to complement the other homes on our street, then transitioning to this fantastic open, modern, fully accessible architecture just beyond.”

Jen Lyman researched American Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for accessible design for the layout.

“We wanted a modern house that was also fully accessible, and that doesn’t have to be unsightly. Much of what makes this house fully accessible is hidden in the design and architecture,” she says of the planning process.

The home features rounded corners in the hallway that don’t get dinged up by the wheelchair – they look like a molding choice. There are also rounded corners on the kitchen countertop; sharp edges could cause injuries. There are wide pocket doors that are easy to navigate and reduce obstacles as well as a wheel-in shower and floating sink in their son’s bathroom to allow access and use. Lever door handles throughout the home are easy to use and have a sleek designer look. An unobtrusive ramp is hidden on the side of the house. The side door from the ramp is push-button powered. The hallways and main living space are wide and open for easy navigation. There is a spectacular Nanawall glass wall, a door system that allows unimpeded flow from the main living space to and from the back porch when fully opened. The stairs from the back porch down to the back yard and the pool are low-rising and easy to descend with a wheelchair. There is cabana in the back (made from a shipping container) that provides a perfect place for guests and for caregivers to stay overnight when necessary.  

Kitchen cabinets are from IKEA through Bluebag LLC;  Corian countertops and backsplash by Martin Woodworks; barstools from Villa Vici; red flower pot, placemats, and napkins from Modern Market.

Facing page, bottom: Dining table from Modern Market, dining chairs from IKEA, through Bluebag LLC; silver centerpiece bowl from Villa Vici.

The house features all-white interiors punctuated by colorful artwork and accessories. This was a choice to aid the young man of the house. His mother explains, “As far as color choices go, because of our son’s visual impairment, I placed a priority on keeping the color scheme simple and visually uncluttered. It makes it easier for him to focus on the things that he needs to focus on. Also, because the house is only 1,500 square feet, we used the same white paint color and same dark bamboo floors throughout to make the house seem larger and even more open. The artwork has the overarching theme of events and places we love. The art in the front of the house includes original 1915 Mardi Gras Float Bulletins produced for and included as inserts in the newspaper for the Momus, Comus, Proteus and Rex parades, as well as several watercolors of various New Orleans scenes painted by Errol Barron and printed on metal, for a modern feel. The remainder of our artwork is photography by my husband from our travels to Africa and the Burning Man festival. This includes the photo of the BELIEVE art installation, taken at Burning Man at sunrise two years ago.”

Jen Lyman acted as her own interior designer and sourced things locally from Modern Market and Villa Vici. She also found things from IKEA (with help from the local IKEA liaison Bluebag LLC), Room and Board, and California Closets. She further appreciates the work of builders Pierre Stouse and Clayton Carriere of Edifice Builders, and the pool and fire pit designer/builder Brett Oncale of Archangel Pools.


Facing page, top, left: In the master bedroom, the bed, linens and toss pillows are from Room and Board; the side tables are from West Elm.

Bookshelves custom by Martin Woodworks, chair from Modern Market. Bottom, left: framed car prints in the child’s room are vintage.

Floating vanity in master bathroom is IKEA through Bluebag LLC; sink and Delta faucets  arefrom Ferguson Kitchen, Bath and Lighting.

The orthopedic bed with a custom headboard is from Modern Market

Jen and Chris Lyman advise one to take the time to research accessible and universal design. Go online, and search for images of accessible homes and tour such spaces. “We had to consider the needs of a growing boy who uses a wheelchair and has visual impairment. He’s only 50 pounds now and easy to lift, but in a few short years, he’ll be big, and he’ll need space for transfers and specialized equipment. We wanted the house to grow with him and for him to have the ability to access anything he needs in it. He might not be able to do it now, but in the future he will. We also realize that sometimes it is more difficult to get out and about with our son, so we really placed a priority on designing our house to be both functional and a place where friends and family would want to gather.”

They sum up the sensibility of their home in two words: “Modern Accessibility.”




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