This Interior Designer Lives her Life Barrier Free

by Cheryl Price

For most of Marteen Moore’s life, she’s been inspired by design and art. As a child, Marteen spent summers in France, her mother’s native country. While there, she instantly fell in love with Europe’s architecture and beauty. Years later, in 1988, she started her own firm based in Las Vegas, Marteen Moore Interior Planning, where Marteen specializes in large custom homes. Marteen’s professional life was blossoming, and around the same time, she got married and started a family.

Marteen’s life unexpectedly changed years later. As many of us at mobilewomen are familiar with, Marteen became a paraplegic in 2007. She explains, “It started with a benign tumor wrapped around my spine at the T6 Level in 2001, when I woke up one morning with pain. It took about three months to figure it out what was causing it, and they sent me for an MRI. From the Radiologist, I was taken by ambulance for surgery. It appeared to be successful until 2006, when I started to feel numbness in my legs. They first thought it might be MS, but then realized the tumor had returned. I was immediately flown in a med vac plane to USC California for surgery. In the hospital, I developed a staph infection. After four more surgeries, between the staph infection and the surgeries, my spine was compromised and I became paralyzed.”
Interior designer Marteen Moore
While of course it took time to adjust her new life from this different vantage point of a wheelchair, Marteen ultimately persevered and resumed work. As she expresses, “We can do anything we set our minds to.” Her passion for interior design remains, and after renovating her home for accessibility and learning first-hand the important of accessible design elements in homes, Marteen now has a very important understanding of accessible design.

When Marteen returned to work full-time, she learned that there were some new challenges, now that she used a wheelchair. She reflects: “First, I have to bring an assistant with me. Next is the issue of entering a home. I have two ramps I use: a small one, if the step is too big for me to get up with help, and a large ramp for two to three steps. Typically there is one access to the home that only has one step. Usually it’s in the garage. I also have my assistant do my measuring. Another challenge is accessing a second floor or basement. I have my assistant measure and take pictures. With both of those, I can draw up the floor plan and design the room. When I need to bring large or multiple items into a home, again my assistants help me.”

Marteen also noted that there has been an increasing need for accessible homes: “With all the baby boomers who are getting up in years, I understand their needs in making a home more accessible and user friendly. In the past few years, there seems to be a strong attraction for single-floor housing, from most of my clients, due to either their lifestyle or seeing what their parents are going through.” 

Marteen does beautiful work, and her style comes from years of experience and knowledge. When it comes to accessibility, many people aren’t aware of what to keep in mind and what to avoid in a home. Here too, Marteen has tips.

What to Keep in Mind with Overall Accessible Design:

* The height of the counters to access sinks, cook tops, etc. 
* The width of the doors, so that both motorized and manual wheelchairs can access them. 
* Showers should be roll-in showers, with no dams, at least not at the shower entrance.
* Change steps to ramps.
* Place furniture in a manner that is easy to move around without feeling trapped.
*  Use colors on floors that hide dirt from the wheels of chairs.
* Avoid area rugs in major walkways, halls and kitchens.
* Cranking, casement-type windows are easier to open than the standard double-hung style.
*  Glare-free lighting, cabinets, and low-gloss counter laminate improves usability.
* Switches and thermostats should be installed no higher than 48” off the floor.
* Place electrical outlets no lower than 15” off the floor. 
* Make sure you place handheld faucets on a slide bar that permits the shower head to function as a typical shower head, but also low enough for a shower chair.
* Grab bars are always a good idea throughout the bathroom.
* Place Shower niches low enough to access.

Mrs. Marteen reminds up that you can design an accessible home without it looking sterile. “Keep in mind,” she says, “that almost everything can be designed as you would an able-bodied individual’s home, as long as things are reachable. But in shower walls, there are so many beautiful porcelain tiles out, that there is no need to use the typical 4”x4” white tiles. Also, on floors, use a porcelain tile or vinyl. They have designs that look like wood, stone, concrete, etc.”

For those of us in chairs, we know that we want our home to look beautiful and be accessible without looking like it’s any different than someone else’s home. Marteen understands this. She points out the importance of a functional kitchen. Some of her pointers when it comes to accessible kitchen design include:

* Raise the dishwasher 6” to 8" off the floor, and locate the unit so it is accessible from either side.
* An appliance lift is a simple way to make standard appliances more accessible.
* Make the width of kitchen aisles 42” instead of 36” which allows several people to work in the kitchen at the same time; allowing someone to get around a person in a wheelchair.
* Newer technology makes adjustable kitchen wall cabinets available, which automatically lower upper cabinets to a reachable level; alternatively shelving lifts can be installed to lower shelves to the counter level.
*  For the upper cabinets you can use the same pull-down and lifts as the kitchen.  
* For a wheelchair user, you want to lower or install the wall oven and microwave so they are approximately 31” from the floor. Install an electric cook top unit with staggered burners and mount the controls on the top front or below the unit to eliminate reaching across hot burners.
* Space for knees at the cook top and link are important. They require at least a 24” height from the floor and approximately 30” in width.

Based on Marteen Moore’s portfolio and experience, it’s clear she knows what it takes to design a stunning home. Moreover, she knows how to make a home both gorgeous and functional for a wheelchair-user. Her drive for success and passion for her work that started out at a young age has only increased as years have passed. The banner on her company’s website includes the Carl Sandberg quote, “Nothing happens, unless first a dream.” Marteen personifies those words and we are sure the dream is still unfolding.

For more photos and information, visit Marteen Moore Interior Planning at

Mobilewomen, do you have a photo of your accessible home that you want to share? Do you love your adapted kitchen or accessible bathroom? Share on our facebook or twitter pages with #MobilewomenAccessibility!

1 comment:

  1. Marteen, is that YOUR kitchen and shower. They look beautiful.
    Kevin B


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