Skip to content

Signup for our newsletter

Privacy policy
front cover lifetime home design guide

Case Studies

The Scarlets

Mik Scarlet is 47. Paralysed by a childhood cancer, he is a wheelchair user and lives with his wife, Diane, 41. His home is a Genesis Housing Association two-bedroom flat near London’s Camden Lock. It’s a quiet road just metres from the hurly-burly of the Camden markets and nightlife.

Mik and Diane were the first into the block in December 2008. He says it has the best community spirit of anywhere he has lived. Not surprising, since the pair left their previous home in Shepherd’s Bush following a spate of disability hate crime incidents. Far away in Camden, they now feel safe and are near to Diane’s family. On the first floor, there are two lifts – one of them safe to use in a fire.

Why a Lifetime Home?

Mik and Diane chose a Lifetime Home rather than one built to wheelchair housing standard because he preferred the layout of his flat. He also felt he didn’t need some of the features that come as standard in wheelchair housing that he has experienced; in his view they’re better suited to use of a powered wheelchair rather than a manual one.

He was concerned that there would be too much “circulation space” in a wheelchair standard home - taking space away from other rooms. The wide hallway with wheelchair turning spaces subtley designed in to his current flat are big enough for him. The door-width in a Lifetime Home (as opposed to a wheelchair standard home) are also just about right. “But I can’t get any fatter!”, he jokes.

For the most part he is delighted with the flat. But the property has a few drawbacks as far as Mik is concerned – the bathroom was designed with space only for a walk-in shower, not for the far bigger bath that Mik, a strapping 6’4”, prefers. “I can’t dye my hair very easily in the sink!” he complains jovially. “It’s the wrong shape for that.” It highlights the challenge in standardising design when we all have different needs and preferences. With Lifetime Homes, at least it's far easier to make these adaptations. 

The kitchen is still not quite right as it is taking a while to get the adaptations and adjustments just right for Mik and Diane.  It’s open plan with the storage cupboards adjusted to the right height – but the surfaces are still too low for Mik’s knee-height.

Supporting their lifestyle

He and Diane both work from home so it is critical that the space works well for them. After the hate crime incidents occurred, they had to live apart for three years until a suitable property became available – a huge strain and far from ideal as a loving couple - but they're happy to be living together again.

Despite Mik’s feelings about 'cavernous' hallways, he admits that for a wheelchair user, turning and circulation space is crucial to feeling at ease – and not bashing the skirting boards and taking off the paintwork around the doors.

The large hall does provide a feeling of space – despite a huge storage unit that keeps clutter at bay in this stylish, light and contemporary property. The spacious second bedroom works as the couple’s office and recording studio, where they work, creatively, companionably and safely, side by side.

Wheelchair user in doorway leading to spacious hallway decorated in shades of whiteWheelchair user showing photographer his kitchen. There is a piano and photographic portrait on the wall.