The Art of Being Subtle

When somebody’s good at what they do, people don’t notice the labor process and thought that goes into the work, just the final product.  One would never know that every aspect of our newest Norwalk house was meticulously rethought and reworked to meet the needs and comforts of a developmentally disabled tenant in a wheelchair.

Dustin Dilworth is a contractor that works frequently with HOPE. Dustin has become an expert in combining beautiful home features with the unique functions necessary for tenants in wheelchairs.

“We’re trying to make homes that are accessible, but make it feel like it’s not a hospital. This isn’t a typical care facility, this is somebody’s home,” Dustin said. “Even with the landscaping; we try to make it functional and usable so that it’s at the height that somebody with a wheelchair can use it. They can plant their little garden and have it accessible, but to anyone that walks in here, it just looks like a regular planter. It doesn’t really come across as something built for that purpose. And that’s the whole name of the game here.”

Dustin has taken a special liking to working with HOPE. “It’s really fun. They (HOPE) do a lot of creative design with their homes, I like that. Kristin and Denise are fun to work with,” Dustin said.

Dustin knows a job with HOPE means he gets to let his creative side loose to solve some problems. 

“A lot of other jobs are cut and dry,” Dustin said. “You’re stuck inside this box; with HOPE, you have to think outside the box. How do you do a roll-in shower and make it look residential, and make it look like it’s in somebody’s home and not in a hospital? How do you do a vanity and make it a roll-up, while having it be soft and pleasing, and not like it’s a hospital?”

HOPE and Dustin look forward to their next adventure in home remodeling. Because HOPE is always looking for the best new ways to serve its disabled clients, the team will head into the next project with a new approach.

“We’re going to be tackling the next project. It’s actually in the city of Norwalk again,” Dustin said. “That house will have even more of an emphasis on being accessible for people in wheelchairs. In fact, with that property, what we’re starting to do is bring people in in wheelchairs and ask them: ok, what is it you want? How would you like to get to this bedroom? How is it that you would like to get to your bathroom? We want to get their perspective and their point of view before the project even starts.”

Dustin and HOPE have been a natural fit.

“It’s fun thinking outside the box. Trying to find that balance of not having it look commercial, while making it wheelchair accessible is really unique,” Dustin said. “It’s been enjoyable.”