The Adaptive Design Pro Who’s Redefining Barrier-Free Spaces


Portrait shot of designer Maegan Blau.

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention, and Maegan Blau might agree. Blau was 20 years old and looking for an apartment that had the accessibility features she needed when she seemed to hit a dead end. Rather than making do, she purchased a house and remodeled it with a contractor friend who pointed out she was approaching the project like an interior designer. Something clicked for Blau. A few years later, she’d completed her degree in environmental science, gotten married, attended a design program and launched Blue Copper Design, a firm that specializes in creating beautiful, barrier-free spaces. Here, Blau weighs in on why adaptive design is about more than checking boxes.

White kitchen with open shelving and geometric-patterned tile on island base.

What might surprise people about adaptive design? It includes features a lot of people already want for aesthetic reasons, whether that’s roll-under sinks or curb-less showers. Luxury homes are a lot more adaptive than most people realize. They’re that way for the look, but sleek showers and pull-out drawers are also adaptive.

How can people prepare for mobility issues or other accessibility concerns that may arise? Put a support backing into your showers so you can install grab-bars down the road. Invest in supportive furniture, like sofas and beds into which you easily transfer. Plan for drawer storage that you can readily reach.

What are some of your favorite ways to make adaptive design not just functional but inspiring? I love using different metal finishes that you might not always see, like copper, gunmetal and unlacquered brass. Anything that will patina really lights my heart on fire. I also use the areas a client can’t reach, like upper cabinets or open shelving in a kitchen, for a pop of color or an opportunity for a wow factor. 

What is the hardest part of your job? Convincing people that they deserve to live better. They’re used to making things work, and I’m like, “No, no, no. I want to know your most desirable situation. That’s what we’re going for. That’s what you deserve.”