Barrier-Free Living

Photo portfolio by Amoura Productions


When the Morrissey family of Elkhorn decided to build a new home, they knew they wanted Curt Hofer Construction to be the one to do it. With three children, and one who’s reliant on a wheelchair, the Morrissey’s needed a house designed to accommodate someone with limited mobility. Curt Hofer had personal experience with the issue and worked with the Morrissey’s to incorporate features that met their needs. In fact, it was the first “barrier free” home featured in the 2007 Street of Dreams to incorporate this universal design that can benefit many homeowners.

At first glance, the four bedroom, 4,400 sq. ft. ranch style home in the Five Fountains subdivision located just north of West Dodge Road off 192nd Street, doesn’t look any different than a traditional home. But if you look closely, you’ll see that every entrance into the house is zero grade. There are no steps through the front door, into the house from the garage, onto the deck, or into the backyard from the walk-out basement. Hallways and doorways are wider, there’s more space between the kitchen island and countertops, and outlets are located higher on the wall so someone in a wheelchair doesn’t have to bend down to use it.  

Even the features that you might expect to find in a barrier free home were designed to blend seamlessly. An elevator to the lower level is hidden behind a door that could just as easily be a closet. Sinks in the master bathroom allow for a wheelchair to roll underneath, and subtle carpeted ramps in the basement allow a wheelchair to access the sunken living room. “You don’t realize just how long and wide a wheelchair is until you have to push one around,” Kris Morrissey said. “There are so many things you run into when in a traditional home.”

The universal design is ideal for anyone who might experience limited mobility. Kris said when her husband had knee surgery, it was so much easier for him to shower and move around the house while on crutches. Her parents always use the elevator when they visit because it’s so much easier for them than the stairs. “Although most people don’t need an elevator, it makes a difference when you have someone over to the house who needs it,” Kris added. They also installed wheelchair friendly carpet throughout the basement and a bar that’s easily accessible.

The craftsman style interior of the home is filled with warm, rich-colored quarter-sawn red oak wood for custom cabinetry. It’s complimented by Brazilian cherry wood floors throughout the main level. The kitchen includes an oversized island with a built-in table at one end rather than a bar-height island so that it allows for a wheelchair to fit under. Kris said she loves to cook and entertain, so the 6-burner stove top and warming drawer are two of her favorite kitchen features. Off the kitchen is an open office area, drop zone, and separate laundry room. All closets in the home were also fitted with custom shelving by California Closets.

The Cape Cod style exterior is complimented by professional landscaping from KM Landscaping. A water feature and fire pit are central to the backyard, and the neighborhood itself includes numerous fountains and walking paths. “This is a wonderful location with great neighbors and fantastic schools,” Kris said. “It’s been a wonderful place to raise our younger kids, and now that they’re older we’re ready to downsize. It will be the perfect home for anyone who wants ease of access and more space for whenever you might find yourself needing it.” For more information on this home, contact Julie Hillmer with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services,, 402-968-4963. 

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