Will Your Remodeling or Home Stand the Test of Time?

I will be doing a in March for the Society of Decorating Professionals to help spread the word about designing and decorating for everyone with all accessibilities.  This includes designing for those who want to age in place or just want to design or decorate for the long term.   I have been doing tons of research on Accessibility in Decor and Design- not just for the handicapped but for everyone.  One of the things I am concentrating on learning more about in the design and architectural field is the emphasis on designing for the Individual, not the mass population. 

What the heck does that mean you ask?  That means making the space fit to the person or people who are living in the home.  For instance, a prevalence in homebuilding and decorating in Southeast Idaho (Pocatello, Idaho Falls) is the use of brown.  Most homes in home shows and the local home magazines feature walls that are painted brown or dark taupe.  There is very little deviation from this trend.  While this is very trendy and looks pretty, there is a factor that happens as you age, your eyes also don’t see as well as they used to and things seem darker.  Add to the aging process and an already dark space and you have a recipe for disaster and even depression.  Older eyes require more light to see things clearly, the dark walls will absorb the light creating an even darker space. Did you know that as you get older your tired eyes see more yellowed colors? 

Another thing currently trendy are very shiny wood floors and lots of ceramic tile, even marble or very slick tile in the bathrooms and showers.  I have to say, they all looked great but what about the slip factor? These finishes are potentially dangerous to everyone.  Consider an engineered wood floor or easy care laminates or textured tile though grout is a maintenance hassle.

Another thing is the use of granite; everywhere there was granite.  I realize granite is a status symbol to many people but is someone who is on a limited income in there 60’s and 70’s going to want to be sealing it once a year or more and how about the fumes created by sealing and the energy required by the person to seal the granite?  You may be saying you aren’t in your 60’s or 70’s but chances are quite good that you will eventually be there.  Our population is aging and Baby-Boomers are already in their 50’s and even older.  If you really want the look of granite, go with a quartz product like Silestone quartz: it never needs sealed, it is extremely strong and it is not porous.  A good alternative for a countertop are the good old laminate countertops.  They are are not your grandparents countertops by golly!  The new countertops look great, are very easy care and are great for the budget minded like those on a limited income.  One caution is to not go with a high gloss countertop because they scratch and can’t be repaired.   

Another trend in homes today are the prevalence of very tall cabinets in the kitchens that look amazing but create logistical problems as we age.  A woman in her sixties who has a touch of Arthritis can not get to things on the higher shelves. 

There are so many products now that allow you customize and make your home more accessible and safe.  Pull-outs and inserts in cabinets are a wonderful help.  Varied heights of workspaces are great with helping various accessibilities.  Even children benefit when there are lower height work surfaces.  Consider appliance finishes and how they can be very shiny and sleek as in the stainless steel refrigerators.  A person with restricted movement is going to have a hard time wiping fingerprints off.  Choosing a textured stainless steel look gives you the look without so many finger prints.  Even the placement of the microwave should be considered because it is very unsafe for a child or anyone who is shorter lifting down a hot dish from an over the range microwave.  The NKBA recommends placing the microwave controls below 48” (that is 4’).  The normal kitchen countertop location is actually the best place as long as you have a space beside it for placing the hot items when you take them out.

There are so many things that can be planned for a done make your home safer and more comfortable.  Before choosing the latest, hottest trend when you are building or remodeling consider if it will stand the test of time- your time.  A good designer, decorator can help you with your choices.  If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.  Thanks for reading and take care.

What: Design for the Future- Simple Things to Help Your Aging and Disabled Clients Live Safely and Comfortably
What benefits will you receive for attending? Advice and Guidance for Accessible Space Design Handy References for Design and Decorating Room Planning Guidelines Booklet Easy Decorating Tips and Techniques to incorporate into your projects to Help your clients Tips on How to make yourself marketable to the Baby Boomers hoping to Age In Place A Continuing Education Credit
When: Friday, March 12, 2010 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Where: Westin Crown Center Hotel

1 East Pershing Road
Kansas City, Missouri 64108   United States

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