It has been a long while since our blog was updated and the website spiffed up but you see,...we've been busy. Since we opened on El Paseo in Palm Desert in the fall of 2016, we've been happily working on a good number of interesting projects, designing golf club facilities, meeting rooms and their dining spaces, assisting with a full remodel of a client's single family home, two kitchen updates, master plan for a estate residence and of course, ....getting acclimated in our new studio.
We were blessed to find such a good location and so happy to have great business neighbors along El Paseo. And while there are things we miss about the Palm Springs downtown experience, this location is much more centered to the valley and to our growing family of clients.
We have expanded our product offerings in several areas,... from flooring to window coverings to upholstered goods and developed partnerships with several main line furniture manufacturers. And we are still passionate about something. We remain advocates for sustainable and barrier-free design in all interiors, from condos to castles, from second homes to weekend getaways. We love creating spaces that support independency, no matter age or ability, while making it both function and look great.
By Michael A. Thomas, FASID, CAPS
When a potential client called to discuss how we design kitchens (and bathrooms, and provide the cabinets thru DuraSupreme) I was amazed by their desire for a new kitchen to be in their words "the size of a football field." Don't get me wrong. Large family style kitchens where everyone is around can be both a culinary and a social space. But setting aside acres of floorspace for a kitchen that may be frequently used to make "reservations" at a favorite bistro instead of making mom's baked apple pie would seem to be a waste of space and dollars too.
The longer we spoke it became apparent that what they really wanted was an efficient kitchen space and they had determined that by making the kitchen larger, they would achieve their goal.
As a designer of many such spaces and as the primary cook in my household, I am certainly qualified to give them advice about how best to make a kitchen that works efficiently as well as effectively. And while additional space is always a luxury, it does not necessarily make a kitchen work any better. So after being the chef of the house for some 30 years, here are three brief suggestions for designing a fabulous kitchen that works just as hard as the cook does.
(1) Be Realistic.
Pare down to the basics. The old saying "Keep It Simple" applies here. Do you really need a waffle iron, an electric skillet, a food processor and a George Forman's Burger Grill up on the counter at the same time? And what about those 7 packets of taco seasoning that somehow get pushed deep into the pantry closet?
Establish your kitchen's "design core" around only the most frequently used appliances and food stuff. And if you are given the latest and greatest kitchen gadget but only use it on special occasions, find a location so they don't get in the way of what you need to use on a regular and daily basis. And get rid of all the outdated taco seasoning packets and use fresh salsa instead. Spices should NOT be purchased in bulk unless you are a restaurant because they loose their potency in as little as 30 days.
(2) Think Zones:
As you contemplate a new layout, think about the main activities that occur or what can be called “zones.” Cooking, • Baking and • Cleaning. (Some would also suggest "eating" should be considered as a kitchen activity but perhaps it should be someplace other than over the kitchen sink.)
--COOKING: When it comes to cooking, arrange all the required tools around the cooktop. Pans, pots and utensils should be stored so that they can be pulled out easily during the cooking process. Organize all the drawer and door cabinets with as many dividers, rollouts and racks as possible. This helps keep the storage efficient and provides a somewhat defined location for each pot and pan, spatula and spoon after they are washed up. And besides, you will spend less time in the kitchen if you can find the items you need as quickly as you need them.
--BAKING: The process of creating something hot from the oven is for many a lost art in the era of microwaves. Some would say they just don't have the time. But with even a small space devoted to baking with all the necessary tools and supplies at hand, one can quickly appreciate the fine art of baking. Think warm bread or cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven. YUM. Plan on devoting even a small amount of counterspace that can be used just for baking such as stirring together food and rolling out pie crusts. Another tip is to keep everything else cleared away from the landing pads nearest the oven so there is a space to sit a hot dish down when it has been in the oven at 375 degrees for one hour. Keep mixers, ladles, containers, cake and pie pans separate from all other items since you wouldn't necessarily use them in the cooking zone.
--CLEANING: Whether in a small or large kitchen, clean up should occur as an ongoing process. When finished with the vessels, pans and utensils, place them near or in the sink to free up other zones. I am a proponent of a large single compartment sink as it provides a singular space to accumulate all the things that will eventually be washed or placed in the dishwasher. And include a hefty, well built garbage disposer to that sink. Also I am not fond of those very tiny veggie sinks. But if you do, add a garbage disposer to it as well to add to the functionality. You might choose drawer style dishwashers that provide certain benefits like quick loading times, shorter wash cycles plus generally use less water and energy.
(3) Go Tech.
These days technology has changed the way we do many of the routine tasks. As an example, cookbooks that can clutter counters and shelves can be replaced by an access to the Internet. Set aside a small clean, clear space for the laptop, tablet or even cell phone to browse and discover the best apple pie recipes. And all those favorite recipes that have been collected over time can be scanned, saved to a computer and referred to in a matter of minutes. In my household, a fully wireless tiny flat panel TV sits on one counter and provides access to the news, checking my emails and the latest recipes on the Net. Because it connects without a wire (other than the electrical cord when charging the battery) it can easily move out of the way when I need the space.
So there you have it. Three quick concepts for making a kitchen a place to come back to, not just for making reservations, but a truly home cooked meal with all the trimmings.
In these days it is hard for consumers to differentiate one business from another. One promises personalized services, while another offers an amazing sale. And then again, yet another one says they can have it product delivered with free shipping. It can be confusing to make the choice with whom to do business.
And when it comes to figuring out what design firm to hire or even if you need or want an interior designer, it just isn't always easy. And we get that.
Take for instance, Hilton and Marriott Hotels. Both strive to offer their guests a quality experience and expectation. Same thing with Delta and American Airlines. What often sets these businesses apart is often a the choice of “location, location, location”.
Consider Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
Both grocers say their unique selection and quality goods keeps customers coming back. Each has created a strong brand and a loyal following. It may be hard to compare them in the marketplace, though Trader Joe’s is now whopping Whole Foods butt with very competitive pricing. So consumer choice could be about price.
What about the difference between Ford and Toyota? Both produce equally reliable vehicles with lots of price points. Making a choice of one SUV over the other is often about the style and design.
Recently we were invited to freshen up a New Jersey project in a high rise building overlooking Manhattan, a residence that we had fully renovated for a the client in 2002. And it got us to thinking about what motivated the client to return to us for this work.
In contemplating those thoughts, we concluded it was a choice,… that this client believes their interior design experience would again be rewarding and successful as it had in the past. Sure, it is the expectation of good service and quality design and competitive price, but beyond that, what factors sets set us apart from the pack? We put pencil to paper and came up with these five things that set us apart.
1. We Are Practical In Our Design And Organized In Our Projects
The design of an interior is first and foremost about function. If a space doesn’t do what is intended, then no matter how good it may look, it will at some point be a failure. So we work hard to make sure that the design we offer has practicality built into its DNA. And for a project to be successful, ordered, checked on, delivered and installed, it has to be organized and managed well.
We spend a lot of time documenting, communicating, explaining, cajoling and it shows at the time of installation. Nothing ever works like clockwork in this profession. It is how you handle the unexpected that can determine the success of the project and one has to be organized to manage those challenging times.
2. We Do Not Follow The Trends; We Follow The Clients
Trends in design are deadly because if you get caught up in a certain style and it falls out of favor, the interior will appear dated in a short period of time. Think about past designs like harvest gold appliances, lava lamps and paisley-printed recliners covered in Herculon fabric. OK… perhaps I am showing my age as a mid-century modern baby boomer. But the best design, the one that is timeless, is the one that reflects the good taste of the client. And if the client doesn’t have good taste, then there is always the interior designer. One comment we hear regularly is that our projects just don’t look like one another. We LIKE to hear that because it means we’ve been following the desires of the client and interpreting those desires into a well designed space.
3. The Three “E’s” Top It All : Expertise, Education and Experience
Effective design does not happen because someone has a good flair for placing pillows. Effective design happens because it is built on a certain expertise, ongoing education and years of experience. Those three “e’s” give the design professional the ability to handle difficult issues when if they arise or if something goes sideways. And difficulties do arise and things do go sideways.
But being engaged with the client and the project means handling the challenges quickly and finding solutions to those challenges. It is also important to know when just the right design is working and when to edit and delete. We see many interiors where the space is so busy, the eye doesn't have a chance at absorbing what the design statement is about. That takes skill and patience. (And by the way, we are quite adept in placing pillows with the appropriate karate chop in the middle. )
4. We Are Very Hands On And Some Times Our Hands Get Dirty.
We know some designers who infrequently get out of their office and inspect their job sites. You can’t be a designer by sitting in front of a computer and drawing cabinets and creating specifications. We believe that the designer needs to be checking out the progress of the work from time to time and in nearly all cases, is on the job site during deliveries and installations. After all, you can’t write a specification on how to toss a pillow so it lands just perfect in the corner of that tuxedo sofa sectional. You have to be there to toss the pillow, check the wall paint color, help with the delivery of the kitchen cabinets, place the rug on the floor just right, install the light bulbs in the lamps and hang the art. And that’s why sometimes our hands get dirty.
5. We Build Relationships That Endure With Clients and Colleagues.
Finally, we have clients that we have done and continue to do business with for nearly thirty years. And we have accounts with our vendors such as Palecek Furniture that go back an equal amount of time. It is about building relationships that become meaningful assets in the long term.
And just like the New Jersey client that is having us back this summer, we are comfortable with one another and our expectations are high. That comes from not just doing the job right but being right with the client.
Interior design is about creating spaces that impact the human experience. And great design when created with care and experience creates an opportunity for the client to enjoy their life with family and friends over time.
It has taken a bit of time, energy and fortitude but our new place is just about ready to rock and roll. After nearly four months of renovation and remodeling, our new offices and studio will officially open November 4th. Check out this press release that says it all.
Interior Design Studio Celebrates Grand Opening On Famed El Paseo Drive
The Design Collective Group, Inc. celebrates the grand opening of their new interior design studio and offices at 73290 El Paseo Drive in Palm Desert, CA on Friday, November 4, 2016. The business relocated to Palm Desert from downtown Palm Springs this summer to be more regionally located to their client base. Grand opening festivities begin at 4:30 on Friday and continue thru the weekend.
The design firm was founded by nationally known interior designer, speaker and author, Michael A. Thomas, in 1996. The firm’s expansive design portfolio includes residential projects from La Quinta, CA to Las Vegas and from Palm Beach, FL, to New York. Commercial projects include the historic restoration of the Welwood Murray Memorial Library in Palm Springs, CA., and the redesign of the three clubhouses for Sun City Palm Desert Country Club in Palm Desert, CA.
In 2014 and 2016, Houzz.com awarded the firm with “Best Of Houzz for Client Satisfaction” based on client reviews submitted. And Thumbtack.com awarded the firm The Best Of 2015 and the Best of 2016 for the high level of customer service and satisfaction.
Thomas is a Fellow of the American Society of Interior Designers (FASID) and a Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) and has been published in national media including Palm Springs Life, Time Magazine, Dwell Magazine, The Desert Sun, Florida Home + Garden, Christian Science Monitor and the Miami Herald. He has also been featured on a HG-TV and the Travel Channel with a video story about one of his award winning ocean front projects. He is the co-author of Residential Design For Aging In Place, the first book to address the accessible design of homes for some 76 million baby boomers.
In continuing his service to the design community and expanding his volunteer activities, Thomas is one of the founders of the Design Alliance for Accessible, Sustainable Environments (DAASE) and is currently serving as the National President of the 501(c) 3 non-profit educational organization.
After four years in a showroom in beautiful downtown Palm Springs, CA, it was time for a change. As we grew our business, we began to feel just a bit overcrowded. And though we had maxxxed our the storage space a couple of years back, our lease was not over until July of this year... so we stuck it out making the best of the space that we could.
But as we begin to think about the future of the business and the type of space we wanted, we also began to realize that a new location and yes... a new city and zip code might be the right thing.
So in late January, we began the search for a place that would be more central to our clients, a location that would be closely matched to our client demographics and a space that would provide more space and more square feet. After all,... samples take up more square feet that you might think they would. And having a robust library with all the design tools we need to create amazing spaces isn't just a luxury.... it is a necessity.
As we begin the process and search to identify a new place, location and space, it became obvious that Palm Desert would be the place, El Paseo would be the location and a storefront in the middle of well known businesses would be the space.
In late June, we signed the lease for the new space, created a plan for the interior layout, did a little demo on the interior, painted, carpeted and then, whew... moved the offices and showroom from Palm Springs to Palm Desert, CA in late July. Since then we have been busy unpacking, assembling, setting up, moving around, installing and... unpacking over 100 decent sized boxes. Did I say unpacking?
We are still not open yet and that's OK. We are still tweaking the space. Plus... we still don't have an Internet connection ( Thank you Time-Warner for the 4-6 week delay ) plus we have an ongoing body of work with existing clients that need attention.
But soon.... by mid-September we think... we will be officially opening the doors. And in the fall, we will have our grand re-opening,.. hopefully with an Internet connection.
Thanks for all the emails and phone calls to wish us the best. We will be in touch as soon as the unpacking is over and we can send emails directly from our new office. And if you have any influence with Time-Warner, let us know.
The right interior design can transform a drab, dated and dilapidated interior into a stylish, cozy and welcoming place to enjoy. The problem for some is that even when they want a professional looking space, many don’t often consider hiring a designer.
It may be because of the myths and misconceptions that have latched onto interior design services over the years. While some may have a small grain of truth, most highly exaggerated. Let’s displace non-truths with some discourse on the subject.
Myth #1.” I can’t afford to hire an interior designer. “
An interior design firm is like any professional business. They will scale their work to fit the needs of the client. We have clients who just need help in establishing a general direction, while some others want to have us take their vision and create a master design plan. Design professionals are particularly cost effective when there are complex issues to address such as the remodel of a kitchen or an addition to an existing residence. Plus we are often called up to help select the team of contractors to ensure that the design is implemented correctly and the work is done appropriately.
The real value of an interior designer is how much they can save in on costly mistakes or by offering alternatives that you may not have considered for the interior while keeping to a desired budget.
Myth #2. “My place isn’t good enough to hire a design professional.”
An experienced interior designer has the vision to see the potential of your surroundings. That is one of the most important components of design we bring to the table every time we start working with a client. We also know how important it is to not “over-design” the real estate. Everyone wants an interior to look great but you also want to get back a return on the investment you make in the design should you decide to sell.
Myth #3. “I can do it myself so why would I want to hire a designer?”
Shopping for furnishings and fabrics can be fun for many. And the Internet has opened the doors to many more options for the consumer than in years past. But designers have relationships with suppliers and vendors that can provide items you might never be able to find yourself in the retail establishments.
And when it comes to the other elements of design, interior professionals will first consider how a space is to function, rather than how it will look. Designers will also address the needs for lighting and maintenance and will ensure a home is a place to live safely and securely, no matter the age or ability. Plus in this age of technology, planning a “smart home” can mean simply getting the outlets and connections located ahead of time to operate the TVs that might hang on the wall and the appropriate placement of your computer, printer, modem and other tech equipment so it can be used effectively.
Myth #4. “Designers’ personal own homes are picture perfect.”
You’ve probably heard the expression, “A cobbler’s children go without shoes.” For many of us in the profession, this is very true. It also means the last home we design is usually our own. Most of my own design colleagues have homes that are a collection of furniture, accessories and art that have been assembled over time. While that doesn’t mean that the space is picture perfect, it is usually just perfect for, that is, until such time that they find another piece to bring into the home and make space for it.
My own home is a unique time capsule, with pieces that have become treasures to enjoy from a variety of resources as diverse as Baker, Schumacher, West Elm, IKEA and Palecek. When mixed with an antique Coromandel screen, an Asian tapestry rug, a contemporary white leather sofa and an odd collection of art and object d’art, it reflects my own individuality.
Keep in mind something else we truly believe in: Design is always an evolution, changing with the times and subject to a sudden inspiration. The best interiors are never meant to be static. They should develop, grow and change with the owners and occupants.
Myth #5. “Designers will do what they want + not what I will want.”
Being a good designer means listening carefully to the client and understanding the client’s objectives long before we put pencil to paper or use a computer mouse to draw a space and create the design on a computer screen. There certainly are designers who have a single style and taste, just as you find in clothes or cars. Ralph Lauren is a good example. But in our office, we strive to create a space that is unique to the client. This ensures that the result is an interior that reflects the needs of the client and showcases their personality.
You should also remember, once you have selected your designer, let them do their magic. With three decades of work, we can say that none of our projects look like any of the others. Want proof? Check out our portfolio of design projects. You will see a great diversity in our designs, each just as unique as the client.
And finally, if you've done your due diligence and you like your designer, relax, enjoy the journey and take their advice. That's why you hired them in the first place.
Whether a single space or a complete home, remodeling any place isn't ever all that easy. There are many and numerous decisions that need to be made.
And we should know. With more than 30 years of experience, we have assisted clients in making the right decisions and getting everything on a firm foundation to begin with.
First of all,there are all those pesky decisions that need to be made and questions to be answered.
- What style and color?
- How much should this cost?
- Will it be worth the investment over time?
- How much of a disruption will there be in your life?
But just as important a design decision is assembling your design team and that means hiring the contractor for the project. Many clients we work with have great apprehensions about that part of the project and with good reason. It isn't always easy to find the right mix of personality, workmanship, business ethics and reliability no matter the field or profession including the profession of general contracting. Sometimes it is a gut reaction about how they presented themselves or the work they have done in the past. After all, good client referrals should be an important deciding factor.
But there are other ways to help make such important decisions and to make sure the relationship you build doesn't fall apart in the middle of the work.
Here are some tips we wanted to share.
#1 Make all the design decisions that you can up front. Decide all the things you hope for before you bring in the contractor,... even the little details. Make a wish list of the things you'd "like to have" but are not able to commit to because you don't have all the information you need. And if you don't have a clue at all about what might be possible, that is where we come in as your designers.
#2 Request that contracting bids be submitted in writing with all the details and terms clearly explained. And of course, that would lead to having a written contract with a timeline, payment schedule and how changes to the work will be handled.
#3 Request the names of past clients who would be willing to let you see the work they have completed in the recent past. That way you will be able to see the "fit and finish" of the work they have done.
#4 Before you sign on that dotted line, verify the license and make sure it is in good standing by visiting your state's governing license board. In California, it is called: Contractors State License Board(CSLB) and you get get more information by going online to: www.cslb.ca.gov - or - calling (1) 800-321-2752.
#5 Ask whether your contractor carries general liability insurance and worker's compensation for any directly hired employees. Call your homeowner's insurance agent to ensure you are covered should some unforeseen circumstance occur such as water damage due to a broken pipe.
#6 You might try to research your contractor's name online for additional reviews but you should also consider the source. We have found that some referral sites are not as "accurate" as others so check more than one.
#7 Any contractor performing $500 worth or work or more ( including materials and labor ) must be licensed by the CSLB to work in California. Also, contractors cannot ask for a deposit of more than 10% of the total cost of the job or $1,000 at the inception of the project.
#8 Find out directly from your local building department whether your project needs a building permit and confirm that your contractor will obtain all necessary permits.
By following these tips and tricks, the decisions that you need to make will lay the foundation for a better remodeling project. If you have questions or other concerns, you can post your comments below. Or just give us a call and we'll do our best to start you out in the right direction. (760) 322-3784
It is often an accepted norm in our society that what’s good for one must be good for all. And it would certainly seem to apply to the concepts and design philosophies of aging in place.
But the “one size fits all” philosophy may just not be the case since people age differently based on health, socio-economics or the region of the country they live in. Their needs may be different if they have to deal with a genetic disability at an early age or have an accident that is crippling. And our homes may not easily accommodate short visits by an elder guest or longer stays by an ailing family member.
So a “curated design approach” may be the right solution to better address one’s individual needs. Here are some examples.
--Aging in place conventions often indicate that taller toilet seats are the best choice, those approximately 2 inches taller than traditional toilets, and make sitting down and standing up easier. But are they are not right for everyone, especially if one is shorter than 5’4”?
• Solution? Consider the height of the individuals before choosing to swap out a toilet for a taller one.
--Keeping a bathroom or a kitchen clean and sanitary is a necessity to avoid the build up of bacteria, a serious problem for those who may have an immune deficiency or compromised systems.
• Solution? Sealing all floors, tiles and counters with a penetrating sealer and installing a humidistat switch that turns an exhaust fan on and off in response to changing humidity levels, can reduce and may eliminate the build-up of mold and mildew.
--At first glance, walk-in tubs seem like such a great idea over a conventional tub. But it’s complicated. While water can be quite therapeutic, these tubs may not be for everyone. To use one of these tubs, there is a step up thru then a rather small watertight door that requires a bit of negotiation to get up the step and into the interior.
Then one must move about to be able to close the door to be seated. Once seated, there is wait for several minutes the water to fill and once the bathing is complete, another wait for the water to drain before the door can be unlocked to exit.
• Solution? With prices that can be upwards of $15,000 installed, a better investment may very well be a size appropriate shower with a bench, a balance bar, floor drain and no curb at the entry.
--Building in a bench in a shower is a great idea. But is it for everyone? Often benches are placed away from the controls and shower head, sometimes designed near the entry to the space. As a result, they often become a place to prop up a leg or a place for the shampoo bottle.
• Solution? A moveable bench or a portable stool may be a better concept since one can adjust the placement or take it out of the shower altogether to maximize the space for maneuvering around.
--Scalding of overly sensitive or thin skin by overly hot water can be devastating. And the concern isn’t just in a shower. Overly hot water can be a danger in the kitchen, utility and laundry.
• Solution? A simple preventive action can be taken thru the installation of a whole house anti-scald valve at the outlet line side of the hot water tank and set at no more than 120 degrees.
--Small houses and small bathrooms can be an issue when it becomes necessary to create an accessible space. But adding on to a home may not be practical nor cost effective.
• Solution? Consider a “cantilevered bump-out” on an exterior wall to add a much needed 15 to 20 square feet to the footprint of the bathroom. Even just that additional small amount of square feet can permit greater accessibility.
--Technological advances can provide support for one who desires to remain independent in their home. As an example WI-FI cameras might permit a caregiver to check in on a loved one from time to time. But they can be perceived as intrusive to some.
Solution? Evermind (https://evermind.us) helps families to keep an eye on an older loved one by monitoring the usage of something such as a light by the bed or appliance like a coffee pot. Families or caregivers can spot breaks in routines that might indicate there may be a problem. The Wi-Fi modules plug into standard outlets and messages are sent to caregivers about usage patterns.
--Personal security is a worry and concern with everyone these days, but for those with a mobility disability or living alone, it can be very disconcerting.
• Solution? Wi-Fi connected dead bolts and door cams provide extra security and convenience especially for those who may be bed ridden. Connected to a cell phone or an iPad, an individual maintains control over who can enter the residence.
--Many aging boomers express a desire to remain in their homes living an independent life they determine for themselves. But isolation, lack of support services and social interaction can and do present their own issues.
• Solution? More than a neighborhood, a “virtual village” gives elders a better chance to stay in their own home longer by creating communal support services that provide a variety of volunteer services in an area or region — including grocery delivery, lawn mowing and transportation — and also connect members with paid service providers who understand the challenges of the aging process.
And by bringing together a group of individuals with similar needs, the benefits provide a unique social connection, build an extended family network and eliminate the isolation that can come as friends and neighbors pass or move away.
--And finally, the words age and aging have a negative connotation in our society. No one wants to admit they are getting older and may not have all the functional abilities or faculties they once had. Nor do they want to give up their home, a place where families were raised, memories made, and mortgages were paid.
I have a unique passion for creating spaces that are safe and secure and that allow for anyone of any age or ability to remain in their home should they choose. And it seems that many of the 76 million baby boomers are choosing to do just that. But many are in denial about their age or ability and resistant to making changes to their residence that would help them "age in place"... or as I prefer to say it these days... Stay In Place.
So it wasn’t too long ago when I got a call from a prospective client who was asking if I could come to her house and make some recommendations for creating an accessible bath…. You know… the kind of bath that makes it safer and easy to get in and out of.
When I climbed the steps to the door, I was greeted thru a small window next to the entry door by a very large, well coiffed white standard-sized poodle. The bark was loud but it was easy to tell, she was a friendly beast.
The small door was edged opened by an equally small elder woman also with well-coiffed white hair. I introduced myself while she held this monumental dog from jumping all over me. Stepping in, I came thru the doorway noting the rather high threshold should be level or at least made smaller and the door should be wider if at all possible.
We exchanged pleasant greetings while I reached out to pat the dog, this sizeable animal excitably slipping and sliding on the tile floors to greet this new visitor. ( I got this visual in my brain of both this diminutive individual and a jumbo dog skating across the floor everyday to meet the mailman or Fed-ex driver or whomever climbed the steps to ring the doorbell.)
The lady led me thru the well-kept residence to a small bedroom and into the bathroom, a bath very typical of the mid-century homes in the neighborhood. (This one was caught in a time capsule, perfectly preserved in dove gray bath fixtures and petal pink ceramic tiles.)
“Here is my problem,” she said. “I can no longer lift Norma Desmond into the bathtub to give her a bath and I want one of those barrier free showers that I read about in my AARP magazine.” ( Another visual… this very sweet white-haired lady, who is not much bigger than her dog, trying to get Norma into the existing tub. ) “Of course,” I said grinning. “A curb-less shower entry would also make it easier when you need to shower on your own.”
And with a very straight face, she aptly replied, “I never thought of it that way. I usually just climb in next to Norma and take my bath along with her. After all, we are in a drought here in California.” ( Then another brain visual… these two entities, one very large and one very small, each with white hair, each soaking wet in a bathtub that was clearly made for one standard sized person, bathing together yet saving water. )
After discussing some of the details of how a new accessible shower would be designed, I explained that it would be good to have bench, a textured tile on the floor and plywood installed behind the tile walls so that a balance bar could be securely installed on it. Of course, I had to explain what a balance bar was… a much better name for a well-designed version of the typical gas-station grab bar. After a bit of thought, she clearly indicated that having a “grab” bar in the shower would make it ugly. “I doubt that Norma would like it either.”
(Hmm… didn’t know Norma had a vote but I was still visualizing she and Norma in that tub together and all that wet white stringy hair. )
We concluded our initial meeting and promised that I would get her a proposal for the design services we would provide. After putting some time in on the project, I called and let her know how we’d work and the time frame to get plans pulled together.
She provided her immediate blessing to move on with the design of her new accessible shower including the bench and the textured tile for the flooring but without any balance bar. When I asked, she said Norma doesn’t need it. When I asked her about would happen if she should suddenly fall. Without breaking for a breath, she said, “It won’t be a problem. Should something like that happen, I can always grab onto Norma if I go down..”
( Again another visual…. But I’d rather not go there right now. )
Sometimes people can be in denial even when they have a balance dog like Norma.
By: Michael A. Thomas, FASID, CAPS
The Design Collective Group Inc.
The kitchen is an important component of any home and getting it arranged properly to make the most of the space is critical. A kitchen can be filled with beautiful materials and high styled appliances but if the layout and space doesn't function as intended, it won’t be successful.
And because creating a new kitchen takes a lot of time, energy and dollars to get it just right, it makes good sense (and cents) to plan the kitchen on paper by first considering how you plan to use it before you think about how it will look.
We came up with five questions that can form the framework around which your design plans will develop. Grab a pencil and jot down the answers to the following:
(1) What types of cooking do you plan to do in your new space?
While cooking is a daily necessity for most, others look at it as a place to develop their culinary skills while, others see the kitchen as a space for entertaining. And if you do entertain, consider how you use the area… a casual affair or for a more a formal gathering?
(2) Who else may be using the space with you?
Consider the three critical tasks of prep, cook and clean-up and then think about the traffic patterns that you need in order to keep from crossing paths with others. Too many cooks can indeed spoil the broth when there are many in the same space. And if you entertain frequently or hire a caterer for special events, you might need an abundance of counter space.
(3) How long will you be in this residence?
A great kitchen that is both functional and attractive can provide you with a great return on your investment (more than any other room in the house), but kitchens can also be an arm and a leg. So in your budgeting, be cautious that you don’t over-design since you may not recoup the dollars spent. Consider the resale values of your neighbors and review what others may be doing to update their space. You might also speak with a real estate agent to provide some guidance.
(4) Which appliances are needed and which might be a luxury?
Cook tops, refrigerators, microwaves and ovens will make up the single largest expense in any kitchen. But while other kitchen equipment like a warming oven or a second dishwasher may seem like a luxury to some, it may be essential to you based on your specific needs, so identify what you might like to have and set aside a few dollars for any special piece of equipment at the beginning of your project.
(5) Do you, a member of your family or anyone who may visit have special needs due to a mobility issue?
Plan your kitchen to have added functionality. For instance, use handles instead of knobs, design cabinetry with full extension drawers and additional lighting can help everyone but may be really important to those who might be elder or have a physical impairment.
With answers to these questions in hand, your next step is to bring in the professionals. An interior designer or a kitchen planner who has a thorough understanding and wealth of experience in creating great kitchen spaces will be an important key to your success and to that of your kitchen.
And where do you start? Start by giving us a call. (760) 322-3784
Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Springs, CA. He is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a member of the ASID College of Fellows.
As a Certified Aging In Place Specialist, he creates smart looking spaces that are safe and secure and create homes for a lifetime.
And with thirty plus years in the profession, he has honed his humor, elevated his passion for design and sharpened his wit to not take anything too seriously except his design work.