What is it that makes planning for the future so challenging? Is it that we fail to take the time to plot and scheme? Is it that we are afraid that we might get it wrong? And why is it that some people make planning out their lives, their careers, their vacations in vivid detail like it was second nature?
Recently I learned news from a client that got me to thinking about the real benefits and value of planning ahead before one is forced into making plans, occasionally due to unexpected happenstance and very often, plans that are made with haste.
Take this client for instance.
A fall from a short ladder in their home was certainly unexpected but as she remarked during a call with me this week, she stated in her very Southern drawl to me,… “not to worry.” Thankfully, there were no broken bones, just a facture, a concussion and a lot of bruises and a few days in the hospital but she was able to skip out on the traditional rehab process.
One reason for the very short stay in the hospital and quickly home was that her residence had been designed to increase her personal safety and security. And by having such “universal design” features built in, she didn’t have to go into a rehab facility, heading instead back to the comfort of her own home to recuperate. And the prescribed physical therapy she would need would be provided in the comfort of her bed and bedroom.
I will gladly take part of the credit for helping her to make this short trip from hospital to home because ten years back, I educated her on the value of planning and plotting for the future and by making plans for the unexpected such as the way the interior was designed. And during the interior remodeling process, I ensured that certain design elements would be incorporated into the spaces just in case something might occur in the future.
Wider doors and halls, a European entry to her master bathroom shower, textured tile flooring, balance bars securely installed in appropriate locations and a nearly flat and level entry path all the way from the car to the front door all added up to a home design that accommodated her short-term disability.
Best thing about the home perhaps is that you’d never realize that all those design elements were expected to perform when the unexpected occurred, each quietly in the background all these years, as transparent to the eye as clear glass is to a window.
While it is not something many like to consider, things like this can and do happen.
After all, making quick decisions is not something one should be doing just after an accident or responding to a critical health issue such as a stroke. Planning one’s home for the future is just as important a task as having health insurance or executing a financial plan to support retirement. It just makes common sense.
Towards the end of the call with my client, she told me the accident had forced her to cancel her much anticipated trip to Australia this fall, one that she had been planning for at least a year.
“ah,…That’s a bummer.” I replied.
She quickly retorted with a great quote by Allen Saunders, an author and cartoonist, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
I smiled knowing that she was absolutely right and that she was probably already planning and plotting for Australia for next spring.
And I was glad that my interior designs provided comfort when she needed it most. But that is what interior design does. Interior design is much less about how a space looks or the colors we choose. It is more about the connection it makes to the clients and their lives.
8/13/2014 03:43:00 am
Great article and so nice to learn that your client took your advice and design expertise and that she was able to return back home sooner than later. I had to bring my partner back from the hospital and rehab after a car accident and clearly we were not prepared for all the things that we take for granted in our home. More people need to take your advice and plan for the things that happen to them. Thanks for sharing.
8/13/2014 12:27:55 pm
Many thanks Barbara for your comment. I think the issue is that many people are in denial. • With health and science permitting people to live longer active lives, it never occurs to them to plan the design of their home the same way they plan their finances, or purchase a car or even take a trip.
Steve + Butch
8/13/2014 12:13:44 pm
We never expected to care for my mom but after a stroke, she wasn't able to go home by herself and her finances didn't permit a care giver. So we brought her into our home.
8/13/2014 12:23:00 pm
Steve and Butch,... thank you for your comments and story. It is never easy to become caregivers for a loved one or friend but some are called to that anyway. • Be grateful that the owners of the home you purchased were planning and plotting for their future and those who might occupy the house after them....and BTW: the value of such "updated" properties that allow owners to remain in home or "age in place" see their property increase in value since there are 76 million Baby Boomers ready to retire and will look for houses that have the "right stuff" already.
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Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Desert, 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.