Top Ten Design Tips: Number 5
#5 Design For Accessibility
Believe it or not, everyone gets older. Yup, its true. But no matter the age most everyone faces some physical disability of some sort during a lifetime. It can be as simple as the need for glasses to read a book or drive a car. Sometimes accidents can result in a temporary need for crutches or a walker. But that doesn’t mean that your home or work environment should be a road block to recovery. That is where “universal design” comes in. It means creating spaces that have the broadest use by the largest number of people no matter the disability. It can be as simple as wider doors or halls. It might be a bathroom with a bath on the first floor. Consider how easy it would be to use a shower without the customary threshold that many stumble over getting in and out of the entry. For some it can be important to have at least one entry way without a tall threshold. So think about these important factors in the design of your space so as to have the greatest accessibility, adaptability + flexibility that will span a lifetime.
Top Ten Design Tips: Number 4
#4 Have One Focal Point
Every room needs a focal point,…something that when you walk into the space grabs your eye and attention before anything else. It can be a fireplace or a set of windows. It can be the striking design of a cabinet or a large unique piece of art. Ideally it will be tall, moving your eye toward the ceiling and back to the floor. Furnishings, especially seating groups should face or frame the focal point by arrangement and position. But what if a room has all of these things? A few rooms are lucky to have such character but to be successful, there should be one most important focal point, one that everything else from there flows about the environment.
Top Ten Design Tips: Number 3
#3 Style Is Not A Trend
Develop a clear idea of style. Style is the statement about the space, how you feel when in the interior + for some what it represents to others about you. Perhaps you are a person into comfort and easy maintenance, or perhaps you are a creative individual who would loves to entertain. Maybe its a clean, parred down space with minimal numbers of pieces. Whatever your personality, begin now by narrowing down the specific style you will be comfortable living with for the long haul. Style has less to do with trend and more about the character of furnishings, architectural appointments, lighting, and accessories. Remember, being specific is the key here for its not a trend for the week, the month or year. Make a list of qualities, draw a picture, cut pictures out of magazines do whatever you can to get as specific a picture as you can. Find elements that not only define you but that inspire you. What’s your style?
Top Ten Design Tips: Number 2
#2 Color Creates Mood. The most affordable thing that one can do to freshen up a space is with color. It can create unexpected impact, make a space larger, cozy up a retreat or facelift a boring environment. Keep in mind a few important details about color.
• Active colors include yellow, orange and red. These hues work well in social and entertaining rooms. They make a positive, inspiring statement with their energetic and upbeat attitude. Reds and oranges excite and invigorate. Lemon and golden yellows spark creativity and are excellent choices for home offices and kitchens. Our very favorite colors for sun drenched backgrounds are: Benjamin Moore: Oklahoma Wheat and also Kansas Grain.
• Passive colors are from the cool side of the color wheel. Blue, green and purple stay quietly in the background to calm and restore. Use them in rooms primarily designed for resting and rejuvenating—bathrooms and bedrooms, for example. Also consider the direction of the light that is coming into the space. Cooler tones work especially well when a room’s orientation is due west.
• Neutral colors are the diplomats of decorating. They blend, combine and incorporate, bridging together different rooms and colors. Darker neutrals tone down other colors while crisp white intensifies them. “Neutral” neutrals, those mid-town colors that are hard to name without two or more words to describe them are quite effective when used with very flat, very matt finishes as opposed to satin or shiney ones.
We are frequently asked to suggest a few basic hints to update their interior especially with the holidays approaching and with snowbirds heading south to Florida. With some thought, we easily came up with ten techniques. Here is our list, starting with first things first and the other nine to come along in the next few days.
#1 Start with Function. No matter how good a space may appear, it has to function for its intended purpose or the room is well,..just a pretty room. [ Might as well put up velvet ropes and sell tour tickets.] With the cost of real estate, any non-performing asset suggests that a change may be needed to achieve the full return on the investment. Places should work + support its occupants no matter the age or physical ability and when they don’t, they conflict with mobility, safety and productivity. Magazines are filled with pretty rooms that capture visual attention but very often lack the functionality required to really be support life as we know it.
• So before doing anything, start with ensuring that everyone’s daily activities and routines are well defined. Make a list of what works, what doesn’t work and then begin to think about how to develop solutions. Perhaps its the need for more storage but equally it might be just a time to pitch and toss. You might need to edit down those 45 picture frames on the desk and give away that stack of well read books that no longer have a place in the bookshelves. Now here is where it gets tough. Inventory which furniture + fixtures are essential and clearly support the functions required in the interior…. and then get rid of what doesn’t work even if it leaves a work or home environment sightly on the sparse side of things for a temporary time. You will be surprised at what you can live without. And less furniture + fixtures means less maintenance + up keep and a room that looks appears larger. It will take time to get used to but with a cleaner canvas, you’ll be able to visualize the size and shape of new pieces that may be required to make the space fully functional. Architect Louis Sullivan adopted the motto “form follows function” and he was right. Don’t let excess or non-essential pieces impead function.
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.