Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a new client and her husband, both now in their late 60s, and during the initial interview discovered that they had never engaged the services of an interior designer, despite having built a new home, and remodeled two others during their some 39 years of marriage. It seems it was never something that occurred to them.
But in their newest project, they felt the need to reach out to a professional who might be able to present fresh ideas and help coordinate the numerous decisions that are a part of any significant remodeling project such as theirs,... a three bedroom, three bath condominium in a gated community in Indian Wells, CA.
One of the "new" ideas we discussed - new at least for them - was to incorporate the seven principles of universal design into the interior to help reduce and/or eliminate architectural barriers... you know,... those pesky things in a residence that hamper mobility and independence.
I could tell by their reaction that this was something fairly radical to them. "Just imagine... a home with greater accessibility, no matter age or ability. Just imagine... a home that supports independent living. Just imagine... a home that sustains the quality of life."
As I moved thru the interview, they began to respond well to the concepts such as wider doors and halls, levers on the doors rather than knobs, increased lighting levels and a no-step entry into the home. But as they contemplated such ideas, including a no-curb shower, they expressed real concerns that their home would begin to look like,.. and in their words..."like it was built for someone who was crippled."
I wasn't surprised at their response. I have heard similar concerns over the last 25 years. But I was quick to respond... "Why not have a home that can "grow" with you, adapt to your needs and give you an increased measure of safety and all the while,...just looking smart and sexy?" They were yet not convinced so I needed to show them a few ideas.
We had just recently completed an "accessible" master bathroom project in Palm Desert, CA and the results were amazing. Sharing the photos with them, they began to see my vision... a space for now and forever. An interior that is accessible, functional and nearly maintenance free. A home that will make living just more comfortable. A design that is amazing to live with. And the plus side... increased value should they decide to sell it at some point.
Master Bathroom Project Featuring Accessible Design Elements
This bathroom features many universal design features including lower counter tops, non-slip flooring, handles on faucets, doors and drawers, increased levels of lighting, a European entry into the shower, and a bench inside the shower. The shower floor has low-voltage wiring that gently heats the floor and the "sliced" mosaic stones creates a texture to reduce the possibility of slipping on the wet floor. The tub has a small deck that creates a "seat" so one sits and turns into the tub.
Well.. after seeing the photographs of that bathroom, it still took a little persistence and prodding to get the clients to accept my design concepts but they are now engaged and fully onboard with the ideas. Currently, we are interviewing contractors to build our team, explaining our vision of accessibility and applying universal design principles to the interior, educating each team worker how important such elements are in helping these clients stay in place.
• But it isn't easy.
After explaining the scope of the work and the "accessibility" features we had put in the clients' design to the very first contractor we interviewed, he responded, "I just don't see the value but I guess,...to each his own."
Ok. Well,...Thank You Very Much.
• Next Contractor.
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.