By Michael A. Thomas, FASID, CAPS
For more than twenty years, I have been "secretly" encouraging my clients to accept certain design elements that increase safety and security so that they might choose to remain in their home for as long as they desire. After all no one ever wants to think about the unexpected occurrence but things do happen in life. And after all,...know one wants a "gas station-style grab bar" hanging around in a bathroom. ohh...yuck. As such, I specialize in keeping client secrets.... creating design plans that provide client spaces with a handsome design and all the while supporting their personal independence.
Such is the case with one Palm Desert, CA client that had a bathroom that needed help. Cabinets were drab. Lighting was abysmal. And one of the smallest phone booth-type showers I can recall seeing for a master bath. ( Seriously !! )
As we discussed the options, it did not take long for her to grasp the idea that by incorporating certain features in the bathroom, she could certainly have it all.... a "wow" kind of space, one that would be more effectively arranged and one that would allow her to "age in place."
While this project required the interior be gutted, it also provided the opportunity to move the shower to a new location, make it much larger and add several great features : a European entry, a teak bench, off-set water controls making it easier to turn the water on before stepping inside, dramatic lighting, a featured divider of glass blocks and a quite handsome "balance bar" on a stacked-slate accent wall.
Other features include a lowered make-up counter area with a teak bench next to a soak-style tub; a medicine cabinet that sits right on the counter making it much easier to reach; an abundance of lighting from a variety of sources; and an open area for the toilet-bidet combo unit surrounded by awesome color and great art - and a balance bar.
Now that the space is all done, one would never know about our little secret: a bathroom designed to be more than just pretty. While it features high style cabinetry and floor and counter finishes that are easy to maintain, this interior was designed to support the needs of the client, no matter age or ability. (Psst.... and I bet you'd never know it.)
That is the key to successful "aging in place" design.... a design that is transparent, functional, safe and secure. Of course, it must be great looking. But just don't tell anyone. They might want one, too.
The workshop will feature case studies of clients and showcase their homes that incorporate “universal design” solutions with high style aging-in-place features. And in case you have not met our founder and designer, Michael is a Fellow ( one of only 200 in the country) and Professional Member of ASID, the American Society Of Interior Designers. He is also he co-author of the professional book “Residential Design For Aging In Place.” He has been quoted and had projects published in various media including Dwell, Interiors + Sources, Time Magazine, the Miami Herald, Florida Home & Garden and a video segment on the Travel Channel.
“With 76 million baby boomers contemplating their future, now is the time to consider how and where they will live in safe, secure but also beautiful sustainable home environments,” he stated. “But it is important to know that aging-in-place designs are great for everyone, no matter the age or ability.”
There is no cost to attend but reservations are required and seating is limited. The event will be held at Design Pure + Simple, 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Showroom #103, Palm Springs, CA 92262.
And for those interested in Michael's book, a book signing will follow the event.
To make a reservation or for further information on this or other events this summer...
contact Design Pure + Simple at 760 - 322 - 3784, Ext 1 followed by the # key.
Also check out:
I recently wrote a blog post on my website www.iageinplace.com. In that blog, I provide simple concepts to keeping a home safe and secure that readers here would enjoy learning how easy it is to keep our independence no matter age or ability. Great design solutions will help to keep one's independence despite age and ability.
CLICK HERE to read all about the ideas.
As a Boomer myself, I have concerns about many things. If I live longer than my parents, how will I support myself when retirement resources dwindle? Will I become a caregiver for those I care about? Will health be an issue? What about health care costs?
A new poll says that my concerns are not unlike many other Baby Boomers who are facing the elder years with both positive expectations and a reflective sadness. According to the Associated Press survey, Boomers are amazingly confident about growing older, much more than the previous generation including watching their family grow up and be successful, doing more with family and friends that anticipated, and having the freedom to explore favorite activities in more depth such as traveling, even exploring a second career.
Among the top concerns, physical ailments that would take away their independence, losing their memory, and being unable to pay the health care costs. And as they look back on their own parents, many of which became less active in their later years, Boomers appeared determined not to follow the same path.
Other surveys including one by ASID, the American Society of Interior Designers, clearly indicates that boomers would prefer to stay in their home as they age. And with the right design changes made in advance of need, it is possible to not only "age-in-place" but do so with a higher measure of safety and security. Some are simple adaptations made like swapping out knobs for pulss, others require a weekend or two like installing a taller toiler while others such as creating a curbless shower - one without that nasty step-over - requires a bit of planning, design and expertise.
But imagine one client who "permitted" me to create a curbless shower for the master bathroom we were renovating who said directly after unexpected hip replacement surgery kept him off the golf course and in the hospital for nearly two weeks, "I can't believe that this would make such a difference in my life. I was able to come home early from the hospital and move quite easily into and out of the shower." That reaction is gratifying because for this Boomer, he was able to retain a measure of independence at a moment when he thought that he would need much more assistance from others like his long time companion or home health care aide.
And that's why developing a forward thinking master design plan now for the home is critical to one's independence and for Boomers, it adds to the peace of mind and comfort, resulting in a happier, healthier state. And speaking of happy, the AP pole found that 1 in 5 would consider cosmetic surgery.
To Lean More About The Design Concepts of Aging In Place, CLICK HERE.
To Read More About The Associated Press Poll, go to www.LifeGoesStrong.com
Several months back, a client in Rhode Island asked if he really needed a grab bar in the bathroom. He hated the way they looked and he thought that they would not match his new polished chrome plumbing fixtures with the overhead rain shower. So I asked him how important safety was in the home. He said that he intended to have a state-of-the-art, built-in security system installed as the home was being built. So I began to explain that safety and security goes well beyond an alarm system and that certain features like a curb-less shower and a level threshold at the main entry might help prevent accidents but just as important, would provide the opportunity to return home early from a hospital stay if something were to happen such as breaking a leg or hip.
He said, "Yes, I can see that might be but it's just the thought of other people seeing a bar in my bathroom and thinking that I am disabled." So I replied easily, "This is really about providing you with a measure of personal independence and not about what others may think about you." Then I reassured him that these concepts about aging in place are not a trend not a fad....and would raise the value and quality of life as we mature. By adding certain features in the design of our homes provides us with the opportunity to maintain our personal independence.... something that none of us would want to give up at any age or ability.
So I offered him creative design solutions including a great looking "grab bar" in a snazzy polished chrome finish that would provide the aesthetics he was really asking for but also he knew that in his heart, at 86 years young, he would be able to hang on to something in difficult times. And that something was his independence.
He passed away not too long ago but not after being in a place of his choosing for as long as he was able. We worked so well together in the design of his home and was excited to be able to move into it. He used that shower without a curb and even told me how great it was not to have to lift and step over that barrier. He told me he grabbed onto that grab bar every day because it made sense to hang onto something standing on a wet shower floor. And the last time we talked, he told me to make sure to tell others and have them see the value of having a home that supports one's independence. And with this blog post, I have done what he told me to do. Tell others.
Design For Aging In Place Is Not A Trend du Jour.. But A Fact Of Life for Baby Boomers
Never would I have thought in my career that I would get a call from a major publishing house like John Wiley whose interior design editor at the time John Czarnecki asked about whether there was any interest in writing a book about the upcoming trend of creating homes that support one's independence. It was surely a surprise and a welcome opportunity to work with a colleague of mind, Drue Lawlor, FASID to help communicate this important concept to interior designers, architects and home builders. But how do you write a book when you never have contemplated doing any thing of the like. John quickly replied that he and his editorial staff would guide Drue and myself thru the process from word creation to book cover. And so we did.
Since that time, Drue and I have been seeing the book pop up in many places including Amazon.com, Barnes + Noble and book sellers from Seattle to Miami, Chicago to Houston. And when we do see it,... we grin... Because we know the message is gaining ground that you can design homes with a certain level of accessibility AND make it look great.
And isn't that the best alternative when one considers that being in a home of ones choosing is the "ideal independence?" We think it is and we think that is how it should be no matter the age, no matter the ability. And with so many baby boomers reaching that time in their life where certain decisions are being made, they are discovering that aging in place is not a trend for the moment but a lifestyle that supports safety, security and independence.
In a recent post on a blog, the book received many nice compliments.
Check it out: CLICK HERE.
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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.