Apr 5, 2015

Remodel Right

 When you're planning a home remodel, regardless of your current age, there are some things you should consider for safety, design longevity, and to meet the needs of all who will live in your home.   As we enter a period where many people live in multi generational situations, it will benefit you in the long run.  These considerations will serve you as well when your family is young as well as when grandparents come to stay and as you age and change.  Even if you don't intend to live in your home long, building  codes will change over time, and you'll be ahead of the curve when you resell.  

When you're looking for hardware -whether it be for kitchen bath and laundry cabinet doors, indoor and exterior doors, even cooktops and your bathroom faucets - avoid rounded knobs that cannot be gipped easily. Children and older adults often have a hard time opening doors and drawers because their hands can't get a good grip on a door or cabinet knob. The combination of small hands or arthritic fingers make this a challenge. In the bath, the shape of the hardware used on your faucets and shower also is important. Rounded knobs make it difficult to  turn water on and on.  There are some beautiful modern shapes, but they too with their straight lines are a challenge to grip.   
Using a lever handle -which now comesin many styles gracefully curved or straight - it completely resolve the problem forever. They are multi generational and someone at any age and physical limitation and use them. In Kitchens and baths, cup pulls can be dynamic. They're easy to grip, the pool well, and in most cases it's just a matter of making sure your glides are in good shape.

For bathroom remodels, the older style toilets were only 12 inches off the ground. Today, the bulls are either rounded or elongated but the seat height are up at 18 to 22 inches. This is so much easier for adults especially to get up and down as they age. The same applies for chairs and sofas. Deep seeded sofas are challenged to rise from. I recently re-stuffed the cushions of my clients down sofa because her husband has back problems and although he is young, he cannot use sofa without pain and difficulty. Consider that now. The higher quality furniture you purchase the more likely you can adjust overtime.

Flooring is a big area of concern especially in baths and in entries. It is important not to have slippery tile especially when wet in the bath. I do not you shiny ceramic tile ever for that reason. Even my young clients have accidentally slipped on tile installed in tracked homes by builders. Non-skid flooring including rough stone, porcelain, and even linoleum -  there are fabulous new sustainable and textured products available – is a must.  That brings up area rather rugs. It's very challenging to have carpeting on carpeting since that races the Heights and makes it difficult to walk through a room if you're young or old because tripping is a hazard.   Area rugs on wood floors need an underline or to avoid slippage. In any case, it is simply better to use dense low pile carpet, single materials like wood or tile throughout a home. so there is improved footing and less trip hazard. There are some beautiful new porcelains that looked just like wood, that are super easy care, and you can transition from room to room easily.  

                    Slip resistant porcelain plank tile with texture on the main bath floor with
                                    1" x 1" stone tiles on the level entry shower floor

Its also important  to think about for the future of entry to your home. While most people don't have a great deal of property, there are creative ways to make landscape changes that are safer for everybody to enter and exit your home. TImagine having a broken leg, or an elderly relative come to stay who must use a walker or wheelchair, can they get into your home. This yard was created with a gentle slope to eliminate stairs.  It's possible to install ramps next to or instead of stairs and adding handrails is a good idea particularly you live in an area where there are frequently rainy and snowy exterior conditions.

Consider widening the doorways and hallways of every space before you do your remodel. Be sure that you can put your large piece of furniture through. Consider that it might be a good idea for a walker or a wheelchair the future to have door entries of minimum 36 inches and 4 feet wide hallways. It gives easier turning axis and maneuvering in passing is safer. If there will be decorative furnishings in the hallway, keep them narrow enough so there is still ample hallway width.

Let's talk counters. It is not uncommon for people at any age to have back problems.  Don't lower your vanities. 34 to 36 inches high is ideal in the bathroom today. If you have small children you can simply put a pullout step underneath so they can easily access the sink and counters. For older people or those with back problems, that extra height enables pain-free bending. Kitchens are the same. I like to vary the heights of counters for numerous reasons. For ease of use, I place work surface counters at 36 inches.  40 inches is ideal so you can pull up a stool or chair and still work on the surface. It also invites people to join you in food prep and clean up. Putting some kitchen counters at 28 inches - the height of a standard kitchen table - it makes it easier for children to assist and makes a great surface on which to knead dough and bake.  

Lighting is a key factor everywhere. With LED and compact fluorescent lighting, you can put multiple fixtures in multiple layers to light your with perfect task lighting - dimmable for ambience - and still have low energy consumption.  I install motion sensors in most spaces today. Vacancy sensors are fabulous for playrooms, bathrooms, closets, and laundry rooms. When a child leaves the room, when your spouse leaves the closet, they enable the light to turn off by itself in just a few minutes after the room is empty.  Many people parked in the garage. As you bring your groceries from your car to the garage into the kitchen, wouldn't it be great to have a occupancy sensor turn the lights on automatically especially if you're coming home in the evening with your arms full?  It also makes it easier for children and older adults not to have to reach for a switch.

Let's go back to the kitchen. Cabinet doors are lovely. But you literally have to reach all the way into the back of your base cabinetry at 24 inches to ask is what's in there. I prefer to install pullout drawers in every single cabinet.  It makes access to every single thing easy, and you can still have door and drawer combinations to create interest in your kitchen design.  The same holds true for using organizers. Sliding out bins for cleaning supplies under the sink, and recycling and trash bins is now easy to come by. In an era where we are beginning to collect compost you know municipalities, there needs to be away for you to simply put your cutting scraps into storage until they go out for recycling.

Other hardware needs include balance bars in showers, around vanities and toilets, in  long narrow hallways, up and down steps to access parts of your home – especially if they are on multiple levels - and today styles are beautiful, architectural, and add safety in such a simple way.

Whether you are an older adults with failing vision, or young child running actively, changing the texture and color at the junctions of different floor levels from room to room is important.  Change the color or texture of your carpet at the top and bottom of stairs.  Be sure your stair treads are not slippery, and even add decorative strips at the top and bottom steps to ensure that the first step is a safe one;   It makes it easy to identify where that step is instead of having an accidental trip.  And don't forget lighting. New in stair LED lighting is safe, easy to install, energy efficient, and helps with dark stairwells. They too can be put on automatic sensors or simply left on because the wattage is so low.