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Archive for the ‘Bathrooms’ Category

Do you need modifications to your home because of injury, illness, or just plain aging and a desire to stay in your home, eliminating obstacles that may exist to doing so, but don’t think you can afford them?

First of all, many modifications may cost far less than you might expect, because they often don’t need to be as extensive or labor-intensive as you might imagine, and can actually be quite simple.

For example, sometimes all that is needed to ensure wheelchair accessibility may be to remove the moldings from around your doors and finish off the opening without them, and maybe either add new doors that fit the enlarged opening better, or in some cases, dispense with them altogether.  This alone can add a couple of inches of width to the doorway that can make all the difference, without getting into major remodeling.

And in places like the bathroom, as long as you can get the chair in there (which the door width may be the only obstacle to), depending on your particular situation, all you might need to be able to shower or bathe on your own might be a transfer bench and grab bars – although of course, you could certainly also opt do a full remodel with a wheel-in shower, step-in tub, and many other helpful aids that can be created in a way that no one else needs to know their purpose if you prefer.

Your best bet to determine what will serve your needs the best in a way that will fit your budget will be to consult a professional with the CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) designation to find out what’s necessary and possible, and to get a realistic idea of what it will cost.  You can search for an appropriate professional in your area via the National Association of Home Builders CAPS Directory.  CAPS specialists are specifically trained to manage the changes needed in the residential built environment in order for people to age comfortably and safely in their own homes – and that same training applies to both accessible and universal design as well.

If you have an occupational or physical therapist, you might want to involve them in the process as well, even if they have not already done a home visit, so that your needs and the specific obstacles in your home are most appropriately identified from a medical/functional perspective, leaving the design professionals to create a solution that best implements those requirements in the most aesthetically-pleasing way possible within your budget constraints.

Accessible design is created for people with specific, known needs, and universal design is a more general concept that allows people of a range of ages and abilities to function well together in the same space, anticipating potential needs along with addressing actual existing ones.   They overlap with each other, and both overlap with aging-in-place.

If aesthetics is important to you (and it should be, because that greatly impacts your enjoyment of your home), start with an interior designer or architect who is CAPS-certified, and hire a contractor who also holds the designation for the optimal combination of design and construction knowledge.  No one wants to – or needs to – live in a home that looks institutional in order for it to function well for physical needs.

Some contractors, although far from all, may have some training in interior and/or architectural design, so unless you know you only need or want the most basic of changes like functional grab bars and/or stair glides, the best outcomes in any renovation or new construction project will usually come from hiring a team that works together to address not just the technical issues but also the aesthetic ones, and not just the physical house issues, but also furnishings, color, lighting, etc., all of which can also be modified as necessary to address various types of disabilities, including normal age-related vision loss.

Most designers and architects will meet with you initially at no charge to explain their services, find out generally what your needs, budget, and preferences are, and to make a proposal, so don’t be afraid to call one even if you think you can’t afford our services.  If it does turn out to be more than you want to spend to hire one to do the whole project, many, myself included, will also work on an hourly consultation basis to give you advice, review contractors’ plans before the proposed modifications are built, etc.

Finally, when it does come time to do whatever work needs to be done, if you find that you really can’t afford them on your own, you may be able to locate some surprising sources of help in funding the modifications.

While it is beyond the scope of this blog – and indeed the scope of any design or construction trade professional – to offer specific advice about financial assistance, or its appropriateness for any specific situation or type of situation, I would like to share some resources that you can investigate on your own.  Please do consult with your own financial, tax, and legal advisors to determine the impacts and pros and cons of any financial options you may be considering.  In some situations, there might even be tax breaks associated with such modifications that might increase their affordability, but again, please do consult your own advisors for details.

One place to start, certainly, is asking your bank about a loan, and another is to ask your accountant and/or attorney about any sources they may know of.  Likewise, your church, synagogue, or other house of worship might be able to suggest or offer assistance through either that particular facility or through the religion’s local or national agencies and charities.  Fraternal organizations might have options as well, if you belong to one.

The Our Parents blog (which is a wonderful general resource for information about aging in general, and caring for older adults) also has a nice article on where to turn to seek financial aid with an assortment of links that will help you research options in your area, or that apply to your particular circumstances.

Don’t be put off by the name of the blog or references to aging and seniors if you are not of that “certain age”, as many of these agencies might also have programs that could benefit younger people as well if they have significant disabilities, and the blog certainly has information that would be beneficial to people with other disabling conditions.  They also have a nice article with other links about the possible pitfalls of reverse mortgages, which many people think of, and which may or may not be appropriate for a given situation.

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11 kitchen and bath design trends for 2011

 

Dark natural finishes, induction cooktops, satin nickel faucets, and LED lighting are among the top design trends for kitchens and bathrooms for 2011.

By NKBA Staff
February 13, 2011

More than 100 designers who are members of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), and have designed kitchens or bathrooms during the last three months of 2010, participated in an NKBA survey to reveal design trends in the marketplace for 2011. The results of this survey suggest there will be some changes in the direction that kitchen and bath styles will take this year. Below are 7 kitchen trends and 4 bathroom trends that are poised to take hold in 2011. These are overall trends across the United States and Canada; they won’t necessarily appear in all geographic areas.

Kitchens

1) Shake It Up

The Shaker style began a rise in popularity in 2009 and gained momentum in 2010. By the end of the year, Shaker has supplanted Contemporary as the second most popular style used by NKBA member designers. While Traditional remains the most popular style, having been used by 76% of designers surveyed over that last three months of 2010, that’s a slight drop from the previous year. Meanwhile, the percent of respondents who designed contemporary kitchens fell to 48%, while Shaker rose to 55%. Cottage was the only other style to garner at least 20% of the market, as it registered at 21%.

2) Dark Finishes

Dark natural finishes overtook medium natural, glazed, and white painted finishes to become the most specified type of finish toward the end of 2010. While medium natural fell from being used by 53% to 48% of designers, glazed from 53% to 42%, and white painted from 49% to 47%, dark natural finishes rose from 42 to 51%. Light natural and colored painted finishes remained fairly common, as each rose slightly from the previous year: 24% to 25% for light natural and 24% to 29% for colored paints. Distressed finishes dropped significantly from a year ago, when they were used by 16% of designers, to just 5%.

3) A Place for Wine

While the incorporation of wine refrigerators seems to be on the decline (see Bonjour Réfrigérateur below), unchilled wine storage is growing in popularity. While only 39% of surveyed designers incorporated wine storage areas into their kitchens at the end of 2009, just over half—51%—did so as 2010 came to a close. While other types of cabinetry options remain more common, most are on the decline, including tall pantries (89% to 84%), lazy Susans (90% to 78%), and pull-out racks (81% to 71%). Appliance garages also seem to be falling out of favor, as their use declined from 36% at the end of 2009 to 29% a year later.

4) Bonjour Réfrigérateur

The French door refrigerator has strengthened its position as the type specified most often by NKBA member designers. While freezer-top refrigerators were only specified by 8% of designers as 2010 drew to a close—down from 10% a year earlier, freezer-bottom models fell very slightly from 60% to 59% and side-by-side units actually rose slightly from 46% to 49%. Meanwhile, French door refrigerators jumped from 67% to 78%. Among smaller units, refrigerator or freezer drawers remained flat at 31%, while undercounter wine refrigerators fell sharply from 50% to 36%, an interesting change given the increasing use of unchilled wine storage.

5) Inducting a New Cooktop

Induction cooktops haven’t overtaken gas and electric models, but they’re closing the gap. As we entered 2010, gas cooktops had been recently specified by 76% of NKBA designers, compared to 38% for electric and 26% for induction. However, while the incorporation of gas cooktops has fallen to 70%, electric cooktops has risen slightly to 41%, while induction cooktops are up to 34%. Meanwhile, single wall ovens are down from 46% to 42%, although double wall ovens are up from 68% to 74%. In addition, warming drawers are down from 49% to 42%, and ranges are down sharply from 81% to 68%.

6) LED Lighting

Incandescent lighting continues its journey to obsolescence. While 50% of NKBA member designers incorporated incandescent bulbs into their designs at the end of 2009, only 35% have done so a year later. Instead, designers are clearly opting for more energy-efficient lighting options. While the use of halogen lighting is down from 46% to 40% over the past year, LED (light-emitting diode) lighting has increased from 47% to 54%. Designers aren’t turning to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) as a solution, though, most likely due to the poor quality of light they produce; their use by designers remained flat at 35%.

7) Trashy Designs

A greater emphasis is being made to address trash considerations in the kitchen. Some 89% of kitchens designed by NKBA members in the final quarter of 2010 include a trash or recycling pull-outs. In addition, garbage disposals were incorporated by 86% of designers, up from 75% the previous year. Trash compactors have also become more common. Entering 2010, they were recently used in designs by 11% of designers, but a year later, that figure had climbed to 18%. These changes may be due to an increase in sustainability awareness, but they certainly indicate an increase in concern toward trash generated in the kitchen.

Bathrooms

1) Quartz Countertops

Quartz continues to take away market share from granite in the market for bathroom vanity tops. A year ago, 85% of NKBA bathroom designers incorporated granite into a recent design, compared to just 48% for quartz, but now, that gap has narrowed to 83% for granite and 54% for quartz. Unlike in the kitchen, solid surfaces haven’t gained much popularity in the bathroom, increasing only from 23% to 25% over the past year. Meanwhile, solid marble has declined from 46% to 37%, while cultured marble and onyx have increased from 12% to 19%. No other material has even 10% of the market.

2) Green Bathrooms

No, we’re not referring to eco-friendly spaces—we literally mean green bathrooms. A year ago, green color palettes were used by only 14% of NKBA designers, but at the end of 2010, that figure had risen to 24%. Still, whites and off-whites, beiges, and browns are the three most commonly used color tones in bathrooms. However, while white and off-white palettes are up slightly from 57% to 60%, beiges are down sharply from 66% to 57%, while browns have dropped from 48% to 38%. Other common color tones include blues at 22%, grays at 21%, and bronzes and terracottas at 17%.

3) A Worthy Vessel

Under-mount sinks continue to dominate newly remodeled bathrooms, with 97% of NKBA bathroom designers having specified them over the last three months of 2010, up from 95% a year earlier. However, vessel sinks have become the clear second choice among designers, as 51% of NKBA member designers have specified them in the final quarter of 2010, up from 39% a year ago. Integrated sink tops were also up from 34% to 38%, pedestal sinks were up from 21% to 29%, and drop-in sinks were up from 23% to 27%. This shows that bathroom designers have been specifying more lavoratory sinks across the board.

4) Satin Nickel Faucets

This trend relates to both bathrooms and kitchens. From the end of 2009 to the end of 2010, the percent of NKBA designers who specified a satin nickel faucet rose from 41% to 63% in the kitchen and from 45% to 57% in the bathroom, while the percent who specified a brushed nickel faucet fell from 61% to 48% in the kitchen and from 66% to 38% in the bathroom. Other popular faucet finishes in both the kitchen and bathroom are bronze and oil-rubbed bronze, polished chrome, and polished nickel. However, while stainless steel is popular in the kitchen, specified recently by 44% of designers, that figure drops to just 16% in the bathroom.

ABOUT NKBA

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) is a non-profit trade association that has educated and led the kitchen and bath industry for more than 45 years. NKBA.org provides consumers with an inspiration gallery of award-winning kitchen and bath designs, as well as articles, tips, and an extensive glossary of remodeling terms. At NKBA.org, consumers can also find certified kitchen and bath professionals in their areas, submit questions to NKBA experts, and order the free NKBA Kitchen Planner and NKBA Bath Planner.

via Custom Builder

For beautiful kitchens, baths and entire homes that you will delight in and which will support and enhance your lifestyle regardless of your age or ability level, please contact Wendy at Hoechstetter Interiors for an evaluation of your present home or new construction project, and for assistance in creating the forever home of your dreams, no matter what your color, style, or materials preferences.

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A beautiful example of a stylish and fully accessible bathroom, complete with curbless shower/wet room, handheld showerhead, accessible sink, and well-placed grab bars. Notice how spacious this room feels without the tub or traditional shower one would normally have expected to find here, with the flooring continuous right into the shower. I'm pretty sure there's a seat just out of sight. This was designed by a professional who really fully understands accessible bathroom design.

“Despite the effect on resale value, replacing a tub with a shower is increasingly popular as aging-in-place remodeling gains interest. According to a National Association of Home Builders Remodelers survey, 70% of remodelers now report making universal-design home modifications, compared with 60% in 2006. Additionally, 60% of remodelers say these projects include adding a curbless shower, as well as grab bars, higher toilets, and wider doorways. Though most requests come from clients over age 55, more consumers are making the requests on behalf of aging or disabled family members.”

— Lauren Hunter, associate editor, REMODELING

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This makes all the sense in the world for me, on several levels.

For starters, it reflects a greater focus on creating a home that is what people want for themselves, not viewing the place as an investment they are just parking in. Yes, it’s wonderful when you sell to make money, and to get the price you are hoping for or more, but what good is it, really, if you aren’t comfortable and don’t enjoy living in it yourself? Value is not necessarily measured in dollars, but in getting the biggest bang for your buck – and making sure you get what you need to support your own health and lifestyle before you try to worry about some hypothetical later buyer. Surround yourself with beautiful things and colors that you love, and the greatest (and longest lasting) reward you will reap will be your own delight and joy while you yourself live there.

Second, the reality is that our population is aging, and a far higher percentage of us are going to have to age in place whether we want to or not, just because the Baby Boomer generation is going to overwhelm our existing elder care options. Nobody really wants to leave the home that they love, but more savvy people are realizing that it makes sense to plan ahead for as many potential change scenarios as they can, while they are still able-bodied enough to do so, taking the time to do it right.

By middle age, too, the body starts breaking down, of course, and none of us can do all of what we could do when we were younger, or at least very few, and this process just accelerates as we get older. People are starting to face these realities, particularly as they see their parents and friends running into problems staying in their homes because of design that interferes with being able to do so safely and easily.  Particularly if people still love their homes and neighborhoods, remodeling to ease the transitions of getting older makes a lot of sense – and planning for it in advance of actually needing the modifications makes even more sense.

Curbless showers are particularly nice, because people in wheelchairs can just roll right in with no obstacles to overcome, there’s nothing for anyone else to trip over, either, and they make cleaning the floor a breeze, because there are fewer nooks and crannies for dirt to hide in, as with a traditional shower, and the entire floor has a tiny, imperceptible slope that prevents water from pooling anywhere.  They also make a smaller bathroom look a lot bigger because the continuous floor visually expands space, while anything that interrupts that span, like a shower curb, makes it look smaller.  It’s easier to get both kids and dogs in than to try to get them into a tub and keep them there, and controls placed low enough to be reachable by a seated user are also easier for children to reach.  The advantages go on and on.  And with today’s vast range of materials and finishes, your bathroom can still look every bit as stunning when accessible to everyone, regardless of whether you prefer a contemporary or a traditional look.

If you’ve got enough space for both a tub and a freestanding shower, you’ve got many more options, but if you can only fit one in, the shower offers more option for ease of use combined with beautiful aesthetics.

Many times these modifications are surprisingly easy and economical to do, especially if you are planning ahead and not under the gun of dealing with an emergency situation.  If you are already planning a remodel, make sure you include as many accessibility features as possible, particularly if you already have a medical condition that you know will eventually cause you to need to make changes to the house.  An interior designer who is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist to help you get the most bang for your buck (and time invested) in terms of both function and aesthetics, and integration with the rest of your home.

If you want to be sure you can stay in your home as you age, or as you move in elderly parents, or to enable disabled friends or other relatives to visit, contact Hoechstetter Interiors for anything from an evaluation of your current situation and recommendations to complete remodeling or new construction assistance to ensure accessibility, ease of use, and beauty for YOUR lifestyle.

Following are a few other images of beautiful bathrooms with roll-in (or near roll-in) showers and other accessibility features.  Future posts will look at accessibility issues and features in other rooms of the house.

This is a very tiny and narrow bathroom, but look how big it looks because of the open shower, continuous flooring, suspended vanity, and that marvelous huge mirror.  This stunning shower might be a little difficult for a wheelchair user to use in its present form because there’s no room to turn around, and hard to get assistance in if needed, but either a roll-in shower chair or the addition of a pull-down bench would allow for comfortable seating and easy transfer to the bench.  If this is all the space you’ve got, though, it’s definitely still workable even if a bit cramped – and without architectural changes.  Of course, grab bars would need to be added as well.  However, the handheld shower and controls are at a good height for a seated user (or children!), and you can see how well the shower integrates into the room without curbs, and how it visually expands the limited space.  The sink and vanity are already fully accessible because of the open space underneath, and placement at a height and with a depth that everyone in the family can use easily.

 

Even grab bars don’t have to be dull and institutional-looking.  Here is only one example of a growing number of beautifully designed styles of bathroom hardware that are designed to integrate beautifully with – or completely match – the rest of your fixtures and fittings, even in a more traditionally designed bathroom like this one.  The translucent fold-down shower seat nearly disappears visually.  I can’t tell if this is actually a roll-in shower or not, but it certainly could be.  The only thing noticeably missing here is a handheld showerhead and shower controls reachable from the seat.  It’s really a shame when a room is this attractively designed with such obvious intent to make it accessible, and such major elements are left out.  It’s on the right track, though, and shows how style and beauty simply need not be sacrificed even in a more traditional design.  If the necessary plumbing changes simply aren’t in the budget, there are add-on handheld showers that can be purchased separately and attached to the main showerhead that can bring additional functionality to a situation like this if need be.

 

This lovely “room within a room” shower still has a curb, but it’s low enough that most people would be able to navigate it with much less difficulty than with a standard curb (or tub edge!), and with help, a wheelchair could be gotten over it if necessary.  If designing this room from scratch, though, or remodeling it, it would be easy to eliminate it altogether with a little more attention paid to the way the floor slopes to the drain, with or without the contrasting flooring inside the shower and out.  The window ledge doubles as a seat (although perhaps a little low here) – totally functional, and totally unobtrusive as to purpose.  Add grab bars and a handheld showerhead, and this is another stunning example of how a shower can be accessible to all without sacrificing one iota of style.

 

This prefabricated showerpan is a lower cost way to achieve full accessibility in the shower.  That lip holds the water in, but is compressible, so that a wheelchair will just roll right over it, or you can step right on it if you can’t pick up your feet very far.  Add a drop down bench, and be sure there’s a handheld showerhead, and this is yet another well-designed accessible shower that integrates well into an attractive bathroom.  Horizontal grab bars are generally more useful and safer than slanted ones, but every little bit helps.  The sink, however, is not accessible as is, but could easily be made so by replacing the cabinet base with something that allows seated access as in some of the other images shown here, or by installing a cabinet base that can have doors while people are still all mobile, but which are designed to be easily removable later if wheelchair accessibility becomes necessary.

Many times, aging-in-place design allows for changes like this with flexible base cabinets when they become necessary, while retaining more “traditional” features until such time as they are needed.

Other options are installing backing in the shower in anticipation of adding grab bars later.  I’ve learned from hard personal experience, though, that you should buy the grab bars when you buy the rest of your fittings, and just store them away if you don’t want to install them right away.  It can take weeks or months to order something you’d really like to live with, and if you are injured (as I was last year, with a broken foot), even if you’ve already got the backing in place and every other accessibility feature set to go, you’ll get stuck with ugly hardware store special grab bars if you need them suddenly, or with finding a way to do without, which defeats the whole point.

(If anyone knows the photo credits for these images, please let me know and I will be happy to add the attributions.  My new software on my new Mac has eaten all the credits I had stored in the prior version on my PC <sigh>.)

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