Kitchen & Bath Design News

JUN 2018

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being so expensive, it makes sense to prepare our homes for the unexpected rather than going back to retrofit later, which will be significantly more expensive." She encourages every client to go with a zero-threshold shower and to install grab bars – or at least block them out in the wall so it's a simple matter of drilling them in if needed – "because it just makes sense." And, along the same lines, she recommends smartly placed outlets in the bathroom – some- thing that came in handy in a recent job where the homeowner had trouble lifting himself on and off the toilet despite support bars. McCabe found a product called a Seat Lift, which raises the seat up at the push of a button – and because the outlet had already been included, there was minimal retrofitting involved. Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, CAPS, CAASH, CLIPP, president of the Brookfield, CT Mary Jo Peterson, Inc. agrees: "There should always be support in the bathroom because it's a wet area, and that's the room where most accidents happen. When possible, a no-threshold shower is a great choice; it's both beautiful and subtle, but also more supportive of any of us getting in and out without a problem." In the kitchen, she notes, "It's all about extreme conve- nience. To create accessible storage that comes to you…well, who wouldn't want that?" Patti Phipps, CLIPP of the Fort Lauderdale, FL Patricia Jean Designs believes the evolution of aging-in-place design has creat- ed style options that transcend "design for aging." As examples, she cites "hands-free faucets that are convenient for everyone," as well as "grab bars that are no longer grab bars, they're beau- tiful towel bars" and tiles where "each pattern comes in glossy, matte and rough finishes to provide a non-slip surface in needed areas, which adds safety without compromising aesthetics." HELPFUL FEATURES While the majority of universal design features work well for all users, designing for an aging clientele is as much about preventing problems as solving them. As Peterson sees it, "Done right, design for aging in place re- ally should be a proactive effort – not a solution to a problem, but a way to avoid problems by creating a supportive environment." To that end, she stresses the value of convenience features that provide flexibility as well as comfort. This might be as sim- ple as designing shower controls that can be accessed from out- side the shower, or a heated toilet seat or a washlet, which can be a wonderful luxury for now but might evolve into a necessity if a client develops health issues later in life. McCabe says, "I encourage every client to go with a ze- ro-threshold shower, regardless of age. To retrofit it later, you'd have to tear out the whole shower. And people really like the look." She also advocates for seats or benches in showers – some- thing she learned the hard way after tearing a ligament in her ankle. "I had a 32"x32" shower, and I literally could not shower," she recalls. "Now I say, 'make a seat so you can take a seat.'" Material choices matter, too, and McCabe explains, "Part of my job is guiding clients toward picking out materials that are going to b e good for them." Sometimes these can be comfort related. For instance, she recently discouraged an older client who wanted a glass countertop because of the higher noise quotient. Likewise, she steers older clients toward contrasting colors and textures on countertops and floors, explaining that "older eyes can suffer from macular degeneration or issues with depth perception. A dichotomy between countertop and floor in color and texture helps prevent them from putting a water glass on the edge of the counter and missing it, or not being able to bend over and see well enough to clean up the broken glass. If they have stairs, the same concept applies: You want to make treads and steps different colors." Good lighting can make all the difference, and McCabe notes the importance of adjusting lighting for older clients to help compensate for changes in how they see color. "One of the reasons they use fluorescent lighting in assisted care facili- ties is because our color perception is more yellowed with age, and the fluorescent is natural blue so it makes the light look whiter and more true to color for aging eyes." Additionally, she points out, "For people who may have dementia, shadows can be frightening. It's important to have broad light coverage so there are no shadows, or minimal shadows." Nor should this just be a consideration for clients suffering from cognitive issues. "Designing in this type of lighting early on can make life easier if problems develop later in a client's life," she maintains. While she is generally gentle in her suggestions and doesn't believe in "scare tactics," McCabe does feel strongly that heated floors are a must for older homeowners. She explains, "The bathroom is the primary place where accidents happen. And, if you fall and can't get up and are there for a while before anyone Without altering the original footprint of the space, this bath, designed by A Kitchen That Works LLC, was reconfigured to feature a zero-threshold steam shower with fold-down seat, hand-held showerhead, grab bars, heated towel warmer and built-in seating under the window. This master bath designed by A Kitchen That Works LLC features a zero-threshold shower with built-in bench and hand-held shower- head, as well as a seating area for putting on makeup. Photo: A Kitchen That Works LLC June 2018 • KitchenBathDesign.com 53 AGING IN PLACE

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