Design — 21 November 2014
Creating stylish design at home, for all ages

From PRIME, a special issue of City & Shore Magazine

By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub

None of us wants to be reminded that we are getting older. Baby Boomers, now in their 50s and 60s, once declared they didn’t trust anyone over 30. Aging was something that happened to other people.

It’s no wonder that as little as five years ago older adults rejected remodeling their homes for the future. Since then, what makes Aging in Place more desirable are the new products that look chic and upscale rather than institutional and depressing.

“If anything it’s an easy sell these days,” says Bill Feinberg, president of Allied Kitchen & Bath in Fort Lauderdale.

Statistics back up his claim. More than 70 percent of those doing a remodeling project are planning for future needs for themselves or their parents, according to the National Association of Homebuilders. To meet this need, the NAHB developed its Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) program to train designers how to make a home more livable for all ages and stages of life.

Michael Kornowa, MTI Bath’s director of marketing, says Aging in Place continues to be a strong trend and his company expects it to get even stronger. MTI offers a range of products from a no-threshold shower with teak seat to a tub with an 11-inch front deck to allow easier entry.

“Empty nesters are leaving their McMansions and moving into smaller places,” Kornowa says. “They are designing with Aging in Place in mind. They want to be prepared and want to spend the rest of their lives in their home.”

 

Safer Bathrooms

A good example of how a safe bathroom can look upscale is the master bathroom remodel at Heron Bay in Parkland that Feinberg and his brother Joe, a CAPS specialist, created for a couple with a wheelchair-bound son. They eliminated the tub and designed a walk-in shower with two independent water systems – one for the son and one with more elaborate body sprays for the adults. The shower has no door so the floor is pitched down slightly toward the drain, which is against the wall. The tile looks like marble but is non-slip porcelain. It looks upscale, so resale of the home won’t be a problem.

Walk-in tubs are advertised everywhere from TV to magazines, but Bill Feinberg doesn’t recommend them and recently talked a client out of buying one. They cost from $6,000 to $12,000 depending on the brand.

“They have a lot of drawbacks,” he says. “You have to sit in the tub naked and wait for it to fill up, and you have to sit and wait while the water drains because you can’t open the door. Those with a whirlpool and heater take a lot of power, so many have to upgrade the electrical system. You also need a big water heater because it takes 50 to 60 gallons to fill the tub. You can’t get the tub through the standard bathroom door so the doorways have to be made wider.”

Not everyone waits until a family member is in a wheelchair to make the bathroom comply with these Universal Design principles that address the needs and abilities of all ages. Designers say their clients are asking for wider doorways, safer access to showers, shower seats, chair-height toilets, slip resistant tile and grab bars or backer boards behind tile for later installation of grab bars.

“They may not have to sit down in a shower today, but later they may get injured in an accident,” says Rob Feinberg, another CAPS specialist from Allied Kitchen & Bath. “We say this can happen to anyone.”

 

Stylish Kitchens

Fort Lauderdale designer Joyce Shore has been a CAPS specialist for five years. She got the extra training because aging Baby Boomers were becoming a larger market.

One of her most appealing kitchen designs was for a Fort Lauderdale client in a wheelchair. Shore opened up the floor plan so that the living room, kitchen and dining room became one open space. She created two wider-than-normal peninsulas so the client can use them from both sides. The microwave was placed under the counter so she could heat the meals at night that her aide prepared earlier. Much of the storage is full extension drawers with handles rather than knobs, which are hard to grasp for those with arthritis.

 

Attractive Products

Kohler, a manufacturer of kitchen and bath products, is doing its part to encourage Aging in Place, also known as Universal Design, with its Kohler Design Center at corporate headquarters in Kohler, Wis. The center attracts 175,000 visitors per year.

Diana Schrage, senior staff interior designer for Kohler, says she has seen attitudes of consumers change toward the higher toilets that Kohler calls Comfort Height.

“I have been here almost 20 years and can still remember clients in the ’90s saying they didn’t want one of those handicapped toilets,” she says.

The Comfort Height toilets, which have become popular, are 17 inches high compared to 14-inch standard toilets. Schrage says the size difference was an obstacle for those who also wanted a bidet. The solution was creating a bidet seat that fits on most elongated toilets.

Another innovation is the Sensate Touchless Faucet for the kitchen, which has struck a chord with consumers.

“You literally are breaking the beam with the movement of a hand or arm to activate or deactivate,” she says.

The challenge is to make the design as appealing as possible.

“People are recognizing they are getting older and want to be prepared,” says MTI’s Michael Kornowa. “They are of the mindset that they are in this house and are not going anywhere. They want to change things so they are comfortable and supportable when they do get older.”

 

 

 


 

Attractive Products

Kohler, a manufacturer of kitchen and bath products, is doing its part to encourage Aging in Place, also known as Universal Design, with its Kohler Design Center at corporate headquarters in Kohler, Wis. The center attracts 175,000 visitors per year.

Diana Schrage, senior staff interior designer for Kohler, says she has seen attitudes of consumers change toward the higher toilets that Kohler calls Comfort Height.

“I have been here almost 20 years and can still remember clients in the ’90s saying they didn’t want one of those handicapped toilets,” she says.

The Comfort Height toilets, which have become popular, are 17 inches high compared to 14-inch standard toilets. Schrage says the size difference was an obstacle for those who also wanted a bidet. The solution was creating a bidet seat that fits on most elongated toilets.

Another innovation is the Sensate Touchless Faucet for the kitchen, which has struck a chord with consumers.

“You literally are breaking the beam with the movement of a hand or arm to activate or deactivate,” she says.

The challenge is to make the design as appealing as possible.

“People are recognizing they are getting older and want to be prepared,” says MTI’s Michael Kornowa. “They are of the mindset that they are in this house and are not going anywhere. They want to change things so they are comfortable and supportable when they do get older.”

– Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub

 

TIPS FOR  AGING IN PLACE

Dale Miller, owner of Daring by Design in Boca Raton, started specializing in senior living in 1997. Since then, she has designed several life-care communities and residences. Here are her suggestions for making your home comfortable and safer as you age.

Bathroom

Faucets are like jewelry for the home. Those with levers are easier for arthritic hands than knobs.

Grab bars, which now come in attractive styles, are essential for safety in a shower or tub because this is where all ages can slip and fall. When remodeling, be sure to install a backer board for support even if you don’t plan to install a grab bar right away.

Chair-height toilets are available in attractive styles. Kohler offers a toilet seat with a light in the lid for nighttime trips to the bathroom. Add Kohler’s bidet seat or the Washlet toilet seat from Toto to ease your cleansing.

Flooring and lighting

Select tile or stone with a honed surface that is slip resistant. Ask for a static coefficient rating of 0.6.

Carpet or area rugs are preferred for bedrooms because they are most comfortable when getting out of bed. Avoid a thick plush pad, particularly in combination with long carpet pile, in heavily trafficked areas, otherwise those in wheelchairs or with ambulatory problems will have difficulty getting around.

Lighting is important for aging eyes. A bedside lamp should be 29 to 30 inches off the table. A chandelier should be 30 to 36 inches from the tabletop.

 

Kitchen

There is no law that says your dishwasher must be only a few inches off the ground. Install it higher (18 to 24 inches off the floor) so you don’t have to bend or install dishwasher drawers right under the counter.

Select cabinetry with drawers or roll-out shelves so you don’t have to bend and reach into the back of a cabinet.

Check out faucet technology. Delta’s Touch 20 faucet only needs a tap to turn on and off. Kohler has a Sensate Touchless faucet that turns on and off with the wave of a hand.

Glass cook tops are easier to clean. Buy one with a locking button on the front for safety.

 

Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub

 

SOURCES

Allied Kitchen & Bath
616 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort
Lauderdale,
954-564-1611,
alliedkitchenandbath.com.
Daring by Design
2799 NW Boca Raton Blvd.,
Boca Raton, 561-391-3322,
daringbydesign.net.
Joyce Shore
Interior Design
2737 NE 35th Court, Fort
Lauderdale, 954-564-0630,
joyceshore.com.
Kohler
See us.kohler.com
for retailers.
MTI
See MTI baths.com
for retailers

 

 

 

 

 

Related Articles

Share

About Author

CityandShore

(0) Readers Comments

Comments are closed.