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Authors for Grenfell Tower: An Online Auction Raising money for the British Red Cross to go to residents affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

June 24, 2017
POSTCARD FROM THE PAST, PASTPOSTCARD, PAST POSTCARD, BUILDMUMAHOUSE, AUCTION GRENFELL TOWER, AUTHORS FOR GRENFELL TOWER

I want to tell you about this online auction raising money for the British Red Cross London Fire Relief Fund, for residents affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

AUTHORS FOR GRENFELL TOWER, PASTPOSTCARD, PAST POSTCARD, BUILDMUMAHOUSE, POSTCARD FROM THE PAST,

Around 1:00 a.m. on 14 June 2017, a fire in this residential tower block in west London spread to engulf the entire building. Despite the heroic efforts of the fire service, all 120 flats in the building have been destroyed. The death toll stands at 58 and is expected to rise. Survivors have lost their homes, lost everything, and gone through unimaginable trauma.

Winning auction bids will be paid directly to the British Red Cross’s relief fund for Grenfell Tower residents and neighbours:

“The charity has been asked by Kensington and Chelsea council to help co-ordinate fundraising in an appeal to support the residents and neighbours of the Grenfell Tower.

Money will be given to people affected by the fire, including those who have lost everything, to buy the things they need to give themselves and their families as much normality as they can get at this extraordinarily difficult time. 

By donating to the London Fire Relief Fund people will be able to help those who have been injured, bereaved, left destitute or traumatised by this tragedy.”

There are many brilliant lots that have donated by authors for this auction, some of them from world famous authors or photographers such as Rankin, others such as the Twitter famous first time author Tom Jackson whose Twitter account @PastPostcard is my favourite account and whose first book was issued just a few weeks ago. Everyone who has donated wants to help and I want to help raise the profile of the auction, so I thought this was a good place to start:

ITEM: Signed copy of Postcard From The Past by Tom Jackson, plus 5 random blank vintage postcards

DETAILS: The winner will receive a copy of the recently-published Postcard From The Past book, personally signed and dedicated by Tom Jackson. Also included in the package will be 5 blank randomly chosen vintage postcards from Tom’s collection. 

BIO: Tom Jackson started posting old postcards on Twitter as Postcard From The Past in 2016. The book, which gathers the best of those cards and messages plus many never seen on Twitter, was described by Joanna Cannon as “A beautiful collection of tiny windows into the story of other people’s lives.” and by Danny Wallace as “Hilarious, haunting, silly, poetic and profound.”. Twitter: @pastpostcard

WHO CAN BID: Worldwide.

This book is only one of many lots, please go have a look at the auction site and support by bidding or by spreading the word.

Read more: Grenfell Tower Fire – how you can help

If you need help after the Grenfell Tower fire or are concerned about a loved one, please call the casualty bureau on 0800 0961 233 or 0207 158 0197.

If you are a resident displaced by the fire, call 020 7361 3008.

If you are distressed by the situation and need someone to talk to, call the Red Cross support line to talk to a trained volunteer on 0800 458 9472.

Read more: Grenfell Tower Fire – how you can help

My review of Vivienne Talsmat’s Rejuva Bar: The Snack Bar that’s raising the bar on nutrition

October 26, 2016
Rejuva burn Rejuva bars Vivienne Talsmat Rejuva Detox Rejuva WArrior

Have you actually read what’s in a ‘healthy’ snack bar? I have recently become a label reader and I’m flabbergasted when I read the small print of some of them. I’m looking for a vegan, no sugar, gluten free, Craving Blasting Bar to fill the snack gap and I don’t want to spoil all of the progress that I have recently made to getting my health and energy levels back.

rejuva-bar-rejuva-burn-at-work-vivienne-talsmat-jola-piesakowska-at-work slimming diet lose weight smoothie bar complate meal replacement

No panic! I’ve started keeping Rejuva Burn smoothie bars in my handbag Rejuva Smoothie on the go.

For the past two months I’ve been detoxing and fat burning with the help of Vivienne Talsmat and I’ve been using her Rejuva smoothies along with her eating plan. I’ve lost over 2 stone and loads of inches. I’m rejuvenated: hot flushes have calmed right down, my jangly nerves have subsided, my energy levels are up, I’ve got loads more vim and vigour. I feel at least ten years younger. I’m not just coping I’m thriving.

I don’t want to lose this feeling so I’ve become super diligent about eating the right thing at the right time of day….but sometimes I can’t fit a healthy meal in my day and I just need to unwrap a snack bar. If I don’t have a healthy snack that satisfies I’ll only get super hungry and eat a whole load of nonsense.

Before I tried Rejuva Bars, I used to rummage around supermarkets and health food shops to find a snack bar that tasted good and ticks all the boxes that suit my new healthy food regime. My plan is to have a snack bar in my handbag or in my car glove compartment on stand by for when I’m taking my mum out to the shops on a Saturday, out and about or when I’m working and can’t get away from my desk …or that petrol station kiosk moment.

I was over the moon when Vivienne Talsmat asked me to try her new Rejuva Bars. Knowing that Vivienne is a complete nutrition expert, is passionate about sourcing quality organic ingredients and cares about the taste factor in her smoothies range, I was keen to get my teeth into these bars.

Rejuva Bars Range

Rejuva Burn Bars

On the road test I focused on the Rejuva Burn bars. I’ve been using the Rejuva Burn smoothies for a couple of weeks with great fat burning  results.

At first look, love the packaging, clean and bright and simple. However, when I read the label – bit confusing… there doesn’t seem to be anything in it – just a load of fruit and Rejuva smoothie powder. Exactly…that’s the difference – Rejuva Bars are a new concept in healthy food as you go, Vivienne Talsmat has designed and formulated these to be as filling and as nutritious as her Rejuva Burn smoothies.

Same size as a snack bar but the Rejuva bar feels nice and heavy and when you take your first bite it’s a lot denser and creamier than a snack bar or the usual nutrition bar. These bars are delicious, not too sweet and a good mix of interesting flavours and textures in each bite. The Rejuva detox adds to the mix of textures so that I found myself spending time enjoying each mouthful, eating slowly and surprising myself that I didn’t just wolf it down. Vivienne explains the flavour combinations are more than just based on taste:

Apricot is low on calories and high on fiber content which improves your metabolic rate … it also maintains optimum fluid balance keeping you hydrated. This high soluble fibre content also stimulates gastric juices to break down fatty acids in food and makes the absorption of nutrients.

Reservatrol in mulberries is a naturally occurring antioxidant that has been shown to have anti-ageing properties as well as weight loss effects through its ability to improve physical endurance and provide increased energy levels.

and the benefit of adding her Rejuva Burn smoothie mix:

The inclusion of the Rejuva Burn powder provides the bars with a unique combination of green tea, baobab, Maca and alpha-lipoic acid which together have a powerful fat burning advantage. This is reinforced by the inclusion of bio-assimilable proteins that are scientifically proven to have fat-burning outcomes. A mix of proteins – brown rice, split pea, barley grass and hemp – also provide a complete amino acid profile.

My Verdict on Rejuva Burn Bars:

One bar does make me feel full, satisfied and with a feeling that I just ate something as clean and nutritious and as tasty as one of Vivienne’s smoothies! (I have heard that some people can’t manage a whole bar, not sure what that says about me…)

My favourite flavour? It’s got to be apricot… but I love apricots and I was delighted to find has got a good mix with the other fruits and tastes right. Yum.

I wasn’t sure about mulberries at first glance, more from ignorance really. However, Vivienne’s knack for interesting flavour combinations has made me a convert. Yes I love that one too.

Rejuva Sport Bars

rejuva-sport-warrior-vivienne-talsmat-buildmumahouse

Since I started on Vivienne Talsmat’s detox and fat burn regime I have so much more energy, combined with the novelty of my ‘activity tracker device’ I’m happily hitting my walking targets every day. Next week, I’m ready to start running for the first time, ever, and I plan to start exercising regularly again. I’ve been to the shops and bought some fancy patterned running pants, I have had a sneak taste of the cherry and vanilla Rejuva Sport bar, and it’s delicious. I’m all set to go!

If you would like to read more about the Rejuva System, click here.

In a couple of weeks I will report back on how I get on with running and fitting it into my life, work, family and caring commitments and how the Rejuva Sport bars fit into my new fitness and fat burning regime.

Pop over to Buildmumahouse Instagram and Twitter @Buildmumahouse1 and follow me!

 

Mobility issues and LIDL- #LIDLSURPRISES

September 19, 2016
wheelchair-checkout-and-trolley-lidl-suprises-buildmumahouse jola piesakowska

Is Lidl the only UK supermarket that has useful stuff for the elderly, disabled and anyone with reduced mobility? Are they tackling mobility issues head on?

Today, Sunday 18th September 2016, I would definitely say YES!

lidl-suprises-wheelchair-and-trolley-at-checkout-buildmumahouse

We’re all queuing up at Lidl checkout, today.

Doing my Sunday shop today, I came across a whole range of mobility aids that are really well priced and really useful. It is fantastic to find these products on the High Street and also to find a supermarket that addresses the needs of its customers. From items that help to open a jam jar, to low mobility exercise kit, these are basic items that are hard to track down and being sold at very pocket friendly price.

 

lidl-buildmumahouse-shower-stool

lidl-shower-stool-buildmumahouse

Right in the middle of the shop – no hiding of ‘disabled items’ in a corner, Lidl’s shower stool is proudly displayed.

This Shower Stool is not great for my mum’s needs – she really does need arm rests and back support, but for a basic Shower Stool, this is definitely Lidl addressing mobility issues – yes its true, #lidlsurprises. The shower seat height is adjustable, it has non-slip feet and would allow anyone who needs a bit of support the chance to enjoy their shower, and even give their feet a good scrub without fear of falling or slipping. When I was recovering from a broken leg, this stool would have been ideal.

Arm and Leg Trainer

The next item that caught my eye was the Lidl Arm and Leg trainer. This is such a good exercise item. From a seated position you can exercise your legs or arms and help yourself keep moving.

  • 2-in-1 effective training device for targeted strengthening of arm and leg muscles
  • Can be used whilst seated
  • Built-in computer with 7 functions and large,
  • easy-to-read LCD display – shows workout duration, speed, distance and calories burnt
  • Adjustable resistance for a range of strength levels
  • Size approx. (cm): W42 x H31 x D38
  • Max. 100kg

arm-and-leg-trainer-lidl-buildmumahouse

Kitchen Aids

My favourite items are the kitchen aids. A bargain at £2.49 and so useful.

lidl-surprise-pricing

#lidlsurprises: My Top Three Lidl Kitchen Aids

Grip Impaired Power Bottle Opener

lidl-bottle-opener-buildmumahouse-lidlsurprise

Didn’t know such a thing existed but this exactly what I need to open screw top bottles of fizzy water. The Power Bottle Opener is ideal if you have a  weakened grip, the extra turning power you get from this gadget makes a huge difference. Also a must for carers.

Grip Impaired Lid Opener

lidl-lid-opener-buildmumahouse lidlsurprises

Did you know a tool like this opens vacuum-sealed jars? For years I have followed the advice of a friend’s granny and I bash the edge of the jam jar lid on my worktop marble slab until I dent it so much the vacuum seal is broken. Well, no more! I now have the Lidl Lid Opener: #lidsurprises again!

The Nail Saver: Ring-Pull Can Opener

ring-can-opener-lidl-buildmumahouse-lidlssurprises

What can I say other than no more broken nails and no more bent tea spoon handles. Yes, I bought the Lidl Ring-Pull Can Opener. I also bought one for my mum so that she doesn’t do a Yuri Geller and bend all of her spoons either.

I Didn’t Buy These but I’m Sure Someone Will:

Lidl Key Turning Aid

key-turning-aid-lidl-buildmumahouse-lidlsurprises

I bought my mum one of these from an online supplier a couple of years ago. They are great for anyone with arthritis but my mum found them too cumbersome and refused to carry it in her handbag… so when I built her house, I bought a front door lock that has proved to be easy to unlock. But I’m sure someone will find that key turning aids are perfect for their needs.

jam-jar-opener-lidsurprises-buildmumahouse

If you are a regular Lidl shopper you will recognise what’s gone on here – the item has been taken out of the box and I couldn’t find any others still boxed up.

This is a jam jar opener, its a cumbersome, ugly thing but apparently it works.

#LidlSuprises?

I love the packaging design, well thought out, clear and also witty (see how 2 boxes next to each other can make up the image). Pricing is fantastic. Usefulness spot on. It’s great to see such a wide range of simple and effective mobility aids in a local supermarket and not just in a online disabled catalogue.

Massive thumbs up to Lidl, but I do wish these kitchen aids weren’t in blue and white.

Think outside the box! You’ve go the products right. Now give us some COLOUR, Lidl, we want our kitchens and homes to look lovely and personal.

The Buildmumahouse 10 step guide to your forever home.

August 16, 2016

I’ve found my forever home and I don’t intend to move. I love my home and I want to start making it the perfect nest for me. I don’t know what lies ahead for me health wise but I do want to grow old here. How can I make my home as ageproof and as beautiful as possible?

I’ve put together a top 10 step guide and suggestions based on my experiences as a carer and Buildmumahouse blogger – steps that anyone can make in order to future proof your forever home.

Step 1 – LED light bulbs

It’s an investment, they are expensive, but this takes minutes to implement and they have an immediate impact.

Over time you will find that as LED bulbs last a long time, 25,000 t0 50,000 hours, they will reduce the number of times in a year that you have to reach up, step on a ladder or chair and change the ceiling lights.

LEDs will reduce your lighting electricity bills, it’s estimated that this can be as much as a 90% saving.

Light up your life and make it easier to see. Support your eyesight by installing effective lighting and create the mood areas in your home that are favourite with interior designers. Install daylight / cool temperature lights in any food prep or craft areas and warm lights in cosy, relaxing areas. Light temperature can lift our mood – there are claims that daylight bulbs can be used to reduce the depressive symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The right LED can change your life

jola piesakowska buildmumahouse lighting led lights open plan living ageproof mood lighting

The living area lights are warmer and the kitchen lights are spots that are usually used in retail lighting- they are direction spotlights and the bulbs have a very wide but bright even light.

…And finally make sure areas such as steps and the stairs are well lit, read my blog post with more details here.

Step 2 – Install lever taps

Easy to use lever taps don’t have to make bathrooms and kitchens look like pre – op scrub room. There are so many fantastic, well designed lever taps on the market but do invest in taps with smooth, positive mechanisms.

When looking at lever taps for a sink or shower ask yourself: Do they look nice? Do they fit in with my styling? Can I can turn the water on using only the palm of a very soapy hand and with my eyes closed ? Will I have full control of the water flow and perhaps more importantly, temperature.

Jola Piesakowska bathroom taps lever CP Hart Arc taps

Classic styling lever taps, basin and matching shower controls

In the kitchen consider lever taps with a built in water filter, I did and now I don’t have to buy unwieldy bottles of filtered water in the supermarket every week.

Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse Brita water tap

Kitchen lever tap with built in lever taps for filtered water

Step 3 – Bathroom Wetroom

This is a biggie and it can have maximum impact on your life and maximum disruption when you are doing the building work.

Think shower, think sitting while showering, think grab rails, think wetroom. This is such a huge subject and a few blog posts in itself but here are the main points to ageproof a bathroom:

  • Get rid of any steps in the room, avoid trips.
  • Seriously consider installing a wet room, this will give you a bathroom with a level floor. For a really cool, modern take on it, think laterally about the shower design – read my review of Jee-O
  • Use non- slip flooring, have a look at the Forbo range, or seamed vinyl Altro safety flooring.

Altro flooring

  • Don’t need grab rails or a shower seat? Prepare the wall structures for that possibility by installing a 2x 2 wood frame in the appropriate areas of any stud walls.
  • If you don’t want to get rid of your bath right now but have the budget to remodel your bathroom, consider this trade tip: create a wetroom, get all the plumbing ready for a shower but install a bath in its place. It’s a ‘temporary’ arrangement and when you need to ditch the bath, the conversion will take days not weeks.

Step 4 – Bathroom Basin

Basin, lever taps and consider installing a basin with space to sit when you use it.

Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse bathroom sink ageproof bathroom

Spa style ageproof spa basin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a look at the practical HEWI range, but also think pampering and perhaps even spa – either way do make sure the basin is well secured to the wall, in case you need to steady yourself.

HEWI basin with integrated grab rails and lots of surface area surrounding it

HEWI high end design design and disability focused.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5 – Loo Pan

Look out for a toilet pan that is taller than average, to make lowering yourself easier. You don’t need to buy a ‘disabled’ loo pan just check the height of the ones that fit in with your design style.

If you have the space, select one that projects out from the wall as far as possible, this will make it easier to use with grab rails or transferring from a wheelchair.

Arthritic hands make it harder to use button flushes so do consider a cistern with a handle flush.

Step 6 – Door handles and locks

Review your door handles and door locks: a chunky door handle, well sprung, smooth in the hand and with good tonal variation from the door surface  is what you are looking for. This will help weakened or arthritic hands, and weakened eyesight.

Jola Piesakowska buildmumahouse door handle

Step 7 – Staircases

Improve the lighting on your stairs, think about low level lights that illuminate the steps or ceiling lights that illuminate the whole area.

Review the electrics – make sure that the lights can be switched on and off upstairs and downstairs and if you would like to make it mobility proof, consider adding a socket at the foot of the stairs.  So handy for the vacuum cleaning, but also makes the area ready to power a stairlift in the future. This is your forever home.

Buildmumahouse stairlist stannah stairlift jola piesakowska

Step 8 – Kitchen Cupboards

  • High visibility, easy to reach and it looks good that’s the mantra for kitchens – a base unit with deep drawers rather than a cupboard with doors improves acccess to cupboards. Look at how this can be applied to your choice of dishwashers and freezers.
  • Door handles – as with all doors, go for an easy to use, high contrast / visibility handle.
  • Waist height, side opening oven allows you to reach into the oven more easily and even better if there is a slide out shelf beneath it so you can pause and rest the hot and heavy casserole on it.
  • A high contrast worktop for good visibility, white is the best. I installed white sparkly in my mum’s house, looks great and does the job!
  • Lots of cold/white light shining down on the worktop, including under cupboard lights, everything illuminated.
jola piesakowska kitchen design

You can sit with your feet under the hob and you can option to make the height of this adjustable.

I reviewed Howden’s inclusive kitchens read through this… some of their ideas and features could work for you.

Step 9 – Electrics

Sourcing replacement light switches with wide rockers certainly is a budget installation and one that makes a difference for arthritic hands.

In this image you can see how I have clustered the wide rocker bedroom light switch with a central heating thermostat and the video door phone.

Control Centre!

Control Centre!

Step 10 – Easy Clean, Low Allergenic Flooring

Consider parquet, cork flooring, linoleum:

http://buildmumahouse.co.uk/2016/02/5-floorings-to-consider-for-people-living-with-allergies-or-asthma/

…with underfloor heating or rugs that have an anti- slip backing.

 

Wicanders cork flooring

c. Wicanders cork flooring

 

Step 10 a – Carers

Make a contingent for someone staying over, a spare bedroom or upgrade to a sofa bed.

Step 10 b – Let the Natural Light In

Read my blog post how double glass doors, use of mirrors, over sized windows and garden doors can lighten and brighten your home and increase its style.

 

All of these steps are covered individually in other posts on Buildmumahouse, have a look round for more detail. If you have any tips or hints on how you have adapted your home to make it ageproof and stylish WE ALL WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!

So please, share your comments below…

 

 

 

 

Seeing clearly now: 5 steps to a brighter, lighter home with Catherine Woram

July 31, 2016
jola piesakowska buildmumahouse hallway balham home

What on earth is going on ? I always had pin sharp vision. As a cheeky child I’d giggle as I was the first one to tell my mum what number bus was coming down from Gipsy Corner. Well, that’s not me any more. It all started when my arms weren’t long enough to read the menu in restaurants and then it progressed to squinting at train destination boards.

A rather blunt optician told me a few years ago: of course you need glasses you’re over 40.

Well, I’m over 50 and now I need to find my glasses when I’m hunting for things around the house …and it’s worse in twilight.

I’ve read that as we age, muscles that control our pupil size and reaction to light lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient lighting.

Because these changes continue, people in their 60s need three times more ambient light for comfortable reading than those in their 20s

Ok, so what can we do to make our homes brighter and lighter so that we make things easier for our eyesight. without compromising on style?

I spoke to Catherine Woram about this, it’s in one of her houses that I found the spa bathrooms that were perfect for any age. I love the way Catherine’s locations have a magical sparkling atmosphere, and seem to be about gently reflected light, ambient light and bouncing light.

I asked Catherine for tips on how we can bring light into our homes, beautifully – as we age our eye sight weakens ( and for some people its not age related) and bringing as much light into your home as possible brings clarity into your life while also lifting your spirits.

STEP 1: WHITE

My style has always been about white – for some reason I am obsessed with it and have painted things white for as long as I can remember!

jola piesakowska white bedroom hopton road

“Even when we lived in Australia for a year and furnished our flat from local junk shops I still painted everything white. My husband thought I had gone a step too far once when I saw the trees in Greece with white painted trunks and decided to do the same in our tiny London garden at the time!

I now run three location houses which take up a lot of time. Needless to say they are predominantly white and a mix of my favourite styles – decorative French and Moroccan styles. We have just found a house in Spain that we plan to transform with an awful lot of white paint plus Moroccan furniture in white/silver and gold”

STEP 2: ADD GREY

“White of course in its many shades as well as soft greys – but you have to be very careful with grey as it needs to have a slight warmth to it otherwise it can look like undercoat.

I love carvedjola piesakowska buildmumahouse grey white carved walls furniture of any kind – from pretty French pieces to heavier Moroccan designs – providing I paint them white!”

jola piesakowska buildmumahouse grey and white shades

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 3: OPEN UP TO NATURAL LIGHT

When you are in any of Catherine’s houses you realise that natural light is part of her vision.

“Light is always important and we have always thought carefully about light whether it is putting a roof light in the top landing in a small Victorian terraced house or a large kitchen extension.”

Many of the doors have glass panels, are double doors and very tall how does that open a house up to light? By the way, your double doors and wide doors are great for future proofing a home – entertaining friends and family, children running around, guests and maybe oneself with walking frames or wheelchairs.jola piesakowska buildmumahouse living room doors

“We have repeated the tall glazed French doors in three houses now – I had always wanted internal glazed doors similar to the ones you see in many old Parisian apartments.

We copied the design from a set of garden doors in a Victorian terrace and had a friend from the North East of England make them up in a taller design and opened up the walls to fit them. We repeated the design in the dressing room and bedrooms but used mirror rather than glass in these doors. They are, as you say, great for the home and also wheel-chair friendly as they can both be opened up.”

 

 

Skylight on the landing – HOW DID YOU DO THAT!!!! – it’s beautiful.

jola piesakowska buildmumahouse hopton loft light“The sky light was already there but featured an old Victorian window that we felt wasn’t very safe. I have kept the old window for another project and we replaced it with toughened glass below a large Velux window to light up the hall.

Our next project in the same vein is to open the ceiling at our Ross Road house and put a ready-made conservatory on the top and install a metal spiral staircase to provide access to the roof top as well as lots of light to the landing.”

 

 

 

STEP 4:  KITCHEN BRIGHT, CLEAN LINES

 The kitchen at Hopton Road is clean bright, white worktops but so classy and elegant – how do you get light of a modern kitchen and cross pollinate it with a classic look?

“We reused some of the old kitchen at Hopton and had new MDF door fronts made and mixed them with IKEA cabinets where we were missing cabinets. The long shelves avoid that cluttered look that many kitchens have with rows of wall cabinets. We used IKEA wall brackets for the shelves and painted everything in the same shade of white. The worktop is fake marble – real marble stains badly although more beautiful.”

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Catherine’s very modern kitchen in Balham opens up the house to unfiltered light

 

STEP 5: WHITE MATT SURFACES FOR A TRANQUIL,  CALM LIGHT

jola piesakowska buildmumahouse shower

“Glass shower enclosures with white tiles blend with the room while walls in a bathroom block light. I avoid any fitted pieces and tend to use freestanding baths/ antique tables set with basins and ornate silver taps sourced in Marrakesh. Where wall tiles are necessary (as I don’t like them) we use large matt white tiles so that they blend with the walls as much as possible.

Having said that I do love some of the new patterned tiles around and plan to use them…at some stage!”

 

If you would like to see more details of how Catherine has opened her houses up to the light, and to see more of the details that make her style so magical, follow me on Instagram @buildmumahouse or pop over to the Pinterest board on @buildmumahouse.

For more information and to read more about how we can all help ourselves and our families to lower the risks of vision loss follow this link to Bold Blind Beauty for some simple but effective guidelines.

 

Is Age a Dirty Word in the Bathroom? A coffee and chat with the man from HEWI.

April 19, 2016

In Waterloo, behind a busy building site, under the arches, is an Aladdin’s cave: CP Hart’s magical showroom. CP Hart is the purveyor of the most fantastic, cutting edge, elegant, high end, exclusive bathrooms. Each featured bathroom is styled and lit to exquisite perfection, you can’t help but take delight in the style, the quality and the design details. It’s the stuff of dreams, not just aspiration. CP Hart have dedicated their showrooms to allow you to delight in design… there’s even a luxurious meeting area for designers, clients and architects to meet and spin their multimillion pound dreams.

Then come the two dirty words:    AGE.     DISABLED.

Thoughts of blue and white plastic bring my luxury bathroom dreams back down to earth with a bump.

Until… I walked past the freestanding baths, glistening in the spotlights- one wrapped in copper, one in pony skin …and the myriad of heavily chromed bath taps. I’ve turned the corner and walked into a modern bathroom set up: restrained, clean lines, beautiful surfaces, quality chrome and clever design details. HEWI. Bathrooms fit for the disabled.

I’ve been intrigued by HEWI ever since I spotted them a couple of years ago at CP Hart. Who on earth is this bathroom manufacturer that no-one has heard of but features in all the best hotels and retirement homes in the world?

Last week at CP Hart’s showrooms, I met with Stephen Maley HEWI’s UK Sales Director  to find out  bit more about the thinking behind the brand. Stephen is a qualified occupational therapist who used to work with prosthetics and their design and he is typical of the HEWI ethos.

The HEWI Ethos

They are a family firm who really want to understand what people need and what they want. A German family firm established by Henry Wilke in 1900s and today employ 600 people worldwide. What started in 1969 as a company making architect designed and loved nylon coated steel core lever handles, in bright colours- green, blue, red has become a company offering accessibility bathrooms for the trade, hotels, care villages and retirement apartments. HEWI products are engineered to last, using high grade materials and finishes combined with thoughtful and considerd design developed with input from occupational therapists, users and designers.

Manufacturing

The colourful nylon door handles that were the height of fashion in the 1980s had a lot more to them than I realised. High quality materials and vibrant dyes meant that these funky items were often seen in public buildings and high traffic areas and standing up to the use.

door handles

What I didn’t realise is that these were clever designs – the door handles were easy to use for weakened grip, the smooth warm finish perfect for rheumatoid arthritis affected hands and when added to a white door had 30 point light reflective values. They could be seen in low light and environments such as in smoke filled rooms.

 

Design …‘my disabled dream bathroom’

He lost his leg but not his style, I found this You Tube video of Grenadier Guard Scott

‘its exactly what I need everything seems to be so much easier’

To design for disability you have to understand the physical  as well as the emotional needs.

In this video Ed Warner Motion Founder sums up the use of good design

if you get the environment right for people you can improve both their cognitive and their physical health

Education

Most of the customers are architects and specifiers. These are usually youthful, energetic, enthusiastic design professionals. Quite far away from a young person facing life with an amputated limb, a stroke victim facing disability, a grandparent with reducing mobility. HEWI take it upon themselves to take part in disability awareness training for retailers, RIBA CPD core learning programmes with groups of architects or specifiers. I was fascinated to hear that HEWI have an ageing suit. At their talks one of the group is invited to step into the world of increased body weight and limited mobility and weekend grip, macular degeneration glasses or even pebbles in your shoes so that you get the idea that standing even for a short time is excruciating for some people.

Future Proof

This bit’s easy: brick walls or marine ply affixed to 2 x 2 frame, just imagine, one day you may want to bolt everything to the wall. There is no point having a wet room when you can’t hold on to anything.

Disabled and Reduced Mobility

My favourite item is the washbasin.

sink

 

Sleek and fun… the flannel rack doubles up as a grab and hand rails – sneaky! Loads of flat space around the sink for all your bits and pieces and plenty of space underneath for your knees when you sit down or pull in to the sink in your wheelchair

The shower has so many clever features too a strong grab bar disguised as a shower rail. A tip up shower seat that hooks on a rail an dcomes as a small hard seat or a padded one suitable for anyone with inflamed joints or nerves.

The HEWI shower with and without the shower seat

The HEWI shower with and without the shower seat

The grab rails are shaped so that you can comfortably pull yourself forward as well as pushing up

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I Not only are the grab rails built with a steel core but the third one down looks like chrome but has a nylon layer so that its always warm to touch- a real boon for arthritis sufferers whose hands are sensitised to the cold.

Colour and Fun

There’s a rhyme that its used by therapists that blue is for loo and a theory that blue is the last colour in the spectrum that people can distinguish. Is that why so many nasty disabled bathroom accessories are white and blue? If its contrast that we’re looking for, HEWI explore black and you can see that in the photo above,  its used with pleasing forms and looks really stylish, modern and sleek.

Colour is also used for zoning in public spaces and this year HEWI have introduced 16 co – ordinating colours in the nylon coated range, about time that accessibility products can be modern and fun.

orange colour conceept

Dementia

Red is action. Sterling University DNRC. the HEWI dementia range uses colour therapy and colour triggers for people with dementia. Using red for action they circle the bowl of the wash basin.

dementia bathroom

The dementia bathroom range has been designed to remind people of why they are there- action.

There’s an interview with architect Dr.Birgit Dietz who worked with HEWI researching this range and the use of red.

On the one hand this facilitates the dementia sufferer’s perception of the washbasin within the room and on other the other hand it helps them to understand how to use it. This promotes functional independence in the bathroom. The markings are red. Qualitative studies show that the colour read is most easily perceived by dementia sufferers. Red is also the most easily registered colour for people with age-related impaired vision or inoperable eye diseases, for example, macular degeneration. The dementia washbasin is therefore also suitable for people whose vision decreases with age.

Add to this a choice of non-reflective surfaces. As you lose perspective, the reflection of your outstretched hand can be confusing and make it harder to grab a rail or reach for the handle to flush the loo.

HEWI sales advisors are trained to explain to specifiers to think about the end users. Mirrors – open the door to the bathroom basin and get spooked by your own reflection in  the mirror. Anyone who gets up to use the bathroom in the night can image the fright that you could get from that.

 

Cross Generation- now you see it now you don’t

Designed to be rock solid when in place but with the use of superbly engineered spring loaded clips the grab bars are designed to be removed when not needed. This is a feature that works brilliantly in retirement apartments where the architect designs a future proofing bathroom but would work really well in a domestic situation – if you have anyone elderly or disabled staying over regularly. Remove the grab rail and chrome plates cover the mechanism leaving everything looking sleek modern and rail free.

PUTTING THE HANDLE ON

 

 

 

Plan Ahead

Don’t buy in haste. If you rush into buying accessibility products for the bathroom it takes time to get it right and its worth making a bathroom that you can enjoy because it serves your needs and its the sanctuary you want it to be. Have a look at my wet room suggestions as well, click this link and don’t forget to think about colour schemes as suggested by my post with Marianne Shillingford here.