If you’re looking for some tried and tested tips and about to embark on building your ‘forever’ home… or if you’re an empty nester renovating a house or apartment to make it future proof …or looking to build your mum a house read on…
It’s 1 year since my mum moved into her house, and looking back on the last 12 months here’s my top 6 features that she loves about it. It’s funny, some of the things that I spent hours worrying over have worked a treat, but no-one notices them, and there are some features that have worked out to be brilliant and we keep chatting about them.
First, let me get off my chest the one thing that drives me nuts ( luckily no-one else minds about it) It’s the kitchen layout. Downstairs is open plan living and kitchen area. When the kitchen was designed I spent ages on the paper plans, in the shell of the half built house measuring up and at B&Q tweaking the layout. I tried to make sure that there was enough space for everything..until the kitchen fitter arrived. Stubborn and knowing better than me, he kept moving the 1000mm corner unit from where it was on the plan. On day 1 of the job I told him a couple of times to move it to its planned position, and again in the morning of day 2, after I had left he moved it back to where he wanted it to go. He finished the job so that the run of units projected 600mm into the living area. That’s a fair bit in a tiny house.
This was a part of the build when we were having major problems with the construction company and the build was way-over schedule. I should have stood over him ( there’s a lot of should have here ) and if I were to give anyone any advice its this: When they’re fitting in the kitchen units make sure you watch like a hawk until all the units are secured. And be bossy. No, be bloody minded to make sure you get the layout that has been designed.
The electrician was really cheesed off when he returned to do part two of the fit because the oven didn’t line up with the cabling but it was done and I had given in. grrr. Anyhow,
let’s go to the things that we all LOVE…
1. The Stairs
I never thought I would say I would be proud of the stairs but I am!. When the house was being designed I realigned the staircase on the architect’s plan 180 degrees so that access to upstairs is from the living room and not the front door. This has proved to be more convenient when you are in the living room most of the day but more importantly I had them redrawn so that they are wider than an average staircase. A wide staircase does give a rather grand feeling of space and does make you feel less wobbly when you walk up them. But if you don’t use the stairlift every day (which doesn’t need the extra space) there’s still loads of space on the stairs.
2. The Door Lock
I wrote a whole blog post about the from door lock, click here to read it. I stand by every word: the Banham latch and deadbolt are so easy to use and secure. Love them.
3. Cloakroom Storage
The cloakroom was another battleground during the build.
Just somehow this room had constant problems and ended up as the last room that was worked on. Finally, when the walls had been plastered and for the ‘nth’ time I had pointed out that we needed access to the cistern for maintenance; I collared a builder and he began to cut away at the plasterboard to allow a removable lid to the cistern. There are all sorts of structural things going on behind this wall and that’s how these funny shaped shelves was born… Top tip: if you have a cavity behind a wall in a bathroom, build some shelves in there.
In open plan living, establishing lighting zones really is important. For age proof living good lighting is paramount. I installed daylight bulbs in the two areas that need to be well illuminated – the kitchen and around the stairlift and switches. As a carer, my top tip here is to find long lasting bulbs, lets can last years, use a daylight temperature bulb in the kitchen area and in the living and relaxing area warmer light.
Looking back over this year we are all
delighted with the daylight bulbs because they have a second benefit: in a small house they give the feeling of brightness and do give you a feeling of cheerfulness. Supposedly, this light temperature helps with the symptoms of SAD and I think that if you are downsizing and worried about feeling gloomy this is a good trick to try. There’s a good explanation of what daylight bulbs are about and an explanation of long lasting bulb options at Lightbulbs Direct website
5.The Corner Shed and the Automatic door
Brilliant. Fits a mobility scooter, the mechanism for the sliding door, it even has enough space for a tumble dryer and garden stuff. But its a corner shed so it fits neatly in the corner of the patio garden leaving enough space for enjoying the patio.
6. Command Centre
This photo sums up 2 successes and one not so brilliant thing:
This is my mum’s command centre! Light switch positioned at a comfortable height and with wide rocker switches, easy to use and looking really good.
Central Heating thermostat: full temperature and timing control and manual with easy to use controls. Digital push button controls are the norm but if you have reduced mobility and arthritis in your hands, digital buttons and fiddly dials don’t work. I found this thermostat/timer that controls a Worcester Bosch boiler and despite the plumber’s protestations it was worth digging my heels in and getting this unit on special order. Older people need to keep warm, and they need to adjust the temperature easily.
The large device that you can see is connected to the front door bell; inside the door bell is a very small cctv camera and it’s linked to two video units, one upstairs and one downstairs. It doesn’t unlock the front door but it does allow you to talk to your visitor and tell them to wait. If you have reduced mobility or are elderly this allows you to take your time going down the stairs to answer the door If you are downstairs when someone rings the bell it allows you to check who is calling. This particular model is a bit disappointing as the quality isn’t as good as it should be – the screen on one downstairs has played up and this one has crackly audio reception, but it gives everyone tremendous peace of mind.
If you have any tried and tested tips to share, I would love to hear from you, leave your comments below.Thanks!