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How to make cooking easier and more enjoyable at any age – 5 design features that Howdens Inclusive kitchens deliver on

May 18, 2016

Howdens, the best kept secret in kitchens. If you’re not a builder with an account with them this is how it will stay. You won’t find out that this is a company with a fantastic attitude to delivering well thought out kitchen options across the full range of their designs and to suit your budget.

If your builder doesn’t have an account with them, you won’t find out that when they design a kitchen for you its well designed, delivered on time and if there are any problems they get sorted out straight away. You won’t know that when you, the client, go into Howdens they are really friendly and sort out your question quickly.

So… I’m unlocking the Big Secret for you – they make Inclusive kitchens. Really good ones. In all colours, finishes and prices. I couldn’t get my hands on these until I went to Naidex the UK’s largest disability, rehabilitation and homecare event … and these are the top 5 secrets that I’m sharing with you.

1. Accessible Wall Cupboards

This is my favourite secret, wall cupboards with shelves that come down to you. I took these pictures at Naidex, you can see that if you are in a wheelchair this makes your stuff easy to reach- but this is just as important for anyone who is elderly and can’t reach up to wall cupboards or in fact anyone who finds a step stool a bit precarious.

Standard pull-down shelf 2 wire base baskets with a smooth, adjustable operating piston mechanism. Compatible with 600mm wall cabinets.

Standard pull-down shelf 2 wire base baskets with a smooth, adjustable operating piston mechanism. Compatible with 600mm wall cabinets.

2. Adjustable base unit height.

There are two plinth heights with the Inclusive option, depending, on your needs you can have all of your kitchen lower or higher for easy access.

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

You can sit at the hob and cook with ease.

 

The really fantastic features in the base units, though, is the sink and hob. With both of these you can sit down either on a stool or in a wheelchair, put your knees under the unit and get stuck in with the cooking (or peeling the spuds over the sink). Both have an option to be raised or lowered with the flick of a switch- which is good if your family has a range of needs and ages.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Easy to use appliances.

Howdens supply their own appliances range called Lamona, as well as AEG, Neff and Bosch. It’s the easy to reach ovens that really understand what people need. The side opening Lamona oven is ideal for easy access for anyone in a wheelchair, support or elderly. Read my review of electric ovens for more information. Match this oven with the Inclusive tower unit and you can install it at a lower height than usual, and add a telescopic shelf beneath the oven. This shelf is so useful for that hot or heavy dish coming out of the oven – ideal for safe use. Just wish the oven came without a clock. How many carers get the call to go over to reset the oven clock?

And the cooking extractor with a remote control. Simply Brilliant.

4. Door Handles

The kitchens on display at Naidex had integrated door handles. This really isn’t much good for anyone elderly, with a weakend grip or restricted movement in their hands. A ‘D’ handle is ideal, a comfortable shaped door handle for opening drawers and cupboards. Howdens do a good range of handles and the good thing is that the Integrated features can be added to any kitchen in their ranges. But do shop around – I found some lovely well designed, easy to use, well priced ones in Ikea.

5. Good range of bright worktops.

Elderly people or anyone with a poor eyesight will benefit from the definition that a light and bright kitchen worktop will give. I was delighted to see that Howdens have a lot of choice across all the price points and again they seem to have lots in stock with short delivery lead times.

So.. that’s the five big Howden secrets that will help you plan a kitchen for yourself or for an elderly parent, or for someone who wants to remain independent and continue to enjoy cooking and entertaining. You will also find a good list of tips and hints on the Which? website but have a look at my Pinterest boards for more inspiration for a kitchen that addresses mobility issues and is on trend.

 

 

 

 

 

Is this the most luxurious sleep ever?

April 5, 2016

Getting a good night’s sleep is pretty high up on my list of ‘must haves’, having a luxurious night’s sleep is a dream.

The usual gripes are that the bed is too soft, too hard to lumpy but there are lots of other factors, your other half is too hot, too cold, gets up at night, needs a higher/lower bed than you, tosses and turns until the early hours…. Along with the downsizing and age proof living decisions comes the thorny subject of the new bed – couples with different needs considering ‘investing’ in single beds…

I’ve taken a look at beds that can be for singles or doubles that offer a luxurious night’s rest and solve a lot of the demands that all of us have at night time – or at other times; taking a nap or watching tv or reading a good book. Beds that can be raised with no effort to lift and support your legs, to lift your head and shoulders, to sit you up, beds that can be raised up so that getting out of bed is easier, bed frames that has a light that gently shines to help your way at night. All without disturbing your other half. Or as a single bed that genuinely suits you.

I’m talking well sprung mattress plus a mechanised bed frame, and it doesn’t get classier than Treca Interiors. I had a look at their beds and I was  delighted that so many physical (and emotional needs) were addressed and with a serious eye on high quality finish, smooth mechanisms, beautiful design and luxury finishes.

Treca Interiors Platinum Supercad bed base

 

50 years ago,Treca Interiors Paris developed their first articulated bed base called the CAD: Couché, Assis, Détendu : sleep, sit, relax. Now their range includes the Supercad with a travelling base that lifts your head and also slides back to close the gap between the headboard, and also the Trecaflex M5 that has suspension slats and pocket springs for added comfort and support beneath the mattress.

The Supercad is the top of the Treca Interiors range, it has four silent motors that smoothly move five independent sleeping surfaces. Everything is made for comfort and reliability: a “travelling” system slides the the frame and enables you to remain near to the headboard when your head and upper body are raised in the reclining position.

All of this is controlled by a radio remote control rather than a control attached to the bed.  Using the control you can adjust the bed frame so that you can find your ideal position and if you get muddled up with all that, don’t worry your favourite three can be memorised in the control. I love that you could also programme it to control other electrical appliances such as your tv and even your bedroom lights – fewer remote controls on your bedside table to rummage through.

Motorised Bed Lift

Motorised Bed Lift

The Supercad has three useful extras that are also remote controlled. Firstly, there is a heating pad that can be placed on the mattress at your legs. As with everything that they do Treca produce these using high tech heating elements and finish it in luxurious fabrics.

Secondly, there are motorised bed legs that can be added to the adjustable bed frame and allow either mattress to be lifted and lowered using the remote control. This is a real help in the mornings to get out of bed, or lift the bed up to make getting into bed easier for you. I like this feature because it means that once you are in bed, your half can be lowered to match your other half’s.

And thirdly, there is the ingenious ‘why I didn’t I think of that’ feature: soft downlights on the edge of the bed that shine down to the floor, lighting up your path in the night as you walk past the bed – no need to put the bedroom lights on and you won’t disturb your partner’s night.

All of this plush upholstery and high quality engineering is topped off with a range of specialist mattresses designed to use with the Supercad bed and made from the finest materials, put together with traditional craftsmanship. Silk, Horsehair, Alpaca….

material beds

Put together by hand….

making the mattress

cross section

 

and just when you thought it couldn’t get any more luxurious, embroidered details and all finished with a customised topper…

TIP_OE_Handle_Paris-Istanbul

 

Treca Supercad combine high quality engineering and luxury hand crafted mattresses to provide supreme comfort. Their styling, attention to detail and flexibility make you realise that these beds are not only for the elderly or the infirm but are genuinely luxury age proof items for any age. Adjustable beds are ideal for resting, relaxing and sleeping well and for couples, genuinely accommodates both sets of needs. If you are planning to downsize, this could be your new bedroom splurge! Have a look at the video:

 

Weekend Away: R&R and Inspiration in Lewes

March 9, 2016

 

the dogs starting out SMALL

A few weeks ago my husband booked an on-the-spur-of-the-moment weekend away. To make it simple, he planned a dog friendly trip that would distract, relax, provide inspiration for my blog and give us some ‘us’ time. We packed up the car and escaped London for Lewes in East Sussex.

I have found that being a carer for someone is rewarding and satisfying, it can be done out of loyalty, friendship, love or because it’s the only way. With the feeling of satisfaction and joy there are times when everything becomes stressful, tiring, frustrating and all that multi-skilling leaves your nerves jangling. I’m not special: 1 in 8 adults (around 6.5 million people) are carers, almost half of those juggle care and work.

This post is about caring for the carer, how 2 days in Lewes mooching about with my husband and two dogs changed me from from being an at-the-end-of-my-tether, stressed out wreck and got me back on track.

I’m sharing with you the visual inspiration of Lewes, my delight at new ideas and possibilities, appreciating people’s attention to small design details, people’s generosity, all these things that took me out of myself.

We stayed at the Blue Door Barns ‘where rustic meets rustic chic’. I would add, where chic meets warmth, thoughtful details, clever design and a fantastic breakfast . We stayed in the Sailors’ House a tiny gem of a barn that never felt small. The walls, and ceiling were painted in shades of soft, soothing grey. The tall ceiling gave a sense of space. The floorboards and details were shades of gentle blue and aqua. And everywhere details that were novel and delightful. Inside our barn we were in a very special world.

The bathroom was full of clever space saving ideas: a sliding bathroom door and the bathroom sink unit, a room that felt comforting and inviting, exotic oriental patterns on the floor tiles and the black slate tiles in the shower were exactly what Marianne Shillingford had talked about in my previous blog post.

In the dark, our heart beat slows and we begin to properly melt into a pre-sleep state. Small dark spaces in our homes become sanctuaries in which we can truly unwind.  Something it’s worth sacrificing a bit of light for – especially if you have a full on stressful life.

room

The Sailors’ House, Blue Door Barns

Lewes is in East Sussex, apparently it has more beautiful, independent shops than anywhere else, it has a castle, lots of dog friendly cafes and pubs, a steep high street and wiggly side streets dropping away to the river.  It has its own brewery, Harvey’s, a lovely pint (apparently) and a beer called The Kiss.. after all this town was the home of Rodin’s Kiss sculpture . The town is made up of some very, very old houses and buildings, some build in flint, some timber framed and some painted sugar almond colours. This seems to be a town that is comfortable and enjoys its history and arts, there are loads of artists, craft shops, print shops, antique shops, music shops, book shops and interiors and every style of homeware… everywhere.

BLUE and WHITE

My first stop was at Baltica at the top of the High Street. This shop is full of the most amazing range of Boleslawiec Polish pottery.  This is spongeware with the most vibrant blue and fun decorations, they are easy to mix and match across the patterns because the colour is so consistent and what makes them practically bomb proof is that they are made to go in the dishwasher, oven, microwave, aga and even the freezer. Easy life. We had two shopping trips to Baltica, we bought cornflower rice bowls and star covered spoons for presents. This shop was our first experience of Lewes friendliness, we chatted with Will Rogers who owns and runs the shop, he tells a good story and knows so much about the Boleslawiec potteries. A must.

boleslawiec shop

Some of my favourite designs of Boleslawiec, in the Baltica shop, Lewes High Street

BRITISH STYLE

Everything in Freight HHG  is beautiful, everything is beautifully made and most of it made in the UK. I love the black, copper, linen textiles and warm wood. The design of their products as well as the styling of the shop is inspirational, their branding continues to their packaging, their labelling is handritten- check out their website.

freight shop

FREIGHT shop Lewes High Street

LEWES VINTAGE STYLE

On Saturday morning as we headed out for a day of beach walking and then shopping, Bryony from Blue Door Barns gave us some biscuits that she had baked that morning. Packed in a heart shaped tupperware with a stripy paper napkin this summed up the Lewes Vintage Style. Thoughtful, generous, honest and fun. I love the Lewes Vintage Style, you can shop it in the Lewes High Street: there’s  Tom Paine printing press, a working metal press producing cards and prints. A tourist information centre with local crafts in the window. Wickle, the tiniest ‘mini department store‘ a relaxed, welcoming, dog friendly homeware shop with beautiful cards, children’s toys and clothes, a cafe, restaurant.

And Closet & Botts with its bicycle, pots, baskets and bunches of flowers and lavender parked up right outside. There is something for anyone in here: printed ephemera, glassware, clothes, characterful books. Its a magpie’s nest of vintage treasures, old and new.

 

vintage shops

LEWES ANTIQUES STYLE

There are so many antique shops, antique book shops and flea markets in Lewes that you can rummage in, we looked at the arcades and shops in Cliffe High Street and in the High Street as it was easy with the dogs. The Famous Lewes Flea Market in Market Street is in a converted Methodist Chapel. There is even an Auction House in town. Just look at some of these pictures and see for yourself!

antique shops Lewes

BEACH STYLE

Lewes is surrounded by the South Downs but it was the nearby beaches that we headed for on Saturday and then Sunday morning. This is the most wonderfully calming landscape. Wrapped up warm, the sea wind blowing out the cobwebs, dogs scampering across the pebbles, beach huts, cups of tea and coffee. This is the colour palette that underpins so much of the Lewes style and that’s what makes it calming and soothing.

beach colours

I returned to London, my head buzzing with new ideas, refreshed and optimistic.

If you are a carer there are a couple of good websites with a lot of supportive information such as Carers UK  www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/alone/how-we-can-end-carer-isolation

or Age UK  www.ageuk.org.uk.

You can see more pictures and get inspiration from my trip to Lewes on Pinterest Build Mumahouse or go to my Instagram Buildmumahouse.