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5 tips to Upsize your Downsized home with Marianne Shillingford

July 13, 2016

Downsizing: you’re thinking of it, you’ve done it but how can you maximise your minimal space?

I spoke to Marianne Shillingford from Dulux about this – she has so much experience and love of colour and she explained to me that you can trick the eye and senses and make interiors feel more spacious and welcoming. I love colour but when it comes to decorating I’m so unadventurous- I keep reaching for the magnolia…everywhere! Marianne however, has some brilliant tips and insight to share with us, so here they are

                   5…4…3…2..1

Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Tip 1: Creating a guest room/ home office combo

Whilst it may seem difficult to catch the balance between creating a productive home office and cosy guest bedroom it is important to remember that both spaces should encourage serenity.


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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Going Electric: Ovens

April 22, 2016

… it turns out after 60 years that its good bye to a gas oven that warms your calves after you lean down to open the door and hello to an electric oven with an easy reach grill.

After much debate about how an oven will fit into her new downsized life, my mum reckons she can put up with an electric oven; she will only use one occasionally, but most importantly, when the family visit, she can roast a chicken. So that’s how we came to the conclusion that she needed a full size oven, a half oven was a downsize too far.

Once we had established that we were going electric I had to consider what would fit in with my mum’s physical needs. And that’s how I came up with 3 things that I need to find in an oven to change her mind about cooking electric

  • install the oven at worktop height
  • an oven door opening side ways allowing full access to the oven
  • controls that are clear and easy to turn for her limited dexterity

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Built Mum a House 1 year on: 6 great things that make me go mmm!

March 28, 2016

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.

Staircase wide enough for good under stairs storage as well as fitted shelves.

The staircase wide enough for good under-stairs storage, as well as fitted shelves.

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.

Cloakroom Storage

Cloakroom Storage

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.

4. Lighting

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

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

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

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.

Corner Shed / Garage

Corner Shed / Garage

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Control Centre!

Control Centre!

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!

 

 

 

 

Downsizing with Style – Book Review

March 20, 2016

Bettina Deda

I first ‘met’ Bettina Deda on Twitter. We share the same life experience of downsizing. The difference is I muddled through it ‘helping’ my mum and Bettina did hers in style. In fact she is the Downsizing with Style guru.

Bettina is a super organised Australian interior designer who has recently published her book Downsize with Style, available on Amazon and iBooks.

In Downsize with Style you will find a clear road map to downsizing without losing your sanity. There are 5 great tips that will get you focussed and to stay focussed, good organisational tips…much more of what you can find on her blog. In her book, Bettina tackles the emotional part of downsizing, the fear that hits you every time you think about doing it and then the wave of sadness which hits you out of the blue, every now and again. With Bettina’s help you can start to see this stage in your life as a positive experience:

Downsizing is often associated with negative feelings and emotions. I would like to encourage you to see it differently. Live with an attitude of gratitude, gratitude for the time you spent with your family and friends in your family home. Embrace the change while downsizing and be open to opportunities that come with it. Only when you step out of your comfort zone will you experience new things.

What makes this book worth the read is that when Bettina has tackled all of those real emotional issues, she uses her love of colour, art and design to help you start understanding your own personal style …and then she sets you on the path to start a new exciting chapter of your life.

You can buy the paperback at Amazon £17.54 or download the e-book to your Kindle for £11.99

or you can download it at iBooks £14.99

Read more about Bettina’s interior designs, downsizing projects and love of colour and Australian art, visit her blog at http://www.bdcolourdesign.net.au/blog/

 

 

 

Marianne Shillingford’s 5 Tips to Upsize Your Downsized Home

January 31, 2016

Downsizing: you’re thinking of it, you’ve done it but how can you maximise your minimal space?

I spoke to Marianne Shillingford from Dulux about this – she has so much experience and love of colour and she explained to me that you can trick the eye and senses and make interiors feel more spacious and welcoming. I love colour but when it comes to decorating I’m so unadventurous- I keep reaching for the magnolia…everywhere! Marianne however, has some brilliant tips and insight to share with us, so here they are

                   5…4…3…2..1

Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Tip 1: Creating a guest room/ home office combo

Whilst it may seem difficult to catch the balance between creating a productive home office and cosy guest bedroom it is important to remember that both spaces should encourage serenity.


web-UltWhite_07_0533_v2-RT

Continue Reading…